Child stuttering and what to do about it

Guest post by Jesper D.

Child stuttering and treatment

Well now you have heard it enough from the mouths of others. Your child sometimes stutters. And that’s all right because it is natural. With patience and hard work you and your child will win the battle. It will be hard for you and your child but it also depends on your take on it.

In the ears of the child nothing is wrong. They don’t know it’s wrong. But parents and friends of parents will say “Oh, your child stutter. What are you going to do about it?” Sometimes waiting to let it pass is the best remedy. Other times you have to get professional help.

Other people make stuttering wrong, not your child. And other people can include you.

I highly recommend reading People expect you to stutter. It’s crucial that you as a parent are totally cool with your child stuttering.

I myself also have children that stuttered for a short period of time. What I did was never to say the word stuttering whenever they were near me. Because I was affraid that I would lable them as stutterers. I also seeked to look them in the eye and have them looking me in the eye. That way they would not invent any fantasies about what I was doing when they weren’t looking. That way I prevented secondary behavior. And some stutterers think that people make fun of them when they are not looking.

According to Lundberg, 80 % of children will grow out of their stuttering. But there are variations (Lundberg).

(Please see the scheme here)

The take away is that the longer the child stuttered the more likely it is that the child will continue stuttering during adulthood.

Where should you begin?

To begin with you can speak to your child the usual way though with many intervals. For this you need to be a little patient. Yes, patience matters. Because you have to practise it at many instances. While you should speak with many intervals you should also wait until the child finishes speaking. That might be a little frustrating if you are passing the first stages of the child’s stutter. Whenever you feel frustrated, just remember that you are going to start a treatment and everything will be fine. As you are patient listening to your child, you will gradually learn the art of slowing down in the speech. Just be relaxed and your will finally begin the journey towards the stutter treatment.

Frustration is castration

Whenever you get frustrated with your child’s speech it only worsen the condition. Remember eye contact and take time to hear what you child says. The child will feel your frustration and then it will be more difficult to overcome stuttering. The child will feel different and special in a bad way. The child will be sad to upset mom and dad and may stop talking for a period of time.

Allow your child to speak and allow yourself to listen

The first step of the treatment is letting your child speak. When you have a conversation with your child limit your output and let your child open up in speech in a freer way. You can choose to comment on what the child says rather than burdening them with questions. That’s an effective way to let your child know that they have an audience.

Your child should, and will, learn from your facial expressions. So remember your physical language is essential. Make use of your body language to convince the little one that you are attentive to the message more than the way they talk.

Eye contact, eye contact and eye contact.

But this will be practically close to impossible if you are a working parent. The child stuttering treatment is a must. So try leave aside a few minutes everyday for your child. Use that time to offer uninterrupted audience to your time. Your child should feel free during this time.

Let the child lead through the stuttering treatment

Let them take the lead. They will be the commander. They will decide whether you should speak or not. Only then will they feel free, and begin their self voyage towards treatment. Always remember, if you speak slow down and be relaxed. Your child should not feel stressed out. In other words, open the doors of your heart to them, and they will open themselves towards treatment. So be relaxed, and go ahead with breaks. The child will gradually feel comfortable sharing the feelings, experiences and other sentiments with you. If the child reaches that stage, it means you have achieved it by patience as a parent. Well done!

Listen, listen and listen to your child stuttering

And you must also encourage the other family members to take turns in talking and listening. Especially if the child who stutters has siblings who do not have that particular complication, he or she might feel cornered and the condition might get worse. The child who stutters should not feel cornered at all. Cornered, they will shut down themselves some more. Instead, encourage the stuttering child’s siblings to talk with pauses so that he or she can listen attentively and understands what is being spoken about. Everyone of the family should be equal, especially the child who stutters. That is quite important in the journey towards treatment. That is where your role fits in.

Equal attention and audience offer much confidence to the child who stutters. Only then will they come out of the shells. Let them feel discriminated, and the stuttering will only get worse.

Observation also counts. Take time observe your child’s interactions. Try to increase the time you share with them for talking. They should continuously feel that they have ample time to talk. You might naturally switch back to the fast pace of talking, but be mindful of the child’s condition often. Slow down all the time and let them feel that you have accepted who they are and that is nothing to worry at all. What matters most is that they should feel they are not isolated. They should instead feel that you are there for them to reach out. Stuttering or not, you will be their pillar of strength.

Child stuttering treatment- what to keep in mind?

Then there are basics you had better follow when communicating with the stuttering child. For instance, if you keep eye contact and give your child ample time to finish the talk you will gradually build up a good relationship with them. And minimise your conversation to a few words. The breaks should be increased with silence, not with words or sentences.

Over time, your child shall know whether you are attentive or not. Remember, you should picture yourself as listening to the contents of their talk not the way they talk.

Although you need to slow down, you should never use the words such as ‘slow down’, ‘relax’, ‘take a deep breath’ and so on. Yes, this is a treatment, but you child should be given it naturally not by force. Besides, these kinds of advice do not cure the stuttering. You should show the way by slowing down your own speech.

Then slowly you should approach a speech therapist for more advanced techniques in dealing with the child’s condition. The therapists apply several techniques. These are called speech tools that help manage the stuttering. Applying these techniques will take some time.

On the other hand, your child alone cannot use these tools. As an adult, you should be with them in applying the techniques. Then you will be able to monitor how their speech progresses in all kinds of situations such as classroom, therapy room and home.

And remember your child has got a health complication. Because they stutter, they should never be left alone. They should always be treated on equal grounds like others. For instance if they interrupt someone else in a conversation, you should treat them like you do to a child who does not stutter.

Sometimes, you may feel that it’s good that the child interrupts someone in conversation because then he or she gets to speak more. On the contrary, your child needs to learn ethics of good communication as well apart from getting rid of the stutter.

Action attention for child stuttering

From this post what is you take away?

Where to go from here?

To achieve normal conversations I suggest you begin reading:

What doesn’t kill you — stuttering treatment through history

Free up brain power to thrive without stuttering

Stutterers wake up stupid with less than 6 hours of sleep

What cause stuttering? There are 3 possibilities

References for child stuttering:

Anders Lundberg: “Stammen — en grundbog”, FSD forlag.