Parents can change how a stammering child perceives his speech disorder. They can play an important role in how confident he feels while communicating with others.
Let’s discuss the top 11 ways you can help your child stammer less and grow as a confident individual.
1. Model Relaxed Speech
Practice relaxed speech when you are at home. Ask all other adults and teenagers in the family to do the same.
When you speak slowly, take frequent pauses, and wait for the other person to complete a sentence, remember that you are practically demonstrating how your child can communicate more easily with others despite some speech disfluencies.
Modeling relaxed speech at home is one of the best ways you can help a child overcome or manage his speech disorder.
After practicing this, he will stammer much less and even when he does get stuck, he will have the peace of mind that his family members are patiently waiting for him to finish what he has to say.
2. Don’t Ask Too Many Questions From A Stammering Child
A stammering child will talk more freely if he is speaking his mind instead of answering your questions.
So, adults at home or school should avoid asking too many questions from a stammering child.
When a stammering child is talking about something, it is wise to just comment on what he has said.
This way, he will know that you have heard what he said and he can continue the conversation if he wants to.
You can also say something that motivates him to continue the conversation.
3. Show that you’re listening to Him
Your body language and facial expressions should be such that a stammering child knows you are listening to what he is saying and not how he is saying it.
A child is likely to stammer more while talking to parents, teachers, and other adults in his life if he notices a listener paying too much attention to his speech disfluencies.
Calling attention to a stammering child’s speech disfluency is a bad idea. In the long term, it can lead to negative self-belief.
4. Help Lower the Intensity of Stammering With Exercises
Speech-language pathologists (SLP) often recommend various exercises for children who stammer.
From tactical breathing and loud vowel pronouncement to pausing and jaw techniques, such exercises can significantly reduce the intensity of stammering in children.
If your child is older than eight or nine years, you can also encourage him to use a mobile app for speech therapy.
5. Give a Stammering Child Your Undivided Attention
Give your child at least 15 minutes a day of your full attention in a calm atmosphere. This will give him the confidence that you truly enjoy his company.
You can set aside such a slot at a regular time every day.
During this time, let your child decide what he wants to do. You can let him direct you as he enjoys an activity. Let him decide on his own if he wants to talk or not.
During this time, practice relaxed speech with as many pauses as possible.
As your child grows older, this one-on-one time can be the occasion when he feels comfortable sharing his thoughts, feelings, and experiences with you.
Such a routine can go a long way in creating a feeling of mutual trust between a parent and a stammering child.
6. Take Turns While Talking & Listening During Family Conversations
The best way to get a stammering child to participate in family conversations is to take turns talking and listening.
Children (as well as adults) who stammer often find it easier to speak when
· There are little or no interruptions
· They have the full attention of a listener
7. Maintain a Calm Atmosphere
As far as possible, try to maintain a calm atmosphere at home. Yes, it can be difficult if there are other children in the family.
When there are fewer disturbances at home, a stammering child is likely to feel less stressed and willing to share his thoughts with others.
Try to maintain a fixed routine and structure at home. Avoid a hectic lifestyle.
8. Accept a Stammering Child as they are
Stammering is nobody’s fault.
Be clear in your thought and action when you convey that you accept your child the way he is.
Your unconditional love and support are among the greatest forces that will help him endure & overcome life’s hardships.
9. Help a Stammering Child Build Upon His Strengths
Each one of us has some unique interests and abilities.
A stammering child may be susceptible to develop inferiority complex because of how he is treated by fellow-students. Growing up, low self-esteem can keep him from realizing his true potential.
Therefore, it is important to help him build upon his strengths.
Can he sing? Does he like to write? Is he good at football?
Let him try out different hobbies, games, and activities. Keenly observe his interest in different activities to find out what he likes most.
Arts, music, sports, and even solving puzzles as a pastime can make a stammering child realize that he can be really good at something.
In the long run, mastery in one skill, academic subject, or activity can have a lasting impact on how a stammering child takes on problems he comes across in other areas.
10. Make Him Realize that Stammering Does Not Define Him
Let a stammering child know that a speech disorder does not define him.
A stammering child has a full range of personality traits and can be as successful as his fluent friends and classmates.
In many cases, people who stammer become excellent communicators. There is no dearth of famous people who have reached the pinnacle of their professions despite having struggled with stammering all their lives.
11. Stop Anyone Around Your Child From Mocking Him
Do not let anyone ridicule your child for his speech disfluencies. It can be an adult, a sibling, or someone else in your extended family.
Teasing can aggravate stammering in children.
Never label your child a ‘stammerer.’ Be sure to talk to his teachers if you suspect someone at school has been bullying him due to his speech disorder.