Stuttering does not have to derail your child’s learning or social development. If you notice that your child is suffering from a stutter, there are ways that you can help.
What Is Stuttering?
Stuttering is a disorder that involves obstacles to the flow of speech. It can involve repetition of sounds, prolonged sounds or even periods of silence between words. Another word used to describe it is stammering.
There are many different causes for stuttering. The first is genetics. Those who have relatives who stutter are more likely to suffer from the impairment themselves. Secondly, research shows that people who stutter process speech differently in their brain from people who do not have a stammer.
Developmental delays of other kinds can influence stuttering. Problems with language may be secondary to other problems that the child is facing.
Many children stutter. It can be a part of the process of learning language for some children. Just because your child shows this attribute early on doesn’t mean that it will stay with them into adulthood. However, scientists believe that children who stutter after age three and persist for more than six months may not grow out of it.
But, there is still much that can be done. Early intervention can help to eliminate or reduce the prominence of a stutter in children.
Tips to Help Children Who Stutter
One of the ways stuttering children are negatively affected is in the area of self-confidence. They may see themselves as unattractive or unpopular because they do not speak like their friends. Methods to assist a child are geared towards showing them acceptance.
- Speech therapy – In school, therapy of this kind can teach children to speak slower to reduce the incidence of their stutter. Even if the stutter doesn’t disappear, knowing that they are actively doing something to improve their speech can build confidence.
- Speak slowly to your child – The pressure to answer quickly can bring on a stuttering episode. Show calmness in your speech to encourage your child to slow down and think first.
- Listen to them speak – If you ask multiple questions of your child, it can lead to anxiety and confusion when it comes to giving the answers. Ask an open-ended question and wait for their response. Try to minimize interruptions so they can process thoughts clearly.
- Set aside time with your child – When things are hectic and rushed, it is harder for stuttering children to communicate. Give them time to be themselves by setting aside some time to talk and listen to their issues. Don’t draw attention to their stutter by trying to hurry them up or asking them to speak slowly. Even good-natured advice like this can cause anxiety.