5 things to do if your child starts stuttering

5 things to do if your child starts stuttering

Do this asap.

Disclaimer: children can have dysfluent moments (stutter/stammer) for a number of reasons. Sometimes dysfluency happens as part of development when children have bursts in their vocabulary and language acquisition, and sometimes the dysfluency continues for longer and becomes more concerning. I'll be releasing a course about how to identify this soon.

If your little one has been having consistent dysfluencies for 3 months or more that haven't subsided or have worsened - reach out to your GP or local Speech Therapy provider for support.

How you can support your child:
1. Be an active listener.
Try to prioritise showing your child that they have your full attention. Get down to their level whenever you can so that you're face to face. Nod and show interest as they speak.

2. Don't interrupt.
It's so tempting to try and 'fix' the communication breakdown by filling in the rest of the sentence for your child. Try not to. Don't ask them to slow down, breathe or think about what they want to say. This won't help. Just be an active listener, be patient and wait for their message.

3. Slow down
Slow down your own rate of speech ever so slightly. Take pauses and show your little one that you're not in a rush - they have all the time in the world to speak. Think about parts of your daily routine that feel rushed or under pressure and see what you can do to make them less-so.

4. Reduce questions
Questions are like a pop quiz and they put children on the spot. Try to turn your questions into comments, eg instead of saying "what's that?" Say "I can see your favourite animal!". In this way there's no pressure to speak.

5. Normalise it.
Dysfluency shouldn't be taboo - we all stumble over our words multiple times a day. If your child is struggling, flat out ignoring the struggle may add to their unease. "Talking is tricky - why isn't mum helping or talking about it?".

You're not going to make your child's stuttering worse by gently acknowledging it in a judgement free way. "Sometimes our words get a bit stuck when we have lots to say and they come out bumpy. Mine do too. It's ok - I'm listening".

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