It can be a bit of a shock, when your child develops a stammer. But more than that, it can be difficult to understand how to help them or where to find information that can be useful to alleviating their distress. Some children naturally grow out of a stammer, but others carry on stammering, causing great worry to their parents.
Stammering is characterised by:
- the repetition of sounds or syllables – such as saying ‘mu-mu-mu-mummy’
- prolonging sounds – for example ‘mmmmmmummy’
- pausing or ‘blocking’ – when a word gets stuck or doesn’t come out at all.
- usually occurs at the beginning of speech, and people will often avoid certain words or speaking situations to try to hide it.
- varies in severity from person to person. A person might find that they have periods of stammering followed by times when they speak relatively fluently.
Here are some useful tips on how to help your child’s stammer.
A child that stammers can sometimes have a problem with confidence. They focus everything on their inability to speak properly and can feel like a failure when they stammer. Encourage her by remaining calm and attentive when she is trying to communicate and help him to stay positive even during difficult times.
2. Early Intervention
There is a large body of evidence to suggest that early intervention produces by far the best results for stammerers, long term. If you notice that your child has developed a stammer, do not delay. Find a reputable speech therapist to guide you through the rocky times. There are exercises and breathing techniques that you and your child can practice, that might help cure the stammer.
3. Talk Slowly
Speaking slowly to your child will allow him to understand what you are saying and make him feel calmer and less pressured when replying. It is a better approach than asking him to repeat himself all the time.
4. Follow the Leader
Talk to your child in the same style that he talk to you. If he pauses before asking or answering a question, do the same. This shows him that you are not in a hurry and that he can also pause and take his time, when speaking.
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5. Quality Time
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for a child that stammers, is to give her lots of quality time. Once she is assured of her parents love and attention, she will relax and feel less like her speech difficulties are the end of the world. Offer lots of praise for her other strengths, so that she realises that she is more than just a stammerer. This will give her the courage to tackle her stammer head-on and apply the time consuming techniques, that will help her on her journey towards fluent speech.