Stammering can start at a young age and not all children grow out of it. As a parent you feel helpless when you see your child stammering. It is not uncommon for a child between the ages of 2 and 5 to have a period of temporary stammering. This is a crucial time of speech and language development in children. The stammering may persist for a couple of weeks or months and most children outgrow this phase. However, there are times when stammering persists to adulthood. During this key stage of development, as a parent you should pay extra attention and care so that the stammering doesn’t persist. The following practices will help your children develop their fluency skills.
1. Respond to the problem, don’t react
Don’t react to your child’s speech problems instead respond to the issue within the same care and diligence that you would use in all other matters related to your child’s development such as holding a pen while writing or while teaching them how to ride a bike. Don’t sound as if you are criticizing or chiding your kid, as this will decrease their confidence levels further and will increase stammering. Show that you care and you are there to help your child. By boosting their confidence you will win half of the battle. Also, trivialize the problem in front of your child, don’t call it stammering instead call it using expressions such as bumpy speech or getting stuck, or ask them for their own words or descriptions. Maintain a natural eye contact while you are talking to them and show them that you are interested in what they are saying than how they are saying. Don’t finish their sentences instead allow them the time they need.
2. Slow down your own rate of speech.
Slow down your own rate of speech when you speak to your child. This will teach them how to reduce their own rate of speech. Tell your child not to rush while speaking, ask them to start all over again or asking them to take a deep breath while speaking will calm their nerves and help reduce stammering. Pausing for a second before you answer or asking a question can also help him to feel less rushed.
3. Encourage your child
Encourage your children if they get upset about their speech. Motivate them by telling them that they are doing well and that sometimes talking can be tricky when they are learning. When children see others of same age speaking with less difficulty then they feel discouraged, hence, it is very important to motivate them frequently, so that they don’t lose hope.
4. Monitor your child’s speaking patterns
Keep a constant watch on your children’s speaking patterns and check their progress. You are not responsible for your child’s stammering but you may pass on your anxiety to your child. If your child’s speaking patterns are getting worse then visit a speech therapist (speech-language pathologist). The therapist will be able to assess your child’s condition and create a program that will help improve his speech quality.
5. Dedicate time to improve your child’s problem
Make a daily routine to set aside some time when you can give your full attention to your children and help them speak in a calm and relaxed atmosphere. Your child needs your extra attention and help to overcome this problem. Have normal conversations such as what are the things your child did in the morning or what he would like to do when he grows up, etc. Don’t engage in difficult conversations as your child will feel pressurized.
6. Ask less questions
Give your child time to respond to your questions; don’t ask a flurry of questions as this will rush them. Also, asking a lot of questions will put them under pressure. Keep your sentences short and simple and instead of asking questions, simply comment on what your child has said, thereby letting him know you are listening.
7. Keep a simple and routine lifestyle
If your children are tired, sleep deprived or doesn’t follow a healthy diet, it might cause stammering in them. Children who stammer respond well to a routine and structured environment like at home and at nursery.