Helping your child who suffers from stuttering

Helping your child who suffers from stuttering

Lina Molai, certified breathing, speech, and voice teacher, shares tips on how to help a child who has a stuttering problem to improve their speech. 

Mother and daughter talking
Mother and daughter talking/ iStock

October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day. It is aimed at raising awareness about stuttering or stammering - a condition that reportedly affects one per cent of the world's population. 

Children who suffer from this condition might be teased by their friends. The condition might also affect their self-esteem. So it is important for parents to offer as much support as possible. 

Lina Molai, a breathing, speech, and voice teacher, says parents need to understand that each child’s development is different.

"A child may have symptoms of stuttering that are part of his or her normal speech and language development," she says. 

However, "if the symptoms last for 3 to 6 months, he or she may have developmental stuttering," says the expert.

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Below she gives some of the symptoms of stuttering, which she says may vary throughout the day and in different situations. 

- Repeating sounds, syllables, or words, for example, repeating a sound as in W-W-W-What. 

- Prolonging sounds, for example, SSSSend.

- Using interjections such as “um” or “like,” for example, I am going - um um like.

- Talking slowly or with a lot of pauses. 

- Stopped or blocked speech. The mouth is open to speaking, but nothing is said.

- Being out of breath or nervous while talking. 

- Fast eye blinking or trembling or shaking lips when speaking. 

- Increased stuttering when tired, excited, or under stress. 

- Being afraid to talk. 

Molai says there are several things parents can do to try and help their kids with stuttering.

She gives the following tips: 

- Try to provide a relaxed environment.

- Set time aside to talk with your child.

- Encourage your child to talk to you about fun and easy topics.

- Sing with your child. Most children don't stutter while singing.

- Try not to react in a negative way. Instead, praise your child for correct speech.

- Don't interrupt your child while he or she is speaking.

- Speak slowly to your child. This may help him or her to also speak slowly as stuttering often comes while being under stress.

- Pay attention to your child when he or she speaks.

- Wait for your child to say words or sentences without saying them for him or her. Patience is key.

- Talk openly about the stuttering if the child brings up the subject.

- Stuttering can be short-lived as it is normally a developmental thing. If it lasts longer then six months, a healthcare provider should be informed. Share your family history of speech and language disorders (if known) with your healthcare provider.

- Speech therapy can help with techniques and to prevent stuttering in adulthood. There is no direct cure. 

She concludes that it is important to "educate your child's teachers and help them provide a school environment that is accepting and safe from bullying."

Image courtesy of iStock/ @Daisy-Daisy

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