Now that we’ve discussed the signs that may indicate your child has a stuttering or fluency disorder, let's hone in on what to avoid. As a parent or caregiver, it’s tough not to be nervous if your child’s communication development seems to be experiencing a hiccup. But speech therapists are here to help.
Here we'll discuss useful strategies parents and caregivers can use if their child has a stutter, even if the stutter might be temporary. These strategies are most helpful for children between the ages of 2 ½ and 5, which is a time where we don’t necessarily want to directly point out the stutter, as this can escalate the issue.
Avoid Telling Your Child to “Slow Down”
The number one thing you should avoid is telling your child to “slow down,” “start over,” or “take a deep breath.” Children are going through so many changes during this period in their life, and in all honesty, they’re probably just trying their best. Being told to control something that might feel out of their control can cause a lot of frustration.
Avoid Asking Too Many Questions
When talking with your young child, we also want to try and avoid asking too many questions. It can feel like a lot of pressure to be answering questions all the time: “what is that?” “what did you find?” “what did you do at school today?” Instead of asking all these questions, try rephrasing them into comments. So as an alternative to asking, “what did you do at school today?” you can say, “you made a picture at school today, that sounds fun!”
Avoid Showing Signs of Distress
Try to avoid showing distress or concern on your face if your child is going through a stutter. Instead, try to remain open and patient. If you can’t give them your full attention during their communication, you can give them a raincheck: “I can’t wait to hear about your school day, and I’m ready to listen as soon as I’m done with the dishes."
Avoid Hurrying Your Child
One additional suggestion is to avoid giving off the feeling of time pressure. So if your child is trying to communicate with you, try not to say, “hurry because we need to get in the car.” Similarly, if your speech sounds rushed or hurried, your child might pick up on that and then get caught in disfluency themselves.
Learn More About the Causes and Treatment of Stuttering
For more information on stuttering, including its causes, how it's diagnosed, and what treatment may look like, check out the following resource guide and videos: