3 Easy Strategies for Helping Reduce Your Child's Stammer
Bismillah al Rahman al Rahim
When you start thinking about that moment of panic where your child seems to be struggling to say something – and starts to stammer, my single biggest piece of advice is:
Stay calm, smile and be patient! Tell yourself you can help them overcome this together!
I know so well the feeling in your stomach, your hope that it isn’t the start of a terrible and embarrassing stutter, how hard that will be for them…
All of these thoughts and more rush through your head: how can you help him if his stammer is bad when he starts school!? Where will you get help for him? What happens if he has this forever?!
Here are some practical tips to help you further:
1. Listen to your child!
I know how easy it is to be so busy, and answer with only one ear to what your child is chattering about, but -
STOP! LOOK at your Child! Listen to WHAT he is saying - not how he says it. Recognise that what he wants to tell you is important to him.
2. Make special time to play with them!
Make sure he gets ‘special’ time with you. It’s often hard to do that – maybe he’s the youngest and is happy with his siblings, and you are pretty busy being the magical Mother coordinator of the family – or you are working (as I was) and just have not factored in the necessary preciousness of time to sit and play / talk with your little one. Or loads of other family scenarios that make it hard to find time for this. But absolutely essential.
Play the games he likes with him, give him the chance to show you his favourite activities. Be led by him in what to play or teach them during this time – it is his own special time.
3. Do lots of language-rich activities with your little one: tell him stories, read books, learn new words, talk while doing things!
You can do this even in your everyday activities. It’s easy to assume he knows the words for the things around the house – but unless you name them and talk about what we use them for, your child will not know them! Many years ago, I got my wee son ‘helping’ me in the kitchen, and we talked about big wooden spoons, and stirring, pouring, boiling, little metal spoons, colanders and fish slices – it was a great opportunity for him to learn all of these important day-to-day words, that he would not normally hear being said.
If you have another language you use at home, or another language that is your first language, play and talk in that language too. In my experience, boys have been more likely than girls to be slower and have more difficulty learning to talk. So the best help you can give them is to help them learn the words and sentences structures they needs, both in your own language and in English.
While you are busy doing that – he will be happy relaxing and learning and talking just fine. And suddenly you will realise he isn’t stammering any more!
There are only a few children for whom this might be the start of other problems, or a real stammer. If your child continues to have difficulties with talking after a couple of months of you helping them as I have suggested, then I recommend you seek professional help from a Speech and Language Therapist.
Stay tuned for more articles, and let me know if any of these tips worked for you!
(MRCSLT & HCPC, UK Reg.)
Highly Specialist Speech & Language Therapist