Stuttering in children is quite common. Many children will grow out of their stuttering on their own, often by the time they start school. A few children, however, may have longer term difficulties with this speech impediment. Whether your child is experiencing a temporary episode or ongoing stuttering challenges, there are a few easy things you can do to help them improve their speech. In some cases, these simple steps may be all that’s required to solve the problem.
Reduce the stress around speaking
It’s important with many speech impediments to practice proper speech in a stress-free environment. Invite your child to discuss their favourite game, book, TV show or other interest, and don’t correct their speech. Relax, and encourage them to chat. Allow them time to direct the conversation, and let them do the talking. Model correct pronunciation yourself, but don’t correct their attempts at speaking without stuttering. Creating this laid-back atmosphere allows your child to practice and gain confidence in their speaking ability. Have this type of conversations with your child as often as you can. Rehearsing speech in an informal environment will make it easier for them in other situations.
Model correct speech
It’s important to model correct pronunciation, tone and sentence construction whenever you speak. Children learn so much by imitation, so give them a great example to follow. Don’t try to imitate them, or make fun of the stuttering child.
Encourage and praise
Make sure you praise your child when they are speaking without stutters. Encourage them to continue to speak well. This has a positive effect, rather than picking them up on their mispronunciation, or repeated words and sounds which can damage their self-confidence. Let your child complete their words and sentences themselves rather than completing their speech for them.
The Lidcombe Program
This program teaches the main caregiver to give their child the right feedback at the right time, to work towards overcoming stuttering in children. It’s a simple program that’s lots of fun, using games and real life situations to assist children with their speech. Box Hill Speech Pathology can help teach caregivers this program.
Seek professional help
As with any medical condition, we recommend that if you are concerned about stuttering in children, you should make an appointment with a suitably qualified practitioner.
Vince Borg, Vicky Andrews, Genevieve Tierney, Rochelle Vizelman, Rachel Saldanha, Jocelyn Leung and Ella Mechelan all have a special interest in speech development and language difficulty. Book your child an appointment with a speech therapist at Box Hill Speech Pathology Clinic on (03) 9899 5494 or direct your child speech therapy questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.