The way you speak to your child can have an impact on his or her speech and stuttering behavior. Children who stutter tend to stutter more in stressful speaking situations or when high speaking demands are placed on them. You can decrease the communication demands placed on your child by modifying the way that you speak to them. “Stuttering results when demands for fluency from the child’s social environment exceed the child’s cognitive, linguistic, motor, or emotional capacities for fluent speech.”- C. Woodruff Starkweather
Demands can be placed on a child by themselves, or by other listeners. Some examples of demands include:
- Competition for talking time (lack of turn taking)
- Time pressure
- Negative listener reactions
- Excitement/extreme emotion
Capacities are inherited tendencies, strengths/weaknesses, and perceptions which may influence the child’s ability to speak fluently.
Implement the following twelve strategies to create a fluency facilitating environment for your child:
- Speak slowly
- Use a soft voice
- Pause frequently in conversation
- Use simple vocabulary and grammar
- Avoid asking lots of questions, instead, use comments
- Try not to place too many requirements or expectations on your child, especially during challenging or stressful activities (e.g., potty training, or school work)
- Be patient, don’t interrupt your child or finish your child’s sentences for him/her, instead establish good turn taking rules
- Allow time to pass between speaking turns, don’t rush your child
- Maintain natural eye contact, even during a moment of stuttering
- Avoid criticizing your child’s speech or using language like “slow down!” or “You’re taking too fast!” Instead, try to focus on the message your child is attempting to deliver
- Talk openly about stuttering with your child and acknowledge that it can be difficult. You can use language like “sometimes speech is bumpy” or “that was a hard one.”
- Listening Time: Set aside 15 minutes of time each day that your child can speak to you without time pressure. Your role is to listen to your child.
Chatterboxes offers quality Speech-Language & Occupational Therapy in Boston, MA. We also offer flexible service options for your family. Call us today at 617-969-8255 or visit us at 121 Mt Vernon St, Boston, MA 02108.