When Words Get Sticky and Make Life a Little Tricky
Imagine talking to your child one day, his message clear as day. The next day, you notice that he is having a difficult time getting his words out. Suddenly, “I want some ice cream” becomes “I-I-I-I w-w-w-want some ice c-c-c-cream” You may think, “great…he is beginning to stutter”. Early childhood stuttering (the repetition of words, syllables, or phrases) typically begins between ages 2-5, tends to be common among boys, and can be attributed to many different factors.
Fortunately, many children naturally “outgrow” their stutter. If it seems like those sticky words aren’t going anywhere, a Speech-Language Pathologist can treat your child’s disfluencies using specific approaches and techniques in the therapy setting. Use of these techniques in the home setting is strongly encouraged, but oftentimes life gets tricky and we may forget to use learned strategies. The Stuttering Foundation offers these 7 tips to help you help your little one with their disfluencies when that happens:
1. Reduce the pace.
Speak with your child in an unhurried way, pausing frequently. Wait a few seconds after your child finishes before you begin to speak. Your own easy relaxed speech will be far more effective than any advice such as “slow down” or “try it again slowly. For some children, it is also helpful to introduce a more relaxed pace of life for a while.
2. Full listening.
Try to increase those times that you give your child your undivided attention and are really listening. This does not mean dropping everything every time she speaks.
3. Asking questions.
Asking questions is a normal part of life – but try to resist asking one after the other. Sometimes it is more helpful to comment on what your child has said and wait.
Help all members of the family take turns talking and listening. Children find it much easier to talk when there are fewer interruptions.
5. Building confidence.
Use descriptive praise to build confidence. An example would be “I like the way you picked up your toys. You’re so helpful,” instead of “that’s great.” Praise strengths unrelated to talking as well such as athletic skills, being organized, independent, or careful.
6. Special times.
Set aside a few minutes at a regular time each day when you can give your undivided attention to your child. This quiet calm time – no TV, iPad, or phones – can be a confidence builder for young children. As little as five minutes a day can make a difference.
7.Normal rules apply.
Discipline the child who stutters just as you do your other children and just as you would if he didn’t stutter.
(original post: http://www.stutteringhelp.org/7-tips-talking-your-child-0)
These seven tips can be done at your own pace and without the stress of adhering to strict methods or techniques. I like to especially recommend #6 to families who have extremely busy lifestyles. It does not have to be a scheduled 30-minute activity, “Aint nobody got time for that!”.
Everyday activities, such as bath time, can be considered ‘special times’. What is important is that your child can feel comfortable and confident about speaking out loud. Increasing confidence is a huge component in fluency therapy, and using these 7 tips is a good way to do that.