Tips for Parents of Children who Stutter to Show Support and Encouragement

Are you a parent who is concerned about your child stuttering? Don’t fret, you are not alone! Stuttering is a speech disorder that affects the fluency of speech, and stuttering is commonly seen in children, as 5% deal with some form of a stutter. As a parent, understanding how to support and encourage your child through this challenge can have a significant impact on their confidence and overall progress.

Effective communication and creating the right environment for your family are key components in helping to overcome the obstacles associated with stuttering. In recent years, virtual speech therapy has emerged as a promising avenue for helping speech development in children who stutter. Let’s delve into practical tips on how to talk to an individual who stutters and explore the benefits of virtual speech therapy in supporting your child’s journey!

Who Suffers from Stuttering the Most?

More than 80 million people worldwide stutter, but who is most likely to develop this communication challenge? Stuttering is more common in men than women as the male to female ratio is about 4 to 1. However, there is good news if you are a concerned parent — 80% of young children who stutter can completely eliminate the stutter with some form of intervention. Speech therapy is the best form of early intervention because working with a Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) can help individuals with stuttering towards improving their speech and communication skills.

Understanding Stuttering

Stuttering manifests as repetitions, prolongations or blocks of sounds, syllables, words or phrases during speech. A great example of stuttering is part-repeated words such as saying, “I n-n-n-need that”. Stuttering can have a profound impact on self-esteem and willingness to communicate openly inside and outside of a classroom setting. However, with the right approach and understanding, parents can help their child navigate through these challenges and build confidence in their ability to communicate effectively.

Understanding the mechanics of stuttering can be extremely helpful. It’s not just about the physical aspects, but also the psychological and emotional components. Stuttering can lead to frustration, anxiety and fear of speaking in any situation. As a parent, being aware of these emotional aspects is crucial in providing the right kind of support.

Tips for Effective Communication with Individuals Who Stutter

  • Maintain a Calm and Patient Demeanor

Your reaction and attitude towards your child’s stuttering matter greatly. Staying calm, patient and understanding during their speech difficulties can instill a sense of comfort and security in them. Avoid finishing their sentences or pointing out their stuttering, as this may increase their anxiety and make them reluctant to try and speak.

Children can sense frustration so it is critical to model patience and a willingness to listen to help them feel more at ease and more willing to communicate.

  • Listen Actively and Give Them Time to Speak

Being an attentive listener and displaying genuine interest in what your child is saying can go a long way in aiding them with their stutter. Allow them ample time to express themselves without rushing them, and encourage them to complete their thoughts, even if it takes a bit longer. Remember being patient is key!

Active listening involves not just hearing the words but understanding the emotions and intentions behind them. This kind of understanding is deeply comforting for anyone struggling with their speech.

  • Model Slow and Relaxed Speech

When you speak to your child, show them slow, clear and relaxed speech. This can help them imitate a smoother speech pattern. Avoid hurried or pressured speech, as it might add to their anxiety and increase instances of stuttering while taking away their willingness to communicate.

Encourage them to imitate your speech in a fun and playful manner. Making it a game can make it less about the struggle and more about the process.

  • Encourage Open Communication

Create a safe environment where your family feels safe to communicate openly about their feelings and experiences with stuttering. Let them know it’s okay to talk about it and reassure them that you’re there to support them in their journey.

Open communication also means educating them about stuttering in an age-appropriate manner. Helping them understand that so many other people go through this can reduce feelings of isolation and show them that they are not alone.

  • Avoid Correcting or Criticizing Their Speech

Refrain from correcting or criticizing your child’s speech as much as possible. Instead, provide positive reinforcement for their efforts to communicate effectively. Focus on the content of what they’re saying rather than how they’re saying it.

Positive reinforcement can include specific praise about their communication attempts. Celebrate their efforts and the progress they make as every step forward is a milestone.

  • Celebrate Achievements and Efforts

Praise your child for their communication efforts, whether big or small. Celebrate their progress and acknowledge their courage in facing the challenges associated with stuttering. It is not easy to overcome and feel comfortable speaking with a stutter so positive affirmations go a long way.

Creating something like a ‘stuttering diary’ can be a great way to track their achievements. This could include instances where they communicated effectively or faced their fears related to speaking such as giving a presentation at school or talking with a family member.

The Role of Virtual Speech Therapy

In addition to implementing these tips at home, there are more resources available to help your child. Virtual speech therapy can be a valuable tool in supporting your child’s journey to improved speech fluency and eliminating their stutter.

  • Convenience and Accessibility

Virtual speech therapy provides the convenience of accessing professional help from the comfort of your home. It eliminates the need to travel, making it easier for both you and your child to adhere to a consistent therapy schedule that does not interfere with school, work or any other ongoing appointments. For a child who stutters, familiar surroundings such as the comfort of their home can be a reassuring environment to practice and engage in therapy activities as it is viewed as a safe space.

The flexibility of online speech therapy is also great for parents looking for a convenient speech therapy service for their children. At Great Speech we offer sessions in the evenings and on the weekends reducing missed time at work and eliminating the stress of having to work around any other scheduling conflicts.

  • Specialized Expertise

Great Speech optimizes pairing patients with the most suitable speech therapist from a nationwide network of 200+ licensed professionals, allowing us to select an SLP from any part of the country — without geographical limitations and ensuring targeted therapy for individuals who stutter to receive specialized expertise for faster results.

  • Incorporation of Technology

Virtual speech therapy often incorporates interactive tools and applications that make the therapy engaging and enjoyable for your child. These technological aids can assist in speech exercises and help in tracking progress.

Technology can make therapy seem less intimidating and more like a game, making the learning process enjoyable for your child. Speech therapy can be scary and difficult for anyone, but by making it interactive and fun your child won’t be afraid to attend their sessions and will even look forward to them!

Great Speech’s virtual speech therapy program features a hybrid care plan model of synchronous live sessions with a therapist and asynchronous access to our unique practice portal: members can complete “homework” assignments that help extend the value of their live sessions and further accelerate their progress.

This individualized approach allows therapists to adjust strategies and techniques based on your child’s responses, ensuring a more efficient and beneficial speech therapy experience.

  • Consistent Progress Monitoring

Through virtual speech therapy, therapists can closely monitor your child’s progress and adjust the therapy plan as needed. This ensures that the therapy remains effective and aligned with individual speech therapy goals.

Regular progress checks provide insights into your child’s development and help in making informed decisions about the direction of the speech therapy program.

Supporting a child who stutters requires patience, understanding and effective communication strategies. As a parent or caregiver, your role in creating a supportive and encouraging environment cannot be overstated. Incorporating these tips into your interactions with your loved ones, along with leveraging the benefits of virtual speech therapy, can empower them to communicate with confidence and navigate their journey toward improved speech fluency. Remember, your love, understanding and unwavering support will be instrumental in helping your child thrive despite the challenges of stuttering. By fostering a nurturing environment and utilizing available resources, you can set your child on the path to successful communication and a bright future. Your dedication and efforts will make all the difference in your child’s speech development and overall well-being.

If you are a parent of a child struggling with a stutter, schedule an introductory call with Great Speech today and get them on the path to improved speech and communication!