What to Avoid if Your Child Stutters

In this latest video series, we're discussing stuttering in early childhood. Today we're honing in on what to avoid. It's tough not to feel nervous if some part of your child's development seems like it's experiencing a hiccup, but we're here to help.

In the last video, we discussed signs to look for if you're concerned that your child might have a persistent stutter. In this video, we're discussing strategies that are useful to try, even if your child's stutter might be temporary. These strategies are most useful for children between the ages of 2 and a half and 5, which is a time where we don't necessarily want to directly point out the stutter, as that might escalate the issue. So what should we do instead?

The number one thing to avoid is telling them to slow down, start over, or take a deep breath. Children are going through so many changes, and in all honesty, they're probably just trying their best. Being told to control something that might feel out of their control could cause a lot of frustration.

When talking with your young child, we also might want to avoid the use of too many questions. It can feel like a lot of pressure to answer questions all the time: "What is that?" "What did you find?" "What did you do at school today?" Instead of asking all those questions, we might try rephrasing them into comments. So instead of asking, "What did you do at school today?," you could try, "You made a picture at school today! That sounds like fun."

Try to avoid showing distress or concern on your face if your child is going through a stutter. Instead, try to remain open and patient. If you can't give them your full attention during their communication, you can give them a rain check. "I can't wait to hear about your school day, and I'm ready to listen as soon as I'm done with the dishes!"

One other suggestion is to avoid giving off a feeling of time pressure. So if your child reaches out to communicate with you, try not to say, "Hurry hurry, because we need to get in the car!" Similarly, if your speech sounds rushed or hurried, your child might pick up on that and then get caught in a disfluency.

I know this sounds like only things that you have to avoid, so be sure to follow up with our next video, which will cover what you can do to help. I hope you found this video helpful. Be sure to subscribe to the Expressable channel for more speech-language therapy ideas and tips.

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