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Stammering advice

Stammering can also be called stuttering or dysfluency. Stammering is an involuntary repetition, prolongation or block which interrupts the normal flow of speech. Many children between the ages of two and five go through a period of non-fluency. They are coping with lots of life changes and learning experiences and do not yet have all the language skills they need.

When a child stammers they may;

  • Try to arrange five minutes each day at a regular time when you can give your child your attention (switching off the TV, phones and iPads). This quiet time can build confidence and can be around 5-10 minutes long.
  • Show that you are interested in what the child says; talk about things they are interested in.
  • Try to increase the times that you give your child your undivided attention and are really listening. Give positive eye contact and acknowledge what they are saying and not how it is being said.
  • Do not finish their sentences and try to reduce the number of times they are interrupted whilst talking; explain the importance of turn taking within a conversation.
  • Try and encourage all members of the family to take turns and listen to others. Children find it easier to talk when they don’t feel rushed and there are fewer interruptions.Slow down your own rate of speech (signing can help with this) and encourage them to slow their rate of speech; they may need support to plan their responses before speaking. Speak with your child in a calm, unhurried way, making sure you pause frequently. Try and wait for a few seconds after your child finishes before you begin to speak. This will be more effective than giving advice to your child such as “slow down”.
  • Reduce the number of questions you ask.
  • Always give plenty of time to answer one question at a time.
  • Try to resist asking questions one after the other as the children may feel under pressure to respond to these. It is more helpful to comment on what the child has said and wait for a response.
  • Try to avoid a chaotic or stressful environments (ensure they get enough sleep).
  • Stammering can increase when your child is tired, excited or anxious. Try and keep all routines consistent as they are likely to benefit from a relaxed atmosphere around them.
  • Praise your child for the things they do well. Praise them when they talk smoothly and also praise strengths across all aspects of their life such as; increasing independence and being caring. Celebration of success or competence in other areas can be encouraging, as well as directing the focus away from stammering.
  • Treat the child who stammers in exactly the same way as a child who does not stammer– discipline should be appropriate and consistent Apply any rules in the house consistently for each child whether they stammer or not.
  • Children who stammer often stammer more on long, difficult sentences. Be a good model and keep your sentences uncomplicated.
Two children and colourful clothing