Contact your local speech and language therapy service. Intervention at the pre-school age gives the best chance of recovery from stammering.
Parents should contact their local speech and language therapy service as soon as possible after they notice the stammering, even if the stammer appears to be quite mild and does not trouble the child in any way. It used to be thought that it was best to wait and see how the child’s speech developed before making this referral. We know now that a therapist should be consulted as soon as possible. Most services can be approached directly by parents without contacting a GP or health visitor. The BSA can provide the contact details of your local NHS service, or of the web site for private therapists should you choose to enquire there.
Remember the simple tips
Give him time to finish and do not interrupt or finish off words.
Do not comment on his speech unless you notice that he is struggling to speak, or reacting to his stammering by making a comment, or a gesture: 'Do not ignore his distress.' Give him support, as you would for any ordinary difficulty like a fall, and comment gently, 'Well done, that was a hard word for you.' A hug might also be a good idea.
Listen attentively and repeat back some part of what he said so that the child feels that what he said is more important than how he said it.
Maintain normal eye contact and do not show any impatience. For example, avoid frequently nodding; looking at a watch or surreptitiously getting on with another task while the child is speaking.
Slow your own speech with natural pauses, demonstrating that there is no need to rush.
Talk and play regularly with your child in a relaxed environment where you follow his lead as to what he wants to do.
Aim to build his self-esteem by emphasising what he does well and using his name or family nickname regularly when you talk with him so he knows that he is unique and special to you. He is more likely then to develop the confidence to manage his speaking even when stammering severely.
Try to make sure that the other children and adults he sees regularly also follow this simple advice.
Talk with him on a daily basis one to one for at least fifteen minutes in a relaxed and quiet atmosphere with nothing else happening to distract him such as the television, or loud background noise. You may find that he is most comfortable sitting down in a special place that he likes, with a favourite toy, with you sitting at the same level.
Help your child feel good about himself and his talking. Always listen attentively and keep normal eye contact and compliment him when he has explained something to you. 'Well, that was interesting.'
If you do feel very anxious about your child’s stammering then contact the BSA:Helpline so that you can talk about your fears with someone who understands.
If your child makes a mistake with a word when talking do not criticise him, just repeat the word, as it should be said in your comment back to him, so he hears the correct version. When it is his turn to speak, give him time to finish what he is saying without interrupting. Do not finish off words or sentences for him.
If he seems be tense and shows signs of distress as he struggles to speak just react calmly to the difficulty as you might with any other with a comment that acknowledges his efforts and yet does not appear to him to show you are worried about his speech. 'That was a bit hard for you, you did really well there', acknowledges and compliments him at the same time. With young children a hug might add to the reassurance.
Spending time with your child
Spend time together regularly - follow his lead by playing with what he wants to play with and talking about what he wants to talk about. This sense of being in charge helps to build his self-esteem and causes him to think a little about what he wants to play. During this time, encourage him by praising him for what he is good at (e.g.: 'You have a drawn a lovely picture' or 'That was a very helpful thing to do'.
Make things relaxed rather then rushed. If he has been at nursery, for example, you may want to immediately ask about his day. However, he will have been stimulated during that day by play and social contacts and may just need a comforting environment with you where no demands are made on him. You could just sit quietly nearby as he plays, responding when he talks to you. Let him choose the moment for talking about how he had got on, even if it is much later on.
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Text for this page: Simple tips to help your child
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