Tips of the Tongue – Advocacy Group Offers 10 Ways to Support a Child Who Stutters

When a school-age child stutters, he or she may experience challenges not typically faced by other children. Fortunately, there are many ways parents and others can help.
Working with leading stuttering specialists, the National Stuttering Assoc. (NSA) has prepared a top-10 list of steps to take to support your school-age child through this important time.
By following these recommendations, you will build a solid foundation for making good decisions about your child’s speech and language skills, and you will give your child the best opportunity for improving his or her fluency and communication.
Learn About Stuttering
Getting the facts about stuttering can help you understand what your child is going through. The NSA has partnered with leading specialists to provide the most up-to-date information about stuttering research and treatment. The more you know, the more you can help.
Listen to Your Child
Listen to the message your child is trying to communicate, not the stuttering. You can show your child that you are listening by not finishing sentences or filling in words, or giving simplistic advice such as “relax, slow down, and take a breath.” Encourage your child’s development of healthy communication skills by showing him that what he says is more important than how he says it. Reflect what you have heard back to him so he knows that he is understood.
Talk with Your Child About Stuttering
To the extent that she is comfortable, talk openly with your child about stuttering. Keeping communication open creates an atmosphere of trust and sharing between you and your child. Open communication helps your child know that she can talk to you about how she feels about stuttering, and this helps her know that she is not alone in dealing with her speech.
Communicate with Your Child
Make time each day for quality, relaxed talking time with your child. Many families today are faced with increased demands on their time and fewer opportunities for simple conversation. A hurried atmosphere creates additional stress that can make it harder for your child to communicate successfully.
Listen to Your Child
Fortunately, many treatments are available for children who stutter, though not all of these treatments are helpful for all children. Seek the advice of a speech-language pathologist who specializes in the treatment of children who stutter, and work closely with your therapist to ensure the best possible outcome for your child. If you need help locating a specialist, contact the NSA for help finding someone in your area.
Get Involved
Become a partner in your child’s journey by learning all you can about how he is coping with his stuttering, both in and out of therapy. Ask about what he is experiencing with his speech, and do your best to learn from those experiences. Remember, your child is the expert about his speech, and there is much he can teach you. Although he ultimately needs to deal with stuttering on his own, knowing that you are there for him will give him the support and encouragement he needs to overcome the many challenges he will face.
Be Heard
You can be your child’s best advocate. As you learn more about stuttering, you will gain the tools you need to foster your child’s long-term success. Often, you will find that you need to teach others in the child’s life about stuttering so they can more be understanding and supportive of his experiences. You can also teach your child to advocate for himself by helping him talk to teachers and others about speaking and stuttering, and about what he has learned through the NSA and in therapy.
Accept Your Child’s Stuttering
Stuttering is a very small part of who your child is and an even smaller part of who he will become. Stuttering does not have to limit your child’s life, and the key to overcoming stuttering is acceptance. You can help your child overcome the challenges he will face by showing him that your love and acceptance are unconditional, regardless of how fluently he speaks.
Give Yourself and Your Child a Break
Change is a process that takes time and effort. As your family learns to cope with and accept stuttering, remember to give yourself and your child permission to take small and varied steps on the path to success.
Get Connected
The NSA is dedicated to providing hope, empowerment, and support for you and your child. The organization can help you become part of a community of people who understand stuttering and how to help people who stutter. The greatest gift you can give yourself and your child is the knowledge that you are not alone in dealing with stuttering.