5. Parents: three practical steps how to help your stuttering kid.
As a parent of a child who stutters (stammers), you can help your child a lot! Actually, you're the one who can help the most!
No matter how much time your child is practicing with a speech pathologist, your child absorbs as a sponge the way you speak and interact (not the way the speech pathologist speaks and interacts).
Before the practical steps, let’s see what are the three possible parents' attitudes, approaches, and strategies toward stuttering.
- The first approach could be along the lines of, "Don’t stutter, slow down, watch your speaking!" From the outside, it can look like something positive and motivating ("Come on! Calm down! You can do it! I believe in you!"), but it's the most traumatizing approach for a kid which makes stuttering bigger and stronger.
- The second attitude is, "It’s OK to stutter, stutter on!" Even though it’s a beautiful approach, it sends a signal that there's nothing much we can do about stuttering. Which is not true. So, you could do something even more empowering.
- The third strategy is "It’s OK to stutter, it’s not a crime, you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re always doing your best, yet there are tools how we can feel that speaking can be relaxing and how it can be something we can truly enjoy." Which gets us to the 3 practical steps I want to share.
Three practical steps or exercises if you would, for parents of children who stutter.
1) Understand the speaking structure.
Secure speaking structure is not about slowing down. It's about feeling the alignment in your speaking.
2) Use exactly the same training speech you want your child to use.
All parents of children who stutter I've worked with had an insecure speaking structure to some extent. That’s OK for you, but that's not OK for your child!
3) Create an empowering emotional connection with your child.
By using the training speech, you show that you truly care, on the one hand, and you give your child a secure pattern to follow, on the other hand (without any nagging advice).
As an action item for you, go to the video below, play with the speaking structure, try to feel the training speech, and see how it can be relaxing.
Link to the video: Stuttering & Consonants - Speech Exercises For "Hard" Sounds
Link to the video: Asch conformity test