Blog by Sara MacIntyre, M.A., CCC-SLP
March 18, 2020
While you take over monitoring home-schooling responsibilities as parents, the question of ‘how do I continue my child’s speech therapy work’ inevitably may come to mind.
First, you’re likely balancing a lot right now—work from home responsibilities, keeping kids on track with their new virtual learning platforms (or creating your own ‘curriculum’), entertainment, meals… oh, and also trying to maintaining your sanity! Rather than adding anything too overwhelming to your plate, consider the overall goal of just spending quality time with your child as enough. In a time where we can be overscheduled serial multitaskers, just simply taking a bit of time each day to have a focused conversation or playing a game together can do more than you think!
Rather than, ‘did my child practice their strategies?’ consider using this time as a family to: open up lines of communication about stuttering and their experiences, support your child in their overall confidence growth, spend time learning more about stuttering together, and finally, be mindful and reduce the ‘fluency is better’ message. If you prefer a more focused idea, consider incorporating one or more of these ideas below:
1. Enjoy conversation: Spend time just chatting about whatever they’d like…enjoy the conversation, focus on the content, in a world where we can have so many distractions, try to have some undivided special time with your child who stutters (and if you have other children, they would appreciate and benefit from this too!) …and don’t make it seem like their fluency is all that matters. They may know this, but the more experiences they have where they enjoy talking with you and not feeling like they’re being monitored the better.
2. Learn more about all the amazing people who stutter out there: Watch videos together of people who stutter doing courageous things or discussing their experiences. This may open up the dialogue between you and your child about their experiences as well as inspiring them to realize they can stutter and be everything they want to be! A few of my favorites: Darren Sproles Video, Grace’s TedTalk, Friends website.
3. Read together: Read some of our books/children’s stories about stuttering (or really any books they enjoy) together. Books with characters that exhibit bravery, courage, triumph over adversity—all can impact a child who stutters and open up the conversation about their own experiences (and hopes and worries.) Access these free e-books here: https://www.stutteringhelp.org/free-e-books
• Teacher Who Made a Difference
• Trouble at Recess
• Sometimes I just Stutter
• …and more!
4. Ask them about what it’s like for them: Have your child teach you about what it’s like to stutter…they can teach you how they stutter, how they think, how they feel.
5. Play a Myth vs. Fact Game: Quiz each other on myth vs. facts about stuttering. Here are some examples to use here: https://www.stutteringhelp.org/five-myths-about-stuttering and here: https://www.stutteringhelp.org/stuttering-myths-beliefs-and-straight-talk-teens.
Here’s a nice animation overview of stuttering, What is Stuttering?
6. Grow their confidence: Work on growing your child’s confidence overall, not just related to their communication. Consider learning more about ‘Specific Praise.’ Rather than ‘good job,’ ‘nice work,’ ‘bravo!’ Think about labeling a specific quality with an action: you helped your sister put her toys away, you’re a very helpful big brother! For more information, the therapists at the Michael Palin Centre use this book with families and recommend reading the ‘Praise’ chapter “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk.”
7. Learn from other Parents: On a recent Virtual Learning session, we had the privilege of hearing from a panel of other parents of kids who stutter. They reflected on their journeys as parents: learning curves they endured, lessons their kids taught them, what happened when they stopped focusing so much on fluency, getting their children talking more—and how they went about this, and more! Access the video ($10), “Raising Children Who Stutter: Parents’ Perspective.” Another great option is our video, “Kids Who Stutter, Parents Speak.”
8. Learn from Adults who Stutter: This recent podcast episode, “Our Journeys: The Power of Support and Advice to Therapists” is full of helpful info for parents and therapists alike.
We hope these suggestions are helpful! Sending you warm wishes for health from all of us at the Stuttering Foundation.