Tips for Parents of School-Age Children
- You must be aware of your child’s worry and discomfort. Your child will try not to stutter. But the harder he tries, the worse the stuttering is apt to get.
- You probably make remarks about your child’s stuttering from time to time. It is understandable for you to want to help. Perhaps you don’t find it easy to listen to the stuttering and would like it to stop. When you say or do something to help your child, you should observe carefully. If your help results in his becoming more relaxed and calm, you will be doing the right thing. His talking will get easier, too.
- It is quite possible your child does not want to be helped when talking. Then it is no use trying to do so. He or she will only get more tense. (Maybe because he gets the message that he is not allowed to be imperfect?) The more the child tenses up, the harder it will be for the words to come through. Better than any stranger, parents know whether their child is tense or relaxed. That is why we ask for your help. Because you know your child best and can gauge his or her feelings, you give the most valuable support of all.
- It is important to state that parents’ behavior never is the cause of stuttering. Your child was born with a hereditary tendency to stutter. This means the area of speech is a weak point in his general make up. Stuttering manifests itself when demands (in whatever area of life) become too heavy. This stuttering is harmless in itself. But if your child thinks others do not like his stuttering, he will try to talk “better” and to hide or stop the stuttering. That makes the stuttering worse, and it is the reason he still suffers because of it.
- So remember you are not the cause of your child’s stuttering, but you are the nearest and best supporters on his road to talking more easily.Your child may feel angry as well as hurt and discouraged because of his speech problem. What he needs most are parents who allow him to be resentful or sad about it and who show they understand.
- Perhaps your child does not yet have the courage to discuss it with you. But he or she does need to feel your tacit permission to do so. From time to time you may offhandedly ask what he thinks or feels about his stuttering. Make sure the child feels free not to take up the subject if he is not ready to do so. You may be very worried about your child’s future. Share your worries with each other and also with a speech therapist.
- It is important for you as well as for your child not to go on worrying. So try to find competent help soon.
- Stuttering manifests itself in so many different shapes and sizes that I can give no more than this general advice. Possibly your child is seldom or never tense, and you may find little of what I have said applicable. But if you feel worried and anxious just the same, do not hesitate to seek the help you and your child are entitled to.
These tips are from Sometimes I Just Stutter by Eelco de Geus.
The Stuttering Foundation has many excellent books and DVDs for parents of young children who stutter. Also visit our online store and library pages to see if your local library has these materials.