Communicating with an individual who stutters can be overwhelming. You may not be sure how to react when an individual stutters. You never want to create more stress or make the situation uncomfortable. Helping your child create a positive communication experience is essential. Not only for your child to become a stronger communicator, but also to help them feel at ease with their stutter. Here are five practices you can implement to help become a better communication partner with your child who stutters.
Listen closely when the child talks. Pay attention to what the child says rather than the way they speak. Don’t try to help a child finish a word or sentence if they seem to be stuck. Allow the child to finish what they are saying before you speak. This helps them not feel pressured and lets them have their own voice. Don’t tell a child to speak differently. Telling a child to speak differently creates a negative connotation with communication. Do not tell them to “Slow down” or “Think before you talk,” as it might make them nervous before they speak and can increase stuttering.
2. Create a Safe Space
Provide opportunities for the child to talk to you without distractions or competition. Creating a safe place for the child will help the child feel more relaxed and at ease. Helping a child feel more relaxed and at ease may help decrease the frequency of stutters. Be understanding with your child’s abilities, communicating can be stressful and certain situations might make stuttering worse.
3. Rephrase What the Child Says
Rephrasing what your child says verifies that you understand what their message. Rephrasing can also help you know if you are understanding their message correctly. This creates positive feedback and reassures the child that they are effectively communicating. Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat what they said. It shows your child that you are interested in what they are trying to say.
4. Keep Eye Contact
Keeping eye contact with your child physically shows that you are listening and care about what they are saying. Looking elsewhere when they stutter may show that you are not interested, embarrassed, or that you are overwhelmed by their stutter. Other nonverbal gestures like nodding your head and acting relaxed gives assurance to your child.
5. Always remain positive
Remaining positive about the child’s stutter can help them have a better attitude toward themselves and their communication. Having a positive outlook is essential for adolescents and young adults since many people feel embarrassed and ashamed of their stutter. Showing your child that you support and accept them can help keep their outlook on communication positive.