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Stammering advice for parents and carers of young children

Has your child just started stammering?

Or has your child been stammering for a while, but starting to struggle a little bit more?

There are lots of things that you can do to help your child carry on talking confidently and help them reduce the struggle of talking. The most important thing is that you remain calm and don’t make a big deal out of it. Reassure them that it is ok to get stuck sometimes. Your response to their stammer is going to have an impact on how they feel about their talking. Here are a few simple, but powerful, strategies that will help your child talk more easily.

Things that may make talking easier for your child

  • Model a calm, slower rate of talking in conversation at home.
  • Try to avoid putting your child ‘on the spot’ by asking direct questions or asking them to speak in front of others on demand.
  • Try to use more comments than questions when playing or talking with your child.
  • Simplify your language when talking with your child.
  • Model good turn taking within conversations and make sure others keep to the rules of turn-taking.
  • Re-cap or repeat back what your child has said so far if they get stuck. This can help them to continue more easily, for example, “I see, so you were at school in the playground…”
  • Start the sentence and allow your child to finish it. For example, when looking at a picture together, you could say “So this boy is….” and your child may say something like “…going on a skateboard in the park”
  • Make time for 1:1 ‘special time’ together as often as possible. 1:1 time provides an opportunity for your child to talk with very low demands.

Things that may help your child to feel better about their talking

  • Try not to stop your child ‘mid-flow’ or offer advice when they are stammering. Instead, show them you are listening and giving them time to finish.
  • Try to listen to what your child is saying rather than how they are saying it, and let them finish before stepping in.
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings rather than asking them to “calm down” or offering advice.
  • Talking openly about stammering (you may choose to use another term such as ‘bumpy words’) can help a child to feel supported and reassured, for example, “That was a tricky word, wasn’t it? You’re learning so many new words right now”.
  • Normalise ‘getting stuck’ with talking.
  • Model calm responses to making mistakes, showing them that we all do trip up sometimes.
  • Give your child specific praise for their communication skills, for example, the great stories they tell.
  • Try to use neutral language when talking about stammering with or around your child. Avoid using words such as good, bad, worse or better.

Additional resources and information

Two video presentations from South Tees Speech and Language Therapy Service.

Why do some children stammer?

Time: 8 minutes

Practical advice to support children who may be stammering

Time: 17 minutes

A set of videos for parents whose child has just started stammering: Stamma

Contact us

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service Stammering Team at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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