Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you are the parent of a child who stutters, the following tips may help:

  • Listen attentively to your child. Maintain natural eye contact when he or she speaks.
  • Wait for your child to say the word he or she is trying to say. Don't jump in to complete the sentence or thought.
  • Set aside time when you can talk to your child without distractions. Mealtimes can provide a good opportunity for conversation.
  • Speak slowly, in an unhurried way. If you speak in this way, your child will often do the same, which can help decrease stuttering.
  • Take turns talking. Encourage everyone in your family to be a good listener and to take turns talking.
  • Strive for calm. Do your best to create a relaxed, calm atmosphere at home in which your child feels comfortable speaking freely.
  • Don't focus on your child's stuttering. Try not to draw attention to the stuttering during daily interactions.
  • Offer praise rather than criticism. It's better to praise your child for speaking clearly than to draw attention to stuttering. If you do correct your child's speech, do so in a gentle, positive way.
  • Accept your child just as he or she is. Support and encouragement can make a big difference.

When it comes to stuttering, many parents are naturally inclined to direct, challenge or chastise their child. But in some cases these actions have the opposite effect because they can add to feelings of insecurity and self-consciousness and can lower self-esteem. Avoid the following:

  • Asking your child lots of questions
  • Interrupting your child when he or she is speaking
  • Reacting in a negative way to stuttering
  • Insisting your child repeat stuttered words or telling him or her to start over when stuttering
  • Asking your child to speak in front of a group of people
  • Telling your child to think before speaking
  • Exposing your child to situations that create a sense of urgency, pressure or a need to rush
  • Punishing your child for stuttering

Connecting with other people

It can also be helpful for children, parents and adults who stutter to connect with other people who stutter or who have children that stutter. Several organizations offer support groups. Along with providing encouragement, support group members may offer advice and coping tips you might not have considered. You can reach the Stuttering Foundation at 800-992-9392 and the National Stuttering Association at 800-WESTUTTER (800-937-8888), or on their websites.

Sep. 08, 2011