Talking – as nature has designed it – is the bedrock of communication, and by consequence, social interaction. Now, you know too well how stuttering affects a child, his mental health, and his cognitive development. As an individual, whether family or not, you are concerned about that particular kid that stutters. You are searching for How to help a stuttering child at home. To help the kid build their confidence level back up; you intend to make him feel all the emotions (particularly the happiness) that come with childhood. How then would you go about it?
Before any attempt at helping this particular child (or group of children), you have to understand what they have been dealing with and what they have had to cope with.
Understanding Stuttering; The Emotions That Come With It
As mentioned earlier, you need to understand some of the things a stuttering child passes through to give you a background on the manner of assistance they need.
Stuttering since the beginning of time is one of the highlights of what people consider a good joke. This culture of insensitivity has trickled down the slope of influence. Kids openly laugh at their stuttering friends (as much as their adult counterparts). This creates a massive loop in the self-esteem of the affected kid. They may have reason to believe that they are inherently made to be relegated. Samuel L. Jackson said in an interview that he was laughed at so much that he had to pretend to be other kids who don’t stutter. They get used to keeping silent even if they have valid opinions because people are just going to laugh at them anyway.
The consequence of Low self-esteem is living in the social shadows. Since these kids feel nobody wants to hear them talk, they relapse into incommunicado. They keep their opinions, emotions, and pains to themselves. They would most likely make little or no friends.
Regression in overall performance
Children who stutter – because of their inability and newly found unwillingness to communicate – may have difficulty scaling through tests (both literally and symbolically) because they don’t want to ask questions.
Helping a Child that stutters at home, the Basics
Having summarily discussed the possible effects of stuttering on a child, let’s proceed to see how to help a child that stutters at home.
1. Be patient and listen!
These kids – most of the time – don’t have people listen to what they have to say. The number one attempt to get them out of their shell would be to open your ears and follow them through with their speech irrespective of the time.
2. Initiate conversations with the child and show interest
You need all the shots you can take at showing this child that his opinions about things matter. As someone willing to help a child that stutters at home, you need to be open-minded. That way, you get them ready to speak and feel comfortable talking to you.
3. Be ready to adjust your pace
This is crucial if you wish to help a child that stutters at times. Sometimes, you must be able to calm them down, instruct them to take it slow, and adjust your own pace to fit into theirs. It may appear very slow and disconcerting at first, but it is the very first step to get them to speak normally.
4. Give (positive) feedback to show you can follow through
These children must feel they are communicating. As you speak to a child that stutters, you should give in between feedback with your facial expression. Smile, nod, and shake your head; try to limit interruption to the barest minimum.
5. Ask the child how you can help him or her
You will be surprised that the child has given thought to staying calm and speaking when making conversations. At times, you don’t need to force your solution. Keep calm; ask the child what they feel you can do together when you are at it. They would probably be able to give you insights as to their self-devised coping mechanism and how you can leverage it.
6. Reassure the child continuously
You need always to encourage the child to speak and remind them that stuttering is not limited to how great they can be. You show them examples of great people like Myles Monroe and Samuel L Jackson who came around it. Let your body language and your tonal approach reflect encouragement, not pity, not disdain, not anger, not impatience.
7. Engage the child in speaking exercises
Speaking exercises are part of the most effective way to help a child get over stuttering. Take on the role of their speech coach and engage them in a couple of DIY speech training. Do this consistently with the child in question and monitor the result.
Speaking Exercises To Help A Child That Stutters At Home
1. Slower speech practice
This doesn’t need to be made out as an elaborate practice. It could be in between conversations with them. Adopt a slower and more deliberate manner of speaking. This serves to calm them down and as a basis for them to follow after.
2. Use syllable-timed sentences
To achieve this, you need to consider the intensity of the stuttering you are dealing with. Simply speaking, it’s like breaking down your speech into short bits in a syllabic pattern – almost like a beat. It would be best to have patience and self-control to make this work, but the turn is superb.
3. Short and simple verbal responses
Make quick and straightforward (even single word) responses with your kids. That way, they can pass across many messages over with few words till they adjust to fluency. Practice these responses with them in practical situations, and they will adopt them faster.
4. Voice games may be one fun way
They are speech games that you can improvise with your kids to help them practice when they have fun. You must remember that whatever metric you base your game on should be adjusted to the flow of the child’s speech. You may even create short rhymes and rap music; it all depends on what appeals to the child in question.
5. Allow the kids to make their demands
in the course of living your everyday life, you should not assume what they need or complete speeches for them. You may deliberately set up the child in situations that would require them to make requests. You must be willing to listen till the end, even if you know what they have to say.
6. Family time, but you all get to listen to the child
This depends on what you do during your family time. In your family time, you should seek the child’s opinion in question; you should allow them to address the family on the things you intend to talk about. You should be careful, however, not to put too much pressure on this child.
7. Loudly pronouncing vowels
You can try pronouncing letters in the alphabet, particularly vowels and allow the child to repeat after you. This is to clear any doubt that they may have about clear utterances.
8. Breathing exercises
In the course of speaking to a stuttering child, practice breathing in between pauses and repeated syllables. This helps the child relax and re-constructs whatever thing they want to say.
9. Drinking through straw exercises
This exercise has been used to help the child’s tongue over the years. You could adopt this too; make them drink from a straw that is snipped at the end. According to your discretion from observing the child, you could do it within a time frame daily, or you could make it very random.
Home is supposed to be the comfort zone of everyone; it is supposed to be a place of solace, of refuge, a place where insecurities are not hidden. That is precisely why you have to work collectively with the child to help him or her overcome his stuttering. The ball is mainly in your court. Play it right and help strengthen another child’s future