If you are a parent or loved one of a child who stutters, you may have experienced feeling unsure of what to say or do when your child experiences a disfluent moment. If you have experienced this, you are not alone! The Monster Study shows that how we respond to stuttering can’t cause a child to begin stuttering; however, our words can influence their communication attitudes. So, yes, what we say matters and that can result in feeling some pressure to respond appropriately - but luckily there is a simple way to approach stuttering moments.
Experts suggest that one of the best ways for parents to approach stuttering moments is to treat the event similar to the way they would treat a fall off of a bike. In essence this means responding in a manner that is uplifting, supportive, and encourages continuing to try. A response to a stuttering moment may sound something like this:
“Hey [Insert Kiddo’s Name Here], I really liked the way you stuttered and then you kept on speaking so I could hear what you had to say. I always want to hear what you have to say and it is so important that you keep using your voice like that. I am so proud of you.”
Whatever your exact response is, it should focus on strong communication skills as opposed to the disfluency itself. It should also happen in the moment so as to encourage and move beyond it.
For more information on stuttering, see our other blog posts or visit the Lang Stuttering Institute at University of Texas, Austin.
Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute. (n.d.). Stuttering FAQ. University of Texas at Austin,Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute, Moody College of Communication.