Happy Spring again. If I say it enough times I’m certain the snowbanks that persist outside my office window will go away. I am a member of the Neurosemantics of Stuttering Yahoo group and am always informed and inspired by these amazing adults. The following is a lovely piece written by a mother, Anna Margolina, in response to a father’s concerns. Anna is a native of Russia and is also a person who stutters. She holds a Ph.D. in Biology and is certified by the American Board of NLP Practitioners. You can learn more about Anna at www.changinglifenlp.com. I reprint the following with her permission.
I have three kids and all of them had some disfluences which were noticeable enough to make my mother alarmed. Two daughters grew up without stuttering. My son is 5 now, but I think he is not in any danger.
I am not qualified to give you a professional advice. But my personal beliefs are
1) Refrain from any comments on a child’s language. If a child mispronounces a word, simply start using this word more and speak it slower and more clear but without making it obvious. If a child speeds up and is difficult to understand – first pace the speed (speak in the same speed) then slowly slow your speech down a bit. If a child is disrespectful, says dirty words – don’t react emotionally but use different time to have a talk about bad words. etc. The goal is to avoid creating language anxiety and worries about speech.
2) Listen very carefully, pay attention, be genuine. Trying to get an adult attention is very stressful for sensitive children. If they worry you won’t listen, they may get nervous and whatever difficulties they have, may get aggravated.
3) Make it okay for you to have a child who stutters. Be certain that with your support and knowledge her experience with stuttering will be very different from yours. 80% of kids recover by the time they start school. Kids are very sensitive to body language and emotional energy. If you get nervous every time she blocks, she will sense it. If your heart breaks every time she blocks, she will sense it.
When my son had disfluences around age 3.5-4 I followed those steps and made it okay for me if he stutters. I knew that stuttering or not we will help him to grow happy and confident. Now his speech is not different from other kids his age. He stumbles when he is excited, but so do other kids as far as I can hear. So it is not an expert advice, but maybe you will find something for you in my experience.