Parents of children who stammer

Tips for family & friends




Try to focus on what the child is saying rather than how they are saying it.  


Tips for family & friends

  • It can be uncomfortable listening to a person whose speech is disrupted by a stammer but try to show you are at ease and are ready to listen
  • Avoid guessing the word or finishing sentences - it is very tempting, but you may get it wrong or it may just make the person feel cross!
  • Use normal eye contact - this doesn't mean fixed staring! We all glance around when we are talking to each other but make sure you also look at the person while you are listening to them
  • Listen to what is being said, not how it is being said
  • Try to show that you are not in a hurry - a sense of urgency builds tension
  • If you are a fast speaker, this adds pressure and speeds up conversations - monitor your own rate of talking and "change gear" if you need to

When talking to a young child who stammers

  • If you think that a child may be stammering, it is really important to discuss this with the parents/carers
  • Don't tell the child to "slow down" or to " take a deep breath" - the former is too hard for a young child and the latter can become part of the problem
  • Having discussed it with the parents/carers, if the child is aware of the problem then it may be useful to mention it thoughtfully; for example: "That was a hard word to say - but well done, you tried your best"
  • You might try to talk more slowly. Rapid conversations increase the pressure on a child who stammers and this can make it more difficult for them to be fluent
  • Try to show that you are not in a huge hurry; you have time and will listen. If you don't, then say so... "I really want to hear what you have to say, but I have to make this phone call now - can we talk later?" Make sure you remember your promise!
  • Praise the child for the things that he is doing well - without focusing on their talking
  • Try not to ask lots of questions, one after another. One question is enough - and give the child time to reply
  • Children who stammer often stammer more on long, difficult sentences. Be a good model and keep your sentences uncomplicated
  • Listen to what is being said, not how it is being said