So, call me a crazy over-protective Mama, but I ended up breaking down and taking Parker to the pediatrician to discuss his developing speech. I’m not sure if it is my pregnancy, or what that is making me feel super emotional about his not-so-perfect speech that has seemed to, for some reason lately, gotten worse. Parker has had a bit of a stutter for a few months now, and apparently I was doing all the wrong things dealing with the issue. I think everyone’s natural instinct when their child is trying to communicate is to help them communicate or to teach them the proper way to say things like you would with other developing skills. However, when it comes to stuttering, this is exactly what you’re not supposed to do.
So, to make a long story short, we went to see the Dr. and she said that Parker is certainly within normal range for his speech development, and that there isn’t any need to worry whatsoever. I think with all that I have going on with my pregnancy, I just feared that maybe I had ignored an important sign of a developmental issue that he could possibly need help for. She said that at this age, a lot of times they get really excited and it just gets hard for him to articulate good speech. It’s really difficult because communicating is how we feel close to people, and it is how I feel close to Parker, too. I think I had taken it for granted until I started noticing that his stuttering was getting worse for some reason and I was overcome with guilt when I realized that I wasn’t responding to him appropriately. She sent me home with a few sheets of info on what I can do to help Parker, and things I shouldn’t do. I hope this helps others who may be reading this and in a similar situation.
- Encourage Conversation-Sit and talk with your child at least once a day. Keep the subject matter pleasant
- Help your child relax when stuttering occurs– Mild stuttering that’s not causing your child any discomfort should be ignored. When your child is having trouble speaking, however, say something reassuring such as “Don’t worry, I can understand you.” If your child asks you about is stuttering, reassure him that “Your speech will get easier and someday the stuttering will be gone”
- Don’t correct your child’s speech– Avoid expressing any disapproval, such as by saying, “Stop that stuttering” or “Think before you speak.” Remember that this is your child’s normal speech for his age and is not controllable. Do not try to improve your child’s grammar or pronunciation. Also avoid praise for good speech because it implies that your child’s previous speech wasn’t up to standard.
- Don’t interrupt your child’s speech– Give your child ample time to finish what he is saying. Don’t complete sentences for him. Don’t allow siblings to interrupt one another.
- Don’t ask your child to repeat himself or start over- If possible, guess at the message. Listen very closely when your child is speaking. Only if you don’t understand a comment that appears to be important should you ask your child to restate it.
- Don’t ask your child to practice a certain sound or word– This just makes the child more self-conscious about his speech.
- Don’t ask your child to slow down when he speaks-
Try to convey to your child that you have plenty of time and are not in a hurry. Model a slow relaxed rate of speech. A rushed type of speech is a temporary phase that can’t be changed by orders from the parent.
- Don’t label your child- Labels tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies. Don’t discuss your child’s speech problems in his presence.
- Ask other adults not to correct your child’s speech- Share these guidelines with babysitters, teachers, relatives, neighbors and visitors. Don’t allow siblings to tease or imitate your child’s stuttering.
- Help your child relax and feel accepted in general– Try to increase the hours of fun and play your child has each day. Try to slow down the pace of your family life. If there are any areas in which you have been applying strict discipline, back off.
So, after reading that, I know there are some areas that I failed in the beginning when the stuttering started and things I can continue to improve on as a parent. I’m confident with this new info, that I can help him overcome this, and we can get back to a comfortable relaxed communication that I love and miss. Here’s the two of us chatting a bit, and you can see where Parker’s speech is currently. I’m hoping to do a follow-up on this in a month or so to see where his speech is, after practicing the techniques above.