Communicating with your child who stammers can be made easier with the right tools. We've pulled together the best advice to help build your child's confidence with their speech.

The following top tips are useful for adults to use when speaking to children who stammer:

  • Listen to what your child is saying rather than how they say it
  • Do not draw attention to your child’s stammer
  • Avoid talking about their speech in front of them
  • Give your child plenty of time to speak, though avoid telling them to take their time or slow down as this can draw attention to their stammer
  • Try to avoid asking your child lots of questions, instead comment on what they are doing e.g. instead of saying “what is that?” you could say “oh you have the helicopter!”
  • Keep giving your child eye contact on the occasions when they stammer, even if they look away
  • Do not interrupt your child when they are stammering or attempt to finish their sentence. It is more useful to give them your full attention and wait until they finish what they want to say
  • Use a calm and slower speech rate when speaking to your child. Research shows that this gives children who stammer time to put their sentences together

Younger children (2-7 years)

  • It can help to set aside time to do a short activity that your child is interested in, where they have your full attention away from distractions. During this, you can use the strategies noted above.
  • Use the words that your child uses to describe their stammer, so if they say they get ‘stuck’ use this term 
  • If your child comments on their stammer you can talk about it in a supportive way by letting them know that everyone gets stuck on their talking sometimes or saying “that was a tricky word”
  • Let your child know that it is okay to get stuck or make mistakes in their talking
  • Try to reduce the demands on your child 

Older children 

  • Be open about your child’s stammering. This shows them that you are accepting, whether they stammer or not 
  • If you are open about stammering it also allows you to talk to your child about what it means to them and what they think helps
  • Talk to your child about how they feel about their stammer
  • Use positive language when talking about their stammer, so instead of referring to them having a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ stammer or the stammer being ‘better’ or ‘worse’, use terms like stammering more or stammering less
  • Use positive language to highlight other aspects of your child’s communication, e.g. “you are talking more confidently” or “you are listening well”
  • Be aware of the demands placed on your child and how this affects their speech
  • Encouraging open communication is helpful because it reduces the stigma and it creates an open attitude. Also, if your child is comfortable with their stammer, it could reduce negative reactions from the child and those around them
  • Factors that influence older children may be stages of growth, hormones and more complex social situations arising as they get older 

If you are looking for further information or advice please see the links in the Resources section of our website. Children who stammer can grow out of it, but going through it can be isolating and frustrating for your child. The above advice and supplied resources can help them feel understood, and help those around them to understand them better too! You can also contact your local Speech and Language Therapy Helpline.