Dear Jacqui, I am concerned about my child in preschool who is stammering. Please could you give me some advice about how to support her?

Please get in touch with a Speech and Language therapist for an assessment.  Here is some general advice for young children who have ‘easy’ repetitions of sounds or words without distress:

  1. Listen carefully to what your child is saying and not how she is saying it.
  2. Slow down your rate of talking.
  3. Reduce your number of questions and give the child time to answer.
  4. Allow time for your child to finish what she has to say.
  5. Make sure that everyone takes turns when talking in the family and allow everyone time to talk.
  6. Try to arrange some time when your child can have your undivided attention in a calm atmosphere i.e. for five to ten minutes.
  7. Praise your child for the things she does well as this helps to build her confidence.
  8. Keep easy eye contact while you are talking to the child, especially when she stammers.
  9. Try to stay calm and be relaxed; your child will sense your anxiety about her stammer. You may need support and reassurance from a Speech and Language therapist to do this.

Some young children who stammer need more time to process thoughts and language as these skills are developing. They will do better in a less stressed and more routine, structured environment both at home and at school.