3 Tips for Reducing Communication Pressure in the Home for Preschool Stuttering

Have you ever wondered what you could do at home as a parent of a preschooler who stutters? Changing the way YOU talk to and around your child can make a huge difference on the communicative demands your child feels. Reducing this pressure has been shown to decrease the amount of stuttering in young children. This approach focuses on changing your behaviors instead of directly targeting the child’s behaviors or pointing out their disfluencies. There are three basic tips to changing your home environment:

  1. Modeling slow speech
  2. Reducing questions
  3. Increasing pause time

The first technique is to reduce your rate of speaking. Modeling slow speech for your child will indirectly show them to speak with a slower rate. Often, children will attempt to speak faster to keep up with the adult’s conversation. When children try to hurry, disfluencies are more likely to occur because their mouths cannot move as quickly or as coordinated as yours. When using this technique, I don’t recommend doing this in slow motion, do whatever feels naturally slower to you! This shows your child that they can take their time to get their thoughts out. 

Second, reducing the amount of questions you ask your child. As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I find this technique the hardest to achieve! I never knew how many questions I asked throughout my day until I had a preschool stuttering client. As a goal, you want to eliminate at least 50% of the questions you ask throughout the day. To work on this, comment on your child’s actions instead. For example, “I see you’re rolling the play dough, it’s fun to roll!” Instead of placing a demand like, “Tell me about your day at school.” You could instead say, “When I was younger, I loved science class.” Hopefully, your child will chime in with comments on their day at school. This reduces putting your child on the spot and the communicative demand that accompanies it.  

The final technique is to increase pause time between your sentences. After your child speaks, wait a couple of seconds to respond. Also, wait a few seconds before asking your child for clarification. This display of patience really reduces the pressure your child might feel to keep up with conversations. You can use these three techniques all day long! At first, select one of your child’s favorite activities to practice: reading a book, playing with play dough, etc. Soon, you’ll be using all three all the time! If you have additional questions regarding your child and stuttering, please contact us. We'd love to talk about this more with you!

Sara Lowczyk M.S. CCC-SLP