Parent to Parent: Advice for a stuttering child | Parenting


By Jodie Lynn Parent to Parent

Q • For some reason, when our 7-year-old is at school, within the first hour, his teacher says he begins to stutter and just withdraws. However, we have never heard him do this. How should we approach the situation in a healthy and nonaggressive manner?

From a reader • When a child stutters in any situation, it is always good for the parents and the teacher to work together as a team. A great resource for both is the Stuttering Foundation’s free brochure, “8 Tips for Teachers,” which can be found at It offers ideas that are useful for everyone working with your child. These tips include:

1. Don’t tell the child “slow down” or “just relax.”

2. Don’t complete words for the child or talk for them.

3. Help all members of the class learn to take turns talking and listening. All children, especially those who stutter, find it much easier to talk when there are few interruptions and they have the listener’s attention.

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4. Expect the same quality and quantity of work from the student who stutters as the others who don’t.

5. Speak with the student in an unhurried way, pausing frequently.

6. Convey that you are listening to the content of the message, not how it’s said.

7. Have a one-on-one conversation with the student who stutters about needed accommodations in the classroom. Respect the student’s needs, but do not be enabling.

8. Don’t make stuttering something to be ashamed of; talk about it just like any other topic.

You may want to consult with a speech-language pathologist and discuss your observations with them. If you, the teacher and the speech pathologist agree that your child’s disfluencies are different from other children in the classroom, you may decide as a team to evaluate him for stuttering and possibly begin speech therapy. —Jane Fraser, President, Stuttering Foundation, in Memphis, Tennessee

From Jodie Lynn • There are a number of scenarios that could be taking place. Ask his teacher for as much information as possible and what the school offers to accommodate your son. There should be a speech-language pathologist available in your son’s school or within the school district who can help determine specific challenges. In many districts, they are available to come to the school and work with children, while others offer a pull-out program where they are transported to an off-campus location. Either way, get him tested as quickly as can be arranged and don’t be afraid to ask questions to help you understand what exactly is taking place.

Find out how you can work closely with the teacher, pathologist and your son to make the experience a positive one and don’t forget to ask about sessions and treatment even throughout some of the longer holidays and the summer.

We just had our first teacher/parent conference for our three children. Each teacher mentioned that their SEL (Social Emotional Learning) needs to be improved. Even though I asked, I’m still not exactly sure that I understand what they’re talking about. I feel stupid for not getting it, but what is the best way to include it at home and in everyday life and exactly what is it?

To share parenting tips or submit questions, write to: Parent to Parent, 2464 Taylor Road, Suite 131, Wildwood, MO 63040. Email: [email protected], or go to, which provides a secure and easy way to submit tips or questions. All tips must have city, state and first and last name or initials to be included in the column.

Jodie Lynn is an award-winning parenting columnist, author of five books and mother to three children. She and her family live in Wildwood.


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