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The relationship between you and your child is unique. In this section, effective
suggestions are provided to bring about a noticeable change in the relationship
between you and your child. Some of these recommendations are explicit and
clear, while others are presented in a general manner for you to adapt them
based on your circumstances and your child's. Keep in mind that how you
implement these suggestions matters as much as what you do. Creating a list
of do's and don'ts and following it won't be effective unless it is based on your
belief in what you are doing. Additionally, remember that sometimes not doing
anything can be the most important action you consider.
These suggestions have a direct connection to enhancing your child's ability to speak fluently and establishing comfortable communication with those around them. If you are concerned about your child's speech, the following suggestions are highly important and will also contribute to your child's social growth. Although parents are not the cause of their child's stuttering, as soon as stuttering begins, there are many points to consider and follow in order to prevent the issue from worsening.
The only thing you can control, change, and simultaneously constitute the most significant part of your child's environment is yourself. For many children, the special changes you introduce within yourself or other family members are the most important and effective way to enhance fluent speech.
It is necessary to specifically review the speech development between the ages of two to six. This period marks the peak of a child's growth and development. By the age of 2, a child may use continuous words and short sentences. By the age of 6, they use longer sentences along with different words. Around this age, a child learns how to control their tone of voice and words to interact with others and express their emotions. They extensively use speech in their social relationships.
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You might be surprised to hear that the way you listen to your child is the most
important and initial step you can take to help them. Of course, you listen to
them because it's impossible not to hear them when they have constant
questions or engage in chatter. However, it's true that you don't always pay
full attention to what they're saying. We can assist you in practicing selective
listening in a way that your child doesn't feel like you never listen to them or
that you're not interested in hearing what they have to say. Moreover, it's
necessary to gain more awareness about what matters for your child and their
growth. Paying attention to your listening habits and how you listen guides you
to establish a better connection with your child.
The following four key steps are useful for changing and improving your listening habit. Regularly practice each step multiple times a day for two to three weeks to achieve the desired results.
Observe How You Listen and Respond Throughout it.
For two to three days, pay attention to how and to what extent you listen to
your child. Notice the variations in your auditory behavior:
•What kind of topics grab your attention? Do you allow your child to finish speaking before you start talking?
•When your child is speaking, do you verbally or through your gestures rush them to finish? How much of their talk do you genuinely listen to? How often in a day do they have the opportunity to talk with you, and what topics would they like to discuss?
•How do you react when your child interrupts your speech?
•How much do you maintain direct eye contact when you're truly listening to them?
Observe your manner and approach of listening, from momentary listening to full engagement in what they're saying. Carefully take notes on everything.
Your diligence and accuracy in doing this lay the foundation for the next three steps.
Initiate Changing Your Listening and Response Style. After completing the first step, strive to establish a balance in how you listen to your child. You cannot actively listen with full attention every time your child speaks, nor should it be the case, especially if your child is talkative. However, you can decide in which situations you should pay less or more attention to them. You might be able to determine in which situations, how, and to what extent you should consciously listen to them. If necessary, modify your response when they interrupt your speech. Let them know that you understand they want to say something but they need to wait until your conversation with a third person concludes, or when they address you while you are engaged in a task, you can communicate that you can listen to them simultaneously. The key point is to learn that you can change your listening habits. Practice this stage for two more days.
Attempt to Understand His/Her Emotions in Their Words. After completing the
second step, for a few days, listen to how your child speaks. Pay attention to
the tone of voice they use when expressing their emotions and intentions, the
emphasis they place on certain words, the pauses between their speech, and
how they repeat phrases or sentences to capture your attention. Also, be
attentive to their eye contact with you. These guidelines should help you listen
more attentively and respond more appropriately to the speech and emotions
that may be hidden within it.
This is the foundation of being a good listener and a suitable conversationalist. Keep in mind that you are examining your natural interactions with your child. For now, no effort should be made on your part to change it. As you continue to learn when to listen carefully and when to show less attention, you can find ways to convey to them that a shift in your focus on their everyday activities doesn't mean you don't care about them. Occasionally, with conscious and premeditated decisions, pause other activities to demonstrate to them that you love them and value them. They quickly learn when they genuinely need you and seek your attention, you are eager and capable to respond.
Identify Situations Requiring Immediate and Precise Listening. Try to recognize
situations where your immediate and precise listening is necessary. Identify
signals that your child sends as an urgent need for your listening, such as
auditory cues that might be a noticeable change in vocal volume. Unusual
pauses between speech or word repetition, all of which typically occur much
earlier than when a child resorts to crying. As listening is a crucial part of the
process of verbal communication and is directly linked to emotions,
establishing or improving the habit of good listening directly affects the
psychological aspect of your child's speech.
Keep in mind that listening should be an enjoyable and encouraging experience, not something difficult or burdensome. Remember that listening should be a pleasant and encouraging experience, not something hard or costly.
How you talk to your child and how you listen to them are closely related.
Sometimes, it may seem like you're always addressing your child. You provide
them with information, set rules, reprimand them, and correct their behavior
using your words and tone. While you engage in conversations with them
regularly, you often find yourself addressing them directly, and you're usually
the one doing most of the talking. Conduct conversations in a way that both
you and your child have a share in the dialogue and exchange of ideas.
It's no wonder that some children are more sensitive. By establishing a balance between times when you address your child and times when you converse with them, you can prevent creating sensitivity. Engaging in discussions about various topics will be pleasant for both of you.
Mother: What a lovely cartoon it is! Why have all the animals gathered in the jungle?
Mother: Arash, you don't seem happy! Is that right? Well, now tell Mom what's going on...
Discuss topics that matter to your child. Help your child find talking to be a pleasant experience. Over the course of a few days, listen to your conversations with your child for at least five minutes each day. You can record the conversation and listen carefully at an appropriate time. Pay attention to how and to what extent you address them. Then, voluntarily and deliberately extend the time and choose topics that allow you to have more discussions with them. Let them know and understand that you patiently listen to them and allow the conversation to continue as long as they want. However, if they don't want to talk or continue the conversation, never force them into it.
One of the situations you can engage in a conversation with them is when they ask a question or provide a theory about something. They will enjoy your attention and learn that conversations can be enjoyable.
Remember, the key is to create an open and enjoyable atmosphere for communication with your child.
Let's imagine that you're trying to provide good speech examples for your
child. This means speaking clearly and distinctly, using appropriate words for
objects and definitions. We hope you use sentences and words suitable for
their age. Do you usually speak quickly and fluently? If so, your child likely
attempts to mimic your speech pattern. Although they haven't fully mastered
speech skills yet, this can lead to some slips and errors. If you've noticed such
inconsistencies in your speech, try to speak more deliberately and introduce
short, necessary pauses between your words. Don't speak rapidly or without
If your sentences are long, complex, and filled with subtleties and innuendos, your child may struggle to understand and respond appropriately. Therefore, they may experience speech difficulties. Aim to use simpler and shorter sentences, especially when conversing with them. Give them ample time to speak. You can get accustomed to actively listening and being patient. Let them know that "Mommy," "Daddy," "Sister," etc. have plenty of opportunities to be heard.
Talk more about what you're doing, such as cooking, washing dishes or clothes, cleaning up, or fixing the car. The more verbal interaction there is within the family, the quicker the child learns that speech isn't just for reprimanding, scolding, or punishment; it can also be pleasant. In specific situations, reassure your child that the family pays attention to what they say. Even if it means controlling siblings or other family members, it's important for everyone to learn that they should give others a chance to speak. This helps the child understand that they can't always be the sole speaker whenever they want and that they should also allow others to have their say. The key point is to create positive speech experiences.
Make a habit of reading books and telling stories to your child regularly. After reading their favorite story several times, ask them to retell the story or complete the sentences during pauses, allowing them to use their own words. If you find storytelling challenging, use interesting pictures, images, and ageappropriate text to help. You can also share stories from your own childhood or theirs, focusing on joyful and true experiences. Children love such stories. Try to find a daily opportunity for storytelling, either through pictures or books, and choose times when there are no distractions. You can share stories about interesting activities from their childhood while in the car or waiting in line. If they're occupied with TV most of the time and you don't find a suitable opportunity, set a specific time to turn off the TV and let your child know that it's storytelling time. Even spending ten minutes a day on storytelling can make a significant difference in your child's behavior.
Have you told your child that you love them? If they haven't learned the
appropriate model from you, expressing their feelings can become challenging.
Pay attention to what makes you laugh. Do you laugh at something that causes
someone embarrassment or blushing? In that case, you are teaching your
child. They need to learn that laughter can have various reasons. Talk to them
about the reasons behind your laughter. Laugh at funny things, not things that
are hurtful. If you use mocking tones or sarcasm towards others but want them
to refrain from causing harm to others, whether physically or emotionally, this
inconsistency can become a source of conflict, leading to insecurity and
emotional discomfort for them.
When you sense their embarrassment, talk to them and listen to what they have to say. There can be various reasons for their distress or anger—failure to achieve a desire, stubborn demands for possession, or a tendency to harm others. Imitation, bad temper, and improper behavior by parents or others are among such cases. Assist them in choosing the right way to express their desires. With the appropriate model you provide, help them understand how they can express their goals gently. When they find the proper way to express their feelings, the inner conflict that causes some of their discomfort diminishes.
Forcing a child to speak can lead to speech difficulties. For instance, asking
them to recount an interesting event in front of family or friends, or sharing
something interesting they did with Aunt Mina or Aunt Mehri.
It's natural for us to ask children to say "please," "thank you," "hello," "goodbye," and the like, and encourage them to use these phrases. However, unknowingly, these directive speeches can increase pressure and tension in the child, which in turn can lead to speech difficulties. These tensions can be minimized if you give them the opportunity to acquire these phrases according to their own conditions and developmental pace.
Speech is not the only means of communication between us and others. Deep
feelings of well-being or discomfort can be established between you and your
child without verbal communication. Most people only consider
communication to be through expressing thoughts and opinions, while there
are various methods of communication.
You may already know this, but you might underestimate its importance as your child grows. Your child used to utter meaningless words before acquiring speech, but those words, although devoid of meaning, could establish a connection with others through their unintelligible and clumsy expression. If a positive response was given to such communication, both sides would feel content. As your child grows, they continue to use initially meaningless and then gradually recognizable words for communication. The same goes for us adults, as certain words gradually lose their significance over time. We might say "Sam" instead of "hello" or "ref" instead of "went," without paying attention to the meaning and proper usage of the words. If you listen carefully to your child, you'll notice that they often use speech for contact and attention-seeking, like saying "Mom, something's in my eye!" or "Dad, look at my foot, it's injured"!
The type of responses and reactions you give to your child's questions are just as important as paying attention to their words for their understanding. Does your child ask a series of questions? Does he always want to capture your attention? Especially when you're busy, repeated questioning or asking questions he already knows the answers to are simple signs of seeking your emotional attention. While you become more aware of the hidden emotional connection in such speech, you can respond in a more appropriate way by considering his need for attention.
Explore other ways of expressing feelings besides conversation. Sometimes, just look at him and smile. If he asks why you're smiling, tell him it's because you love him and your smile is a sign of affection. Occasionally, when he passes by you, give him a pat on the head. The way you look at him can express your love and pride just as words do. Help him approach challenging tasks with enthusiasm. But never expect him to be grateful for your love.
Analyzing the use of voice tone involves paying attention to variations in pitch,
loudness, and intonation in both your speech and your child's. To uncover the
underlying emotions in speech, you might need to first analyze your own
expressions and behavior. When you're not actively engaged in conversation,
listen to others. You can leave an audio recording on for a while during the day
and then listen to certain parts of what's been recorded. What do you hear?
You'll likely discover that when you're angry, you may speak loudly and even
Sometimes, despite intense anger, you can control your tone of voice when speaking with certain individuals. However, you might not do the same with your child. Your vocal characteristics can vary between authoritative and compassionate. How much of your tone conveys criticism or reprimand with your child, and how much reflects love and intimacy? Try to make changes in how you use your voice so that it validates positive and constructive emotions more. Emotional closeness with your child is more important than just talking to them. A child's life is full of various opportunities to empower them to be strong and independent, not fearful and weak. Aim to alter your speech in a way that cultivates positive and constructive emotions in your child.
There are undoubtedly moments when you feel a stronger sense of closeness
with your child. These moments often occur when you're engaged in other
activities, such as walking, cooking, cleaning, repairing, or shopping – tasks that
don't require extensive conversation and involve fewer words. If these
moments occur more frequently, even for short periods, your child will feel a
greater sense of security, and stuttering may decrease. While these joyful
moments happen spontaneously, you can also create more opportunities for
Shared activities with your child might include playing together, gathering toys, or going to the park. However, all your planned activities might not automatically foster the desired connection with your child. Gradually, without even using words, you can develop a meaningful relationship that reassures your child of your affection.
It's important to note that overly affectionate and insincere words are easily perceived as fake by children. Genuine expressions of love and care are more effective in building trust and connection. Over time, your consistent actions and interactions will speak volumes about your feelings, allowing your child to feel genuinely loved and valued.