Promoting Fluency of Speech

Parents of children who are referred for speech fluency concerns in preschool are often interested in ideas for enhancing their child’s speech fluency at home.  The following are some ideas for creating a fluency-friendly environment  by reducing communication demands throughout your child’s day: 

  • Remember that all speakers occasionally repeat words or phrases, interject words such as “um”, and make revisions as they talk.  Many preschool children have these disfluencies as a normal part of their speech development.
  • Decrease background noise and distractions when your child is trying to talk with you.  (Example:  Turn off the radio in your vehicle when your child wants to converse).
  • Model a slower rate of speech with increased pause time at natural breaks such as between phrases, where punctuation marks would fall in a sentence, and also between sentences.  Think “Mr. Rogers’ speech”!
  • Also increase the time you wait before responding to your child’s comments or questions.  This increased pause time between conversational turns will greatly reduce the pace of your verbal exchange.
  • Reduce the amount and frequency of questions that you ask your child.  Instead, make comments as lead-ins to conversation that encourage your child to respond. (Example:  Instead of asking “What did you do at school today?”, make comments to engage your child such as “Look at the painting you did at school today!” and then wait for their response.
  • Avoid placing your child in a position of “performance speech”.  This involves putting them in the spotlight in front of others and expecting them to perform, such as “Tell grandma your ABC’s”.
  • Do not mimic or imitate your child’s dysfluencies.
  • Maintain eye contact with your child during communication, even when your child may be dysfluent.
  • Wait for your child to finish utterances. Be patient during dysfluent episodes and do not interrupt your child, ask your child to slow down or start over.
  • Use non-verbal acknowledgements (nods, smiles) and sounds of acknowledgement (really?, hmm, oh, etc.) as your child is talking to indicate your attention and interest.
  • Stop what you’re doing when possible to look at and give your child your full attention when they are trying to communicate with you.

Additional Resources:

  1.   Official website of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

2.    Website of the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Communication Science.

3.    The Stuttering Foundation of America website.

4.   The National Stuttering Association website.

by Jennifer G. Lyden, MS, CCC-SLP/L

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