How to help children who Stammer

Stammering can be very frustrating and embarrassing. The Speech and Language Therapist can assess, treat, and/or advise the client, family and carers, but these are things that you can do to help someone who stammers.


What to do 

Slow your own speech down slightly. Children may find it easier to speak clearly if they speak slowly. However asking them to slow down is likely to make them feel stressed or more hurried. The best way to react is to slow the pace of the conversation naturally by slowing your own speech.

Maintain good eye contact. This lets the child knows you that you are listening and are interested.

Listen to what is said, not how the child says it. This will help to increase confidence and reduce the pressure on the child when he/she talks.

Use simple language that is easy for the child to understand to reduce the overall difficulty of the conversation.

Give opportunities for fluent speech. Activities such as singing or reciting familiar rhymes may be easier. Speaking aloud may be easier if the child is allowed to speak in unison with someone else.

Set aside one to one time to provide the opportunity for a shy child to approach you regarding work that they might find difficult. With older children this might also give the opportunity for a sensitive discussion of their difficulties. If they are aware that it is ok to stammer this can often reduce anxiety and actually make speech more fluent.

Comment on emotions that may be making a situation more stressful, e.g. ‘I can see that you are upset’. Avoid highlighting specific errors in speech.

What to avoid 

Asking the child to slow down, take a deep breath or start again.

Finishing his/her sentences or try to guess the word.

Drawing attention to the child’s problems or allow anyone to laugh at them.

Interrupting. This makes people feel rushed.

Asking too many questions. When you need to ask questions, try to give alternatives e.g. ‘Did it happen at home or at school?’

Keep a child waiting too long for their turn to speak in class, this can allow their anxiety to build up. Don’t ask the child to repeat something they have already said.








If you are concerned about a child in your class, you can refer him/her to the Speech and Language Therapy service, with the parents permission.

  • There is further information on the STAMMA website (previously known as the British Stammering Association)