“THE OTHER KIDS LAUGH AT ME”: HOW TO HELP KIDS WITH STUTTERING OR SPEECH ISSUES DEAL WITH OTHER KIDS
“You should never make fun of something that a person can’t change about themselves” – Phil Lester (British radio personality and vlogger with over four million subscribers)
What did you get teased about growing up? Was it your appearance? Hair? Clothes? Perhaps, you were socially awkward or just didn’t “fit in”. Whatever the case, we have all been somebody’s victim at one time or another.
Those off-the-cuff comments, exaggerated impressions or the stifled giggles and chuckles; they may take just a few brief moments to deliver but they can stay with us for a whole lifetime.
Compounded by the fact that speech forms such an important aspect of our daily communication and interactions with others, it can be all too easy for those suffering from a stutter to become withdrawn in social situations. Many victims of teasing report feelings of shame, guilt, anxiety and anger 1. Understandably, it can often feel like the physical stammer is easier to deal with than the reactions of others!
Arguably, the most difficult things to be bullied, teased or mocked about are those aspects of ourselves that we can’t control. Stuttering (also known as a stammer) can be one such example, but with professional support, it is possible for people to learn techniques that can allow for a greater degree of control over this condition.
“My Son/Daughter Is Being Bullied About Their Stammer. What Should I Do?”
Knowing that your child is being victimised is a heartbreaking experience for parents. Sometimes this can come as a surprise as it can be easy for parents to underestimate the effects of the child’s stutter which can be less obvious in a relaxed home setting compared to a school or social environment.
Teach your child there is nothing “wrong” with them, tell them instead that they have what’s known as a neurophysical conditional and that it’s not their fault.
Patiently listen to your child. Make careful note of the words they use (“angry/upset / lonely”) and the feelings they describe. Repeating these phrases back to your child shows that you truly understand and empathize 3. Try role-playing some responses your child could give and decide which ones would or wouldn’t be appropriate.
If the situation does not improve, contact your child’s school or the setting where the bullying is taking place. Make sure they are aware of the situation, and have strategies in place to deal with it.
When Should We Involve A Speech And Language Pathologist (SLP)?
Referral to a speech and language pathologist is ideal and should be sought at the earliest opportunity, although it should be stressed that this needs to be agreed by the child. An SLP will help to ensure that they work in combination with parents, teachers and the child to overcome their stammer and lessen the impact that this has on their lives. Read more about the difference between stuttering and cluttering.
- Bill, M. (2000 September). Speech Pathologists Can Help Children Who Are Teased Because They Stutter. Retrieved from https://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/ISAD3/papers/murphy.html
- Signe, W. (2011, October 19). 7 Skills for Teaching Your Child to Stand-Up to Bullies. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/passive-aggressive-diaries/201110/7-skills-teaching-your-child-stand-bullies
- Supporting Children Who Stammer – Suggestion Sheets [Web Page]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.stammeringcentre.org/suggestions
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