Counseling Parents in Stuttering: The Basics
All material Copyright © 1991-2009 Stuttering Foundation of America
Reprinted with the express permission of the Stuttering Foundation of America as originally published on their website.
By: The Stuttering Foundation
Parents usually have many questions for you about their child’s stuttering, including what caused the stuttering, what can be expected from therapy, how they can help their child at home, how to deal with teasing, or how his stuttering affects him in the classroom. They may also ask about how stuttering will affect their child’s future. These questions reflect not only the need for information about stuttering, but their anxieties, worries, and concerns for their child. Your answers to these questions can go in two general directions: (1) giving information and (2) providing emotional support. Many of us feel comfortable giving information but less so with providing emotional support.
When we involve parents in treatment, we often assume that they are capable of dealing with the many challenges inherent in the process including their own feelings about their child’s stuttering. This assumption may not always be true. One of the most important things we can do as clinicians is to help parents to express their feelings and to see the connection between their emotions and their actions. Once they understand this relationship we can help them develop new ways to respond. Parents who can recognize and cope with their thoughts, attitudes and emotions are effective partners in the child’s treatment. Think of the safety instructions we receive from flight attendants before our plane takes off. If there is an interruption or change in cabin pressure, oxygen masks automatically drop down. We are told to put our masks on first, and then help the child with their mask. In other words, parents need to take care of themselves before they can help the child who depends on them.
When you talk with the child’s parents, either face-to-face or over the phone, consider starting the conversation by simply asking them to tell you about their child. How the parent responds will guide you in where to go next: giving them information about stuttering or providing emotional support. Talk with parents in an open, honest way and listen carefully. Many times, your genuine interest in them and their child will provide emotional relief simply because they know someone cares and is willing to listen. The insights you share also provide reassurance.
If you feel the parents need additional information about stuttering, encourage them to contact The Stuttering Foundation at 1-800-992-9392, Stuttering Help, or provide them with information from this website. The Stuttering Foundation sends a free packet of information to parents, and the website has a wealth of resources for them. The Foundation publishes several books and videos specifically for parents including If Your Child Stutters: A Guide for Parents (6th edition, book #0011), Stuttering and Your Child: Questions and Answers (3rd edition, book #0022), and Stuttering and Your Child: A Videotape for Parents (video #0075). Click here to go to our online store. You can also download a list of suggestions for ways parents can help their child who stutters.
In addition, many public libraries have copies of Stuttering Foundation books and tapes available for check-out free of charge. For a list of these libraries, click here.
If you would like more information on counseling parents, the Stuttering Foundation offers several excellent resources. The book Effective Counseling in Stuttering Therapy (1st edition, book #0018) is available, as is the videotape Counseling: Listening To And Talking With Parents Of Children Who Stutter (video #0122). When purchased together, you can also earn continuing education hours for the book and video. Click here for more information.
Featured Organization: The Stuttering Foundation
We thank the Stuttering Foundation for allowing us to reprint their copyrighted article. For more information about this organization please visit Stuttering Help
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