How to Cope With Stammering

Coping with stammering can be emotionally challenging and a lonely fight. My first recognition of this was when my four year old son finally told us how miserable he was in his daycare setting because the other children had been picking on him about his stammering and speech impediment. The more he went to daycare, the worse he felt. What made it even worse was that he told my husband and me that he had tried to tell the daycare staff about the other children taunting him about his stammer (stutter) and that they could not understand what he was trying to tell them. The experience of being made fun of for something he could not control was devastating to me as a parent and I realized then that we needed to find the right help for his stuttering. At the same time we needed to learn to cope with his stammering in a comforting environment while we looked for resources to help us solve his speech problem.

I saw that my son's experience at daycare with his stammering was quickly changing our happy, outgoing, positive and energetic child into a very reserved, serious, unsmiling individual who was deeply saddened inside. Then, severe separation anxiety began to crop up when he started kindergarden. He knew that when he was with us, we could understand him and would be patient with him as he got his words out; while at school, it was another story.

For someone who stutters, the simple truth is: When their means to communicate with others shut down under stress (due to stuttering or stammering) and trying to communicate with others causes stress; they find themselves in a nasty cycle of stammering and more stammering. In other words, the more a stutterer tries to tell someone something and stutters and can not be understood; the more frustrated they get, which causes stress and leads to more stammering!

So, if you are battling your stammer (or stutter) it is time to take a big time-out! Frustration only feeds the fire when one is trying to beat their stammer or stutter and learning methods to give yourself a time-out or do-over needs to be a part of your new strategy. You are going to start from the ground up and build a better new you– one that is going to love all the parts of you! We loved our son no matter what or how he tried to get his words out and we learned to understand him as he tried to get his words out; however, over time, he started to love himself a little less as his stammering worsened. He reacted to the taunting and teasing he received at daycare and at school and turned it inward. Do not let this be your story! Instead, learn what makes your stutter worse, what words are especially difficult for you, and what environmental stresses cause your stutter to worsen. Once you identify what causes you to stammer, you can begin building a comfortable and positive environment for you to work on coping with your stammer.

Remember, curing your stammer begins by building back your self-esteem so that you can tackle working through the speech therapy needed to help you recover from your stutters and stammers. Surround yourself with supportive people who will keep your environment positive, even when you hit a frustrating bump in the road. Lastly, finding a mentor to model your recovery after is a good idea. Terry McElhinney is an example of such a mentor. Now a famous kick-boxing champion in Great Britain, he has not forgotten that his fight with stammering almost cost him his career. Now that he has cured his stammer, he devotes his life to mentor others in their fight to stop stammering. You can stop stammering too, you just have to believe you can!