As parents we want our kids to tell us more, but often we’re frustrated by their one-word responses; leaving us curious and pressing for more info.
Make it more fun (and less of an interrogation) with questions suggested by Huffington Post! Click here for the full article.
Here are some of our favorites:
Where is the coolest place at the school?
Tell me something good that happened today.
If you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?
If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?
If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?
Think these could work for your kids? Try it out and let us know how it goes!
3 Tips for Active Listening (between adults and kids)
1. Get down to the child's level, shoulder-to-shoulder. Sit down and meet them at eye level.
2. Ask yourself - 'How much am I talking here?’ Optimal balance is 50/50. This way we do half the talking and the child does half the talking
3. We need to start to think about talking with the language complexity that matches the child. Talk about trains, bugs, whatever they want!
I would like to recommend the book, ‘How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk’, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. In this book, you'll see cartoon illustrations and chapters that really talk about a lot of what I’ve just talked about. A second book I would recommend, is the book called, ‘Brain Rules for Babies’, by John J. Medina. It's written in a way that's very easy to consume, but it's written by a scientist, someone I recommend and really respect.
Click the video above to start watching
The Right Way Vs. the Wrong Way
There is no right way
There is a wrong way, which is to try to do a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.
We may be the professionals and we may be the experts, but we're not the boss. A mother's intuition, a father's intuition is the best knowledge and the best guide in the process.
remember what stuttering is
a physical issue not an emotionally based issue
a neurophysiological issue, which involves the coordination of signals and neurons in the brain setting up the coordination of the speech mechanism
Stuttering is NOT
a learning disability
caused by anxiety
caused by parents
Good Communication Values
Plant communication values during moments of opportunity. You don't teach values, you plant them.
If we can listen to what the child has to say and practice active listening at the moment that the child is getting stuck, we can send a very powerful message to that young child. And that message is:
“What you have to say is worth listening to, no matter how it comes out. I'm listening to what you have to say more than how you say it”.
Click the video above to check it out!
some tips and strategies for working with your pre-schooler who stutters:
1. Understand the whole child
What are their language skills?
Are they having trouble with language?
Do they have trouble understanding language?
Maybe they understand language very well, but they have trouble expressing themselves. You want to understand everything about their language.
2. Look at their temperament
Some kids are really rough and tough, ‘rock’em sock’em’. They just keep ticking, no matter what happens.
Some kids are really sensitive. They're sensitive themselves and they tend to be very sensitive towards others.
I'd work differently with a four-year-old with an easy going temperament versus one with a tougher temperament.
3. Provide CUSTOM therapy
Our goal, whatever approach we’re going to be employing is that we don't throw any approach or anything too rigid on anybody. We try to:
tailor fit the right therapy
borrow from the best research and popular approaches out there
But none of them are a cure-all for every child. So, it's a real decision-making process, engaging the parents, putting the parents in the driver's seat, and making sure that we're working with the child.
4. Treat them like people
we need to make sure that the communication that we encourage between parents and children is naturalistic, not artificial and plastic.
In doing so, hopefully we can help them with the physical side of stuttering, and also help them with the communication values to keep talking and have the confidence they were born with!
Scroll down to read transcription.
Good evening. Thank you Dr. Kinsey and Renata Henry for this opportunity. And thank you to the graduating class. It is an honor to be here at Hewitt, speaking with you, at your alumni induction dinner.
I was told that the “word of the year” is “failure.” I know a little about that. I’ve done it several times. At this point, I would say I’ve learned to “fail very well.”
I want to share some words about my experiences at Hewitt, my journey and my failures.
TIME AT HEWITT:
It’s been 10 years since I graduated in the class of 2008, but my memories of my time here, are as vivid as ever. I remember my first day of Kindergarten, coming into my classroom, greeted by Ms. Notham and meeting the kids in my class. As much as I remember the visual scene; I also so remember the visceral feeling. It felt warm and inviting. It felt like a community.
I came to Hewitt as a child with a unique set of gifts, as well as a unique set of challenges. I had physical differences and learning difficulties unlike many of my classmates.
I worried if I would fit in. I wondered if I would measure-up to my parents’ and teachers’ expectations. I questioned what my future life could look like. Would I fail? Would I be able to make-it through and succeed? And it was scary at times.
CHALLENGES @ HEWITT:
Due to my learning challenges, geometry was really challenging. I thought math was about numbers, and then it became all about shapes and figures. (Until we got to algebra and that’s when math became all about letters a, b, c and x, y z.) I remember my teacher sitting down with me, telling me “don’t give up” - “you got this!”
Sports were also harder for me. I couldn’t run as fast as some of my peers because of my physical differences. I remember how my teachers supported and motivated me to “stick with it” and persevere even though it was hard.
There were many times I was overwhelmed. I wanted a pass. I wanted to quit.
I am where I am today, because I didn’t quit.
I am where I am today because of my teachers.
I am where I am today because of my family.
I am where I am today because of my inner resilience - I would show the world who I am on the inside!
And I am where I am today because of my differences.
Along the way, I learned how much, one-person can make a life-changing impact for another person. My friends, my teachers and my family, made the difference for me. And I am forever grateful, and ever-eager to give back.
GOALS AND PURPOSE IN LIFE:
So, it’s no surprise, I dreamt of a career of helping others, and paying-it-forward.
In the upper school, I enjoyed electives like “Anatomy and Physiology” and “Intro to Psychology.” I dreamt of becoming a doctor or psychologist.
So, when I went off to college, I registered for the courses in sciences and psychology. But it wasn’t what I expected! I didn’t enjoy the course material and by all measures, I failed the class. Suddenly, I was confronted by the fact that my dream of becoming a doctor or psychologist wasn’t looking likely. I was back to square-one. I wondered, and I feared:
What course of study was right for me?
What career should I pursue?
Was I going to be a failure?
It was then, I remembered geometry, gym class and the many times I struggled and even failed tests. In fact, it got so rough, there was a time in Hewitt middle school when we were considering whether Hewitt was the best place for me. Needless to say - I dug deeper, and found resources and success I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Sometimes, failure is like that: it forces you to dig deeper than you think you can. To tap into a reservoir of otherwise untapped power and ability. So, following my “failed attempt” with the sciences and psychology, I pivoted to linguistics and language disorders. These classes interested me, I enjoyed the material and I was excited by the career of speech language pathology. I declared my major in Speech Language Pathology. I graduated Marymount Manhattan College with my BA in Speech Language Pathology and thought to myself, grad school is the next step in my path to career success.
Well… I was in for a big surprise.
I succeeded in receiving admission to graduate school at Lehman College, AND coursework continued to be of-interest, AND even I performed well on coursework, BUT... the clinical practicum was really challenging for me. As hard as
I tried, I wasn’t finding my way and I wasn’t meeting my professors’ expectations. I tried my hardest the first time, and even after failing my practicum, I tried again, repeating the practicum a second time, and failing again. Double fail.
I realized I wasn’t able to succeed in the training - and the graduate program wasn’t a good fit for me. So I made the difficult decision to accept my failure, and I terminated my studies in Speech Language Pathology. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t a bright time for me. At this point, I had failed in my first pursuit of medicine and psychology. And now I had also failed in my pursuit to speech language pathology. 2 strikes. I didn’t know what to do. What kind of future was in-store for me? I was a flurry of ideas, doubts and challenges during this time.
And then, a few experiences coincided:
1. My friend Valentine was creating a website for her nutrition practice.
2. And I was discussing my situation with a friend who is a speech therapist, and he suggested there might be a way to “give back,” doing meaningful work, making a difference and really achieving everything I wanted to achieve as a speech language pathologist - even if I wasn’t going to be a speech language pathologist.
And from these different experiences, conversations and insights, Different and Able was born in the fall of 2017.
I decided to use social media and a website to provide support and resources for people with “differences.” My passion grew; I invested more and more time collecting resources and personal stories; meeting leading professionals and celebrities; and starting a proper non-profit organization to grow Different and Able. My failures. My “near strike-out” actually laid the foundation for my foundation.
Through the Different & Able Foundation I am:
Empowering people who live with physical, learning, speech, emotional and medical differences;
Offering hope and inspiration, professional resources and a community of ongoing support;
Building a more diverse and tolerant community, with bridges of access for all people, irrespective of the differences in their abilities.
The website will launch soon. For now, you can follow-us on Instagram @differentandable
Now you see, I may have failed courses but I learned many lessons. I learned to reach high. I learned to work hard, and then when it gets tough… work harder. I learned to listen to myself. And I learned to lean-on others and listen to others’ journeys. And I learned that when you reach your limits, that’s where the real growth begins.
At my Hewitt graduation, I remember the speech delivered by Carolynn Erisman, the then Assistant Head of School. She called it: “Life is not a straight line”. Life isn’t a linear equation. It isn’t a straight line from here to who you become. Lean-into-it.
As the saying goes: “You may try and fail. Just make sure, you don’t fail to try!”
And if you do try, I promise you will find your meaning and purpose. And when you do, and whatever you become, come back to Hewitt to share your story so some 12th grade girls, and even younger ones, can learn from your life journey and find what path they choose to try.
In this video, we learn about a family of school-age child who stutters, working together to find descriptive language - as opposed to judgmental language (i.e. good/bad) - to talk about stuttering.
Top 5 Words to Talk About "Stuttering"
* NOTICE: Can you see the descriptive language - and the absence of judgemental language?
** Also, try to use words to describe what it is (i.e. "tense"); and not what it's not (i.e. "not easy").
You can see how it gets confusing using negatives ;-)
Top 5 Words TO TALK ABOUT "FLUENCY"
* NOTICE: These words are centered on the experience of the speaker / talker; how it feels for the speaker (i.e. sticky, easy). As opposed to focusing exclusively on how it is perceived by the listener (ie. stuttering or fluent).
EXERCISE: Build YOUR OWN (FAMILY) "vocabulary"
TIPS: Try with your family
Keeping it light-hearted (even fun) thinking of words to describe speech (both "stuttering" and "fluency")
Brainstorm altogether, or see if each person can create their own list and then share with each other.
See who can come up with the most words!
Put the words in a notebook, on your phone notepad or on the fridge; and begin to use these words when talking about speech. You can even discuss sharing "your personalized vocabulary" with therapists, teachers, family.
Watch our video!
If we were talking to an adult, we would (hopefully) consider their experiences, their feelings, their concerns... We would consider whether they like surprises, or like to be informed in advance; whether they prefer to skip the details, or prefer to know exactly what to expect.
Speech therapy is not part of the everyday routine. It's not like the universal daily ritual (wrestle) of brushing teeth.
Let's be honest, speech therapy is unusual. It's different. And it's often unclear what it is, what it looks like and how it works.
So, if you're a parent or a therapist, ask yourself these questions, BEFORE speaking to your child. Of course you might discuss some of these questions WITH your child.
And you might speak with the professional IN ADVANCE of your appointment - so everyone is on-the-same-page.
And this conversation should be ongoing, checking-in during the first meeting and subsequent appointments, to ensure the "young person" is taken into account.
What's going through the child's mind?
The example I think of is something I heard from Dr. Carol Westby, one of giants in in research and clinical speech-language pathology. She contributed loads of research, assessments and more to show us how children learn through play.
Now, for example, if you think about how children learn to swim, children don't learn how to swim when they're terrified of/in the water. They learn how to swim only after they're comfortable to "splish splash" and fool-around in the water.
So, what that means for us is this: children don't learn when they're terrified. None of us do.
We may memorize something out of fear, we may be able to spit it back on a test, but we're not really learning, long-term, deep learning. Long-term, deep, learning happens when you feel safe. Learning and therapy for that matter, happens when you feel interested and curious; when you feel secure; when you feel there's someone on the other side that has something to offer you. When you feel that other person "gets you," responds to you and can enlighten you.
WORDS THAT TURN-OFF:
WORDS THAT TURN-ON:
These are ways to create a bridge, to create trust, and once you do that, you can have a very productive relationship, and you can really work on very sensitive things.
I think that's the way to set-up "how we talk about therapy." Whether it's a young child, or an older child, or a teen, or an adult, we should make sure to make it relevant; make sure to address points of concern (and even resistance), and make it matter of fact, and description not judgmental.
If we prepare well, then we can engage in therapy with the confidence that we want to have - and assured that our kids will have the confidence they crave. After all, we all deserve to feel safe and secure.
Watch our video!
Parents often ask what they can do to help build their kids self-esteem.
Self-esteem on the one hand is such an important topic, and on the other hand it's really unclear what it is. What is "self-esteem"? As compared to- what is confidence? What is self-image? Are they the same, different...
I'd like to suggest a paradigm shift. Let's re-think "self-esteem." Instead of being something we build into the child, let's recognize it as an innate gift, included within every newborn child. Consider this: no baby looks in the mirror and thinks negatively of themselves! In reality, every baby is born "in-love with themselves" wholly as they are. At some point later on, experiences and feedback from their environment that can send them messages, and over time those negative/doubtful/critical messages chip-away at what was whole.
So when we think about self-esteem let's think about what our kids are born with, and how they see themselves.
If they have differences (a stutter, speech- language-challenges, learning disability, communication challenge, physical anomalies) then the question we ask ourselves should be early and often, as they develop into childhood and adolescence:
TIP#1 HOW can WE amplify the ways they identify themselves with thier unique strengths, talents and characteristics
TIP #2 How can we influence the self-reflection they see when they look in the mirror of life; so their points of difference are not the defining or dominant characteristics
Certainly their unique completion of being make them no less and no more than anyone else.
If we can help young people grow-up with a sense of who they are, and what makes them unique - then we can raise them with a nuanced sense of self-esteem. This sort of self-esteem will lead to confidence and positive self-image through school years, teenage years, young adulthood and beyond - and most valuable of all, will lead them to grow-up as responsible citizens of the world with compassionate and understanding for themselves, and others.