Top tips from the MPC
You might already have figured out some things that help you and that’s great!
Do you want to know about some ideas that have come up in our therapy groups? Maybe you’ll find something new that you’d like to try out.
Whatever you try remember to give yourself a pat on the back for having a go!
Our very top tip: remember it’s ok to stammer
This is the most important idea on this page! Instead of feeling bad because you stammer remember that everyone is different and that’s ok. What you say and the things you do are more important than the fact that your words sometimes get stuck. Find out about famous people who also stammer (try googling it) and you’ll find out that stammering isn’t anything to be ashamed of.
Now have a look at some other top tips – what might be interesting to try?
How can I get help if these tips aren’t enough?
Doing anything is harder when you’re in a hurry. Talking is just the same and especially if you have a stammer. You might want to speak quickly to get the stammer over with but have a go at giving yourself time to think and maybe going down a gear if you usually talk pretty fast. Slowing down gives all the systems in your brain and mouth time to synch up and this might help.
Does it feel like pushing the word out will help? Well it might but it might also make things even more tense, tight and stuck.
Sometimes doing the opposite of what feels instinctive is what works. Instead of fighting your stammer or pushing hard, try to see if it’s possible to stop and relax a little and just wait for it to pass (it will).
It can be tempting to choose a different word or hang back if you think you might stammer. You might feel you want to wait until you’re not quite so nervous or feel more certain that you won’t stammer before you say anything. It’s natural to hang back if things feel scary.
Deciding to say what you want to say, even if you do stammer, or deciding to do something that is out of your comfort zone might take bags of courage. The good news is we can all practice courage like we practice anything!
If you want to join in more then have a go at gathering your courage and speaking up just a little bit. Feel proud of yourself for having a go and remember that it’s speaking up that matters not whether or not you stammer.
This one doesn’t sound so interesting but it IS important! Remember how your brain needs to use lots of different networks when you talk? Well if you’re tired your brain just can’t work as well as if you got a good night’s sleep.
If you stay up late (on your phone or iPad, or watching TV) remember that your brain needs sleep and see if you can switch off screen time a little earlier.
What else can you do to help your brain get the sleep it needs?
Our minds are designed to look for problems and things that we’re not happy with. This would have helped early human beings survive (when they had to be really good at looking out for danger) but it’s not so helpful for us now.
Try training your brain to notice things that are going well and that you’re pleased about and see what that’s like. You could keep a ‘pleased to notice’ diary and write down one thing each day. Noticing the good stuff and congratulating yourself, especially when you do something that is a bit out of your comfort zone, can help grow your confidence.
It’s easy to be hard on ourselves (especially if it feels like we messed up). Kids who stammer often say that they get cross with themselves because they stammer.
But researchers have found that children and teenagers (and adults) feel better when they are kind to themselves. After all, everyone is learning stuff and nobody is perfect.
Practice giving yourself a break sometimes. Being kinder to yourself will help you learn to cope with difficulties and this will help you to be more confident.
Human beings have a tendency to worry – whether it’s about what people might think, or what might happen. It’s how our minds work but our minds are not always being helpful.
Notice if your mind is telling you unhelpful stuff (like “I won’t be able to say it”, “They’re going to laugh at me” or “It will be a disaster”).
When we get caught up in worries then chances are we will feel much more anxious and tense and that usually doesn’t help!
Try noticing worry thoughts and just letting them come and go without listening to them too much. Or try saying something more helpful to yourself like “I’ll do ok” or “I might stammer but I can handle it.”
Lots of people who stammer keep it to themselves but this can be lonely and it can make it feel like stammering has to be kept secret.
Letting people know that you have a stammer and talking about it might help you feel better about it. You may also find that other people are interested in it or that it’s not a big deal to anyone. If someone asks you about your speech try saying “Sometimes I stammer which means I get a bit stuck”.
Some children decide to talk to their classes about stammering. Some children have even made animations about stammering!
If you’re having a really tough time because of stammering and it might feel hard to talk about, remember that human beings generally do better when they let someone know how they feel. If you’re having a tough time find someone you can talk to and let them know.
These are things that might seem to help but don’t really, or don’t in the long term. For example, if you decide to not put your hand up in class it might feel like a relief (you’re ‘off the hook’) but what if you want to be someone who says things in class. Ultimately, deciding not to speak may not help you be the person you want to be.
Other examples of tricks:
- Changing words. This might seem like a good idea but it means that you don’t quite say what you really mean and it’s hard work too!
- Taking a deep breath before you speak. Has anyone suggested this? It actually increases tension in your body so won’t help. It’s better to keep breathing as naturally as possible.
- Looking down or away. Lots of people who stammer say that they look away when they stammer because it feels easier. But it can make people think you’ve lost interest and it can make you look less confident. It’s better to look at people and show confidence – even if you’re pretending a little bit.
- Adding extra sounds or using other movements to get through a stammer. Over time this extra stuff can become part of your stammer. Instead try to ‘just stammer’ without doing any extra stuff around it to either hide your stammer or push the words out
Sometimes you just need someone to talk to
Sometimes you just need someone to talk to
Our Helpline, 020 3316 8100, is open during office hours (9am-5pm) and voicemail messages can be left when the office is closed.
“The MPC ACT course has had an immediate impact on my practice as an SLT working with young people with a stammer. All the practical activities meant that I was able to implement elements of this approach literally the next day with empowering results for my teenage clients. Its emphasis on acceptance makes it an important resource for all therapists and essential for those working with people who stammer.”