Childhood stuttering is certainly not an easy situation to navigate, particularly when the child is older. It can be a world full of frustration, embarrassment and distress for an older child. A 7 year old stuttering means increased stress at school, the pressure and anxiety involved in having to talk in front of peers can be quite traumatic compared to that in younger children.
In addition to speech therapy, there are a number of things parents can do at home to build confidence in a stuttering child which I have written about here. But when it comes to older children, it can also be effective to talk to your child about role models, for example, celebrities who stutter. This can be a very effective practice in building confidence in your child and helping them to understand that stuttering does not have to hold them back in life.
There are a surprising number of celebrities who have or did have a stutter, here’s just a few that you can share with your child:
Tiger Woods didn’t let stuttering get in the way of his career. He even opened the Tiger Woods Learning Centre back in 2006 because of his struggle with stuttering when he was a child.
It’s likely you’ve seen Emily Blunt in plenty of blockbuster movies and as an actress, you’d never know she had childhood stuttering issues. How did Emily overcome her stuttering to become a famous actress? She followed her teacher’s suggestion and tried saying her lines with an accent. It worked!
Who would have thought this action movie star ever had a stutter! Bruce Willis had a stutter from age 9 to 17. He claimed that whenever he acted, his stutter disappeared!
Samuel L. Jackson
Another Hollywood heavyweight who still has a stutter as an adult. He still has good days and bad days and if he is having trouble with a word, he finds a substitute.
James Earl Jones
If your child loves Star Wars or The Lion King, they’ll know who James Earl Jones is. He was the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars and the voice of Mufasa in The Lion King. As a child, James Earl Jones struggled with stuttering and because of it, he didn’t talk much, only to the animals on his farm. He also struggled with being teased at school.
Also known as ‘Shaq’, Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most famous names in the NBA. He grew up with a stutter and still has one today. He was terrified of talking at school for fear of being ridiculed. But look where he is today, although his NBA career is finished, he’s been in a number of movies.
It’s likely your child will know of Ed Sheeran and his popular music but probably don’t know that Ed had a stutter. But what stopped Ed’s stutter? It was rap music of all things. Because he had to learn every single word, it helped him to get rid of his stutter.
Ed recently shared a very important message with Mamamia about stuttering, the perfect message to end this article on and that you can share with your child who stutters:
“Even if you have quirks and weirdness, you shouldn’t be worried about that,” he said.
“Just be yourself because there’s no one in the world who can be a better you than you. And if you try to be the cool kid in class, you’ll end up being very boring. Be yourself, embrace your quirks. Being weird is a wonderful thing.
“Keep on pushing forward and, I did alright, you can do alright, too.”
By Vincent Borg
Vincent Borg is a leading specialist in stuttering therapy with almost 35 years of practice. He is the principal Speech Pathologist at Box Hill Speech Pathology Clinic.