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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Marge, M.S. CCC-SLP

How can I slow down my speech?

“What can I do to help my child’s speech and language?

There are many wonderful strategies that parents can use to help their children’s speech, language, and learning such as reading aloud to a child, providing a vocabulary rich environment, etc. One of the best ways to help a child process language is to speak slowly and clearly. It is also a wonderful strategy for helping young children who stutter. How does this help?

  • It gives the child time to process what you are saying.

  • A slower pace overall puts less pressure on the child to respond quickly so he can take the time to formulate his responses.

  • It provides a great model for speaking clearly and fluently.

“I just talk fast. I can’t slow down.”

It can be challenging for many people to slow down their speech. So how can we learn to slow down our speaking rate? Here are three strategies you can use:

  1. Practice saying sentences at different rates. Say a sentence quickly and then try to say the same sentence modeling the speech rate of someone who speaks slowly and clearly. You may need to practice this quite a bit to get the feel of it. It is helpful to record yourself because many people do not realize how quickly they are talking. As a model, I would recommend listening to Mr. Rogers who speech-language pathologists consider to have the ideal speech rate. Click the link to hear Mr. Rogers use his ideal speech rate not just when talking to children, but when testifying to Congress!

  2. Use pauses in your speech. Try to pause briefly after each sentence. For example, “I need to go to the store. (pause) I would like to buy some more vegetables for dinner tonight. (pause) What kind of vegetables would you like?” When giving two to three step directions to a child, try pausing after each direction (e.g. “Go upstairs (pause), brush your teeth (pause) and get changed.”). Also, pause between turns in conversation. Pausing puts less pressure on a child to respond quickly and gives them more time to formulate their responses.

  3. Stretch out multisyllabic words. Many times, when we speak quickly, we can crunch together words that have three or more syllables. Practice saying words like “unimportant”, “extraordinary”, and “neurological” slowly and then use them in sentences while stretching out the syllables. This helps to slow down your rate and provides a great model for children.

Try using a slower rate when talking with your child, reading to your child, and giving directions to your child. It may take a lot of effort at first, but your child will receive great benefits in the long run!

If you require a professional to coach you in this area, contact a licensed speech-language pathologist certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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