Stop Saying "Um"
It's like fingernails across a chalkboard: Every time your
10-year-old opens his mouth, he peppers his talk with "um," "uh," and
other annoying fillers. Why does he, like, do that? Because it's common
among preteens, who, as they try out more sophisticated ways to
communicate, use words like "um," "like," and "you know" while they
figure out what to say next, says Joan Detz, author of Can
You Say a Few Words? They also pick it up from other kids,
There's nothing wrong with an occasional
"um" or "you know," but if your child's speech is so overrun with such
words that he's hard to understand, you'll want to help him cut down on
them. That way, he'll express himself more confidently to teachers and
other grown-ups, who'll be more likely to take what he says seriously.
To help right speech wrongs:
own "ums." Kids pick up bad speech patterns from other
kids--but your child could also be taking his cues from you. Let him
hear you speak with clarity, confidence, and enthusiasm, and he'll more
likely speak the same way.
practice, practice. set a timer for one minute and ask
him to tell you about his day, using as few crutch words as possible
until the timer goes off. Tell him "Great job!" if he uses few or no
fillers; try expanding the time as he
Let him say it
again. When you hear crutch words, wait until your child
stops speaking, then gently ask him to start over, without the "ums."
Explain that you'll understand him better. It'll help him focus on his
thoughts and choose the right words.
his echo. Kids don't hear what they're saying wrong, so
repeat it back. say "Did you say 'Mom, I, um, want to, like, go to
Paul's house?'" This will help him become more aware of his