Stuttering is sometimes common among toddlers and preschool age children as they learn to talk, but the child typically outgrows the stuttering and has normal speech as they get older. Typically, a child has only brief repetitions of some sounds and syllables or short words and the stuttering usually occurs when the child is excited, stressed or overly tired. Most of the time, the child doesn’t notice he is stuttering.
In some instances, stuttering can be genetic. Thus, if a parent stutters, the child is likely to stutter as well. Stuttering is also more common with boys.
You can take comfort in knowing that your child’s stuttering most likely won’t persist for more than two to three months, or at least gradually improve during that time. As you wait for the stuttering to go away on its own, you can follow these steps to help your child:
- Don’t correct or interrupt your child when he is talking, and ask others not to correct him as well.
- Don’t ask him to repeat himself or tell him to slow down.
- Don’t make him practice saying certain words or sounds.
- Talk to your child slowly and clearly and give him time to finish what he is trying to say.
- Talk to your child a lot by discussing his day, reading to him and sharing what you are doing.
- Try to minimize any stress or situations that may make the stuttering worse.
If your child’s stuttering does persist beyond a few months or is making him self-conscious or anxious when he speaks, he will likely benefit from the services of a speech pathologist.
Susan Matherly is director at A Children’s Place, a service of Ephraim McDowell Health. She has a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science and a master’s degree in public health education. She can be contacted at (859) 236-7176.