Stuttering is also called stammering. It is a speech disorder in which your child may repeat or prolong certain sounds or words or hesitate when speaking. It almost sounds like the words get stuck. Stuttering is very common in young children learning to speak but usually goes away as your child ages. Some children continue to stutter throughout childhood and into adulthood.
What causes stuttering?
Doctors aren’t sure exactly what causes stuttering, but the fact that it tends to run in families indicates that it may be at least partially genetic. Kids who stutter may have trouble mastering control over the muscles required for speech. Researchers do know that parents don’t cause stuttering. It was once thought that over-anxious parents could stress their child into stuttering. This is not true.
Is stuttering serious?
Stuttering itself is not serious, but the effects of stuttering can be significant. Kids who stutter may suffer from low-self esteem and embarrassment. This may prevent them from being socially involved with other children, and they may become anxious in social situations. Research shows that adults who stutter may not reach their full economic potential.
Can I prevent stuttering?
You can’t prevent stuttering but you can help your child overcome it.
How do I know if my child stutters?
Your child stutters if he appears to be having trouble getting some words out. He may repeat certain words or sounds, prolong certain words or sounds, or hesitate during speaking. He may also become frustrated when speaking because he can’t quite get the words out. Remember, stuttering is very common in children learning to speak, but stuttering that continues past the early preschool years is not normal.
How do I treat stuttering?
Many children stop stuttering naturally – they seem to outgrow it as they learn to speak more skillfully. However, you should never assume that your child will outgrow his stuttering. Make sure that your child speaks slowly and clearly and encourage him to relax when speaking. Stress can aggravate stuttering. A speech pathologist can help you diagnose and treat your child’s stuttering.
Should I call the doctor?
Your doctor can give you advice as to how to manage your child’s stuttering and when to become concerned. He can also refer you to a qualified speech therapist.
What you need to know about stuttering
- Stuttering is a common speech disorder.
- Many children stutter when they are learning to speak, but this should stop by the later preschool years.
- Kids who stutter can suffer from low self-esteem.
A qualified speech therapist can help you treat your child’s stuttering.
Find more relevant articles and information about dyspraxia
- Learn more about childhood speech and language development
- Read more about toddlers and pronunciation development
- Read more about toddler socialisation
This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot New Zealand.
Last revised: Tuesday, 2 February 2010
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.