Stuttering in Children: A Brief Guide for Parents

At the age of three to four, children begin stuttering as they develop their speech and language skills. That is just normal during the speech development stage, which causes toddlers to constantly repeat, hesitate, and mispronounce words, sounds, and syllables. This temporary stage is called normal disfluency or pseudo-stuttering that occurs as children learn how to speak properly. Parents have no reason to worry because kids will eventually outgrow this stage after several months.

Causes

Until now, the exact cause of speech disfluency in children is still the subject of numerous studies. However, there are factors that may possibly trigger speech disorders in children such as genetics and the malfunction of the mechanisms responsible for speech production in the brain, nerves, and muscles.

Symptoms

Stammering in children becomes a cause for alarm when they fail to show signs of improvement after six months since the onset of stammering. The following are the symptoms every parent should watch out:

• Frequent repetition of a certain syllable (e.g. “Mom, I want some cho-cho-cho chocolates.”)

• Tendency to pronounce particular sounds in a lengthy way (e.g. “Ccccccan I wwwwatch TV?”)

• Substitution of vowels when repeating certain syllables. (e.g. “I will wuh-wuh-wuhsh my feet.”)

• Change of tone and pitch when the child gets stuck with a word

• Avoidance of speaking for fear of getting embarrassed

How to Help Children Overcome their Condition
As a parent, you have to make life a bit easier for your child and lessen the struggles he or she has to endure while going through the speech disfluency stage. The following are useful tips to help your child cope with the speech problem:

• Refrain from asking your child too many questions. Toddlers will find it easier to speak more clearly when they are allowed to express themselves instead of answering questions often.

• Do not react negatively or scold your child whenever he or she stutters. Making your child feel that you dislike stammering will only make him or her more self conscious. Just listen and show a neutral reaction or simply smile. Also, avoid the urge to complete or correct the sentence for your child. Let him or her express the message without any interruption.

• After your child has completed the sentence, say it again in a slow manner to let him or her know that you understood the message.

• Speak to your child in a moderate pace. This will train your child to speak calmly instead of hurrying to say things. In addition, pay attention to what your child has to say. If you look like you’re in a hurry, your child will tend to speak faster to keep up with you.

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