Photo Courtesy of imagerymajestic – FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Are you worried about your child’s stuttering? Then you need to read this first! Stuttering in children can be very scary, especially if they are your children. But stuttering in children can also be very common. Check out these myths to help you understand a little more about stuttering.
Stuttering in Children, Myth #1:
If my child stutters, it is definitely a problem.
This one is not necessarily true! Stuttering in children is a normal phase that many will go through when they are learning to speak. Many preschoolers will go through a phase of stuttering, especially when they are having a great burst of language skills begin to emerge. These phases seem to be a result of the children having so much to say that their brains and mouths can’t quite keep up. This type of stuttering is nothing to worry about and shouldn’t be addressed in therapy. However, there are signs that we can look for to tell us if a child’s stuttering is not normal. Children with these warning sounds should be checked by a speech-language pathologist.
Stuttering in Children Warning Signs to Look Out For:
- Child is still stuttering past the age of 4-5 years
- Child stutters consistently for more than 6 months
- A family history of significant stuttering
- Child is stuttering single sounds (like “p-p-p-p-please”) instead of whole words or phrases (like “You you you you go over there”). Or, if the child seems to get stuck where he’s trying to push a sound or word out but no sound comes out. He may look like he’s physically struggling, like scrunching up his face.
Stuttering in Children Myth #2:
I should finish my child’s sentences for her when she is stuttering.
Please don’t do this! Although it can be very painful to watch stuttering in children or see a child struggle through a stutter, it is important that you give that child time to finish her sentence on her own. If you finish the sentence for her or provide her the word she’s trying to say, it will feel like you don’t have time for her to finish on her own. When the child feels this way, it will increase the amount of pressure she feels to finish the next time and that pressure can make the stuttering worse. Instead, get down at your child’s level, look her in the eye, and wait for her to finish. This lets her know that she has your devoted attention and she has all the time in the world to finish.
Stuttering in Children, Myth #3:
Our lifestyle has no effect on my child’s stuttering.
The speed of a child’s lifestyle can have a great effect on a child who stutters. Having a very busy lifestyle with a lot of activities going on can actually make stuttering worse for a child who is prone to it. Increased time constraints and time pressures (like running around from one event to the other) can make a child feel stressed and children who stutter are particularly sensitive to this. If your child is stuttering, it may be important to slow your lifestyle down a bit to see if this helps.
Stuttering in Children, Myth #4:
I should make sure not to stutter around my child.
Although it seems contradictory, it can actually be very helpful for a child who stutters to hear a familiar adult stutter as well. Many children get very stressed out about their stuttering and feel like it’s a bad thing. If they hear a familiar adult stutter and that adult doesn’t become upset (but rather normalizes it for them), then they may feel more comfortable with their own stuttering. This helps because the more stressed a child is about his stuttering, the worse it will get. This strategy is also helpful for children who are not yet aware of their own stuttering, you can point it out in your own speech and begin to raise their awareness about the stuttering without pointing out that they are stuttering. In order to use this strategy, throw a stutter (similar to how your child stutters) into your own speech and then react calmly to it as if it is no big deal. For example, you could say “I think we-we-we-we-we… Oh, that sounded kind of bumpy. That’s ok! Let me try again. I think we should go to the park!”. Just make sure that you don’t get upset about the stutter (in your speech or your child’s). We don’t want to cause the child more anxiety about stuttering.
Stuttering in Children, Myth #5:
I caused my child’s stuttering.
Stuttering in children is not something that parents can cause. Certain children are more likely to stutter based on pre-set factors such as genetics and brain function. Certain external factors, such as a busy lifestyle or negative reactions to their stuttering can make the stuttering worse if they are already prone to it, but they were not the cause of the stuttering. Thankfully though, there are many things that parents can do to help their children overcome and deal with stuttering.
If you are concerned with your child’s stuttering, please contact your local school district or a speech-language pathologist for more information! Click here to visit my other article about stuttering therapy as well as ways you can help at home.