You may notice your preschool child experiencing "bumps" or interruptions in his talking. They may be characterized by hesitations or repetitions of sounds, words, or phrases. These are called disfluencies, which begin in most children by age four and may be part of normal development or a disorder called stuttering. Thankfully, a speech-language pathologist is an expert in making this distinction and can provide guidance based on your child's individual risk factors.
Where to Begin at Home
In addition to patiently listening when your child has difficulty getting out words, parents and caregivers can follow these tips to support their child who stutters at home:
- Slow down. Practice a more relaxed communication style by slightly reducing the pace of your speech without sounding abnormal.
- Pause. Take pauses naturally within and between sentences. Try pausing for one to two seconds before responding to a question or comment. This promotes and models respectful conversational turn taking, while reducing accidental interruptions.
- Reduce questions. Asking questions is a way to show loving curiosity and allows your child to demonstrate knowledge, but avoid asking them repetitively or in a demanding manner. Instead, try showing interest by making positive comments about what your little one is doing or saying.
- Take time to listen. Show your child that you value what he or she says by creating daily opportunities to fully listen to him for 10-20 minutes without giving suggestions, corrections, or instructions. Provide one-on-one, undivided attention to him in a calm setting free of distraction.
Recovery from Stuttering
There’s hope! Most children’s stuttering completely resolves within six months to a year from onset and often without intervention. However, if your family history is positive for stuttering or your child’s disfluent speech concerns you or persists beyond three months, speak with a speech-language pathologist to determine if evaluation and treatment would benefit your child.
- Johanna Sims, M.S., CCC-SLP
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (n.d.). Fluency Disorders (Practice Portal). Retrieved February, 20, 2023, from www.asha.org/practice-portal/clinical-topics/fluency-disorders/.
Conture E. G. and Guita, B. If You Think Your Child Is Stuttering. The Stuttering Foundation.
Guitar, B. (2014). Stuttering: An Integrated Approach to its Nature and Treatment. Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Yaruss, J. S. (2016). Preschool Stuttering Therapy: A Practical Approach