Health Resources

Stuttering (Children)

What Is Stuttering

Stuttering, or stammering, is a speech disorder affecting the rhythm and flow of speech. Children with this condition know what they want to say but difficulty articulating it at the moment. Characteristics of stuttering include:

  • Repetitions of sounds or words
    (e.g. "C-c-c-car" or "I-I-I-I-I-I want to go now!")
  • Prolongation of sounds
    (e.g. "ggggggive me!")
  • Pauses with no sound
    (e.g. "Wha--------t do you think?")

Sometimes, stuttering is accompanied by physical tension or signs of struggle, causing the child to appear anxious. Stuttering typically emerges between ages two to five, a period marked by rapid vocabulary development and the formation of complete sentences. Some degree of stuttering at this stage can be normal.

Causes Of Stuttering

There is no single cause for stuttering. Potential factors include:

  • Family history
    Stuttering often runs in the family, possibly due to genetic factors.
  • Speech motor control difficulties
    Research indicates that issues with timing, sensory and motor coordination can contribute to stuttering.
  • Other illnesses
    Conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury or other brain disorders can also cause stuttering.

Stuttering is not caused by nervousness, mimicking others, poor parenting or intellectual disabilities.

Signs And Symptoms Of Stuttering

Factors suggesting a higher risk of persistent stuttering include:

  • A family history of stuttering 
  • Onset of stuttering at age two or later
  • Stuttering that persists for six to 12 months or more
  • Gender (boys are more likely to stutter)
  • Difficulties in speech and language
When Should You Seek Help

While stuttering may fluctuate over weeks or months, most children who begin stuttering before the age five stop without intervention. Consult a developmental paediatrician if your child's stuttering:

  • Lasts more than six months
  • Accompanies other speech or language problems
  • Involves muscle tightening or visible speaking struggles
  • Impacts effectively communication in school or social settings
  • Leads to emotional issues such as fear or avoidance of speaking
Tips For Taking Care Of Children With Stuttering

To support smoother speech:

  • Make speaking a fun and enjoyable activity
  • Refrain from comments like “slow down,” “take your time,” “think before speaking,” or “take a deep breath.” These comments, while well-intentioned, may make your child feel more self-conscious.
  • Model a slow, clear speech rate
  • Maintain eye contact and show genuine interest in what your child is saying.
  • Let your child speak for themselves, completing their thoughts and sentences.
  • Treat your child who stutters the same way as if they did not stutter.
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