When a child has difficulty speaking and tends to repeat syllables, sounds or words, or hesitates to speak, she may be suspected to suffer from a stutter. Even a suspicion of their child stuttering can cause many parents lose their sleep, but it is not such a serious problem. In fact, in most children, stuttering is a part of the learning process of putting words together to form sentences. This article tries to shed some light on stuttering in toddlers.
Is stuttering normal? When should I approach a doctor?
Yes, stuttering is normal among toddlers aged 2–3; but, most of the toddlers will outgrow the problem without any help from others. If your toddler continues to stutter for more than three months and it affects the quality of communication, then it is time for you to seek medical help.
How common is stuttering in toddlers?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 1 in 20 children stutter at some point, mostly between ages 2 and 3. Boys are more likely to stutter than girls.
Why do toddlers stutter?
Stuttering can occur because of many reasons. Children usually stutter when they have trouble learning the normal timing and rhythm of speech or think faster than they speak. In such cases, children tend to repeat the words for continuity. Stuttering increases when the child falls ill or becomes anxious or excited.
How can parents deal with it?
- Do not make it a big issue. For, if you do so, it will increase the frustration and anxiety of your child and aggravate the problem.
- Listen patiently to what he says. Do not correct his stutter.
- Do not interrupt when she speaks. Wait till she completes the sentence, listening to her with interest. If her stutter gets in the way of completing a sentence, finish the sentence for her.
- Talk to him at a slow pace, so that he will also try to imitate you and slow down. This will reduce his anxiety.
- Build her confidence and self-esteem by praising her for all the activities she does well. Be specific and genuine with the praise.
- Do not show any signs that you are annoyed, frustrated or upset about his stuttering. Do not embarrass him by stating, ‘Why are you stuttering?’ , ‘Didn’t I ask you to talk slowly?’ or ‘Say it again clearly’. Do remember to never tell such things to him in front of others.
Talk to your paediatrician if your toddler tends to be very self-conscious, tensed, and frequently repeats sounds or parts of words. When the stuttering is persistent and starts to become severe, speech therapy may be needed to correct the problem.