As a speech therapist, I have had many conversations with parents about typical nonfluency in children. At one point or another, most children stumble over their words. According to the Colorado Center for Stuttering Therapy, most children between the ages of 2 1/2 to 7 will experience some degree of stuttering at one point or another. However, as a parent, it can be concerning to watch your child struggle to share his or her message.
These episodes tend to accompany a developmental language burst. As a child learns new vocabulary and concepts, their motor ability may not be able to keep up. The child is more focused on what they are saying then how they are saying it. They may stutter as they as trying to think of a word or phrase. The child will be at ease and seem unaware of the disfluency.
If your child is experiencing an episode of normal nonfluency, here are some things to consider.
- Focus on the content of your child’s message.
- Respond to the content of the message rather than drawing attention to the disfluency.
- Model a slow rate of speech when speaking to your child.
- Give your child adequate time to respond.
- Avoid telling your child to “slow down” or “just think about what you are saying”.
- Avoid putting your child on the spot (i.e., Tell everybody what you did today. Sing your ABCs).
There are some warning signs to watch for if your child begins to stutter. According to the American Speech Language and Hearing Association, the following may be risk factors that could be linked to persistent stuttering:
- Stuttering that persists over 6 months
- Family history of persistent stuttering
- The presence of other speech/language disorders
- Fears or concerns about stuttering from the family or child
- Tension or struggle when the child is speaking
If you have concerns over your child’s fluency, never hesitate to contact a speech pathologist. An evaluation or screener can be conducted to determine the extent of the child’s disfluency.
American Speech Language and Hearing Association. (2014, January 16). Stuttering. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/stuttering.htm.
Colorado Center for Stuttering Therapy. (2014, Janurary 16). Childhood Stuttering. Retrieved from http://www.coloradostutteringtherapy.com/childhood/index.htm.