It’s an exciting time when your little one finally starts to speak and you can begin to communicate with them! Everything they say is cute and entertaining, even if they might have a little stutter. Children usually outgrow stuttering, but what happens if they don’t?
What is a stutter?
A stutter lies under the speech problem umbrella. When kids repeat words, prolong them, or stop making sounds for specific sounds or syllables, it is likely they are stuttering. It is a form of dysfluency, where speech is interrupted. There’s no need to worry too much at this stage, your little one will typically outgrow it by age five. If it doesn’t, there are plenty of ways to fix it.
How can you tell when your kid is stuttering?
Around 18-24 months your little one might start showing signs of this speech problem. As you already can tell, with all the new vocabulary your kid is bursting with new words to say to you. Patience is key at this time in order to avoid making them more nervous and hesitant to speak. After a few weeks or months, the stutter normally goes away as your child gains more practice and confidence. Another sign that they might be struggling is when they start showing strained facial and body tension while stuttering.
What is the cause of stuttering?
We aren’t exactly sure what causes stuttering, however, experts believe it to be something to do with a missing connection between the brain’s messages and the muscles used for speech. Many doctors also believe that genetics are a fair indicator. If someone in your family had a stutter when they were younger it is more likely that your child will too. Children who start stuttering before 3.5-years are much more likely to outgrow it. However, if they continue to stutter for over six months, that could be a sign of an ongoing problem. Knowing this, the ways to help and treat it are plentiful!
How to treat stuttering
If you feel concerned about your child’s speech after a prolonged amount of time or your child starts avoiding speaking altogether or showing signs of strain, it is always best to speak with your doctor about it. There are things you can do at home to try and begin helping your child:
- Always be as patient as possible even though it might become frustrating.
- Don’t ask them to speak precisely as it might make them increasingly nervous. Instead, allow them to work through it and always encourage them to continue speaking.
- Make an effort to avoid saying things like, “slow down” or “I can’t understand you when you talk like that” as it will only increase self-consciousness.
- When you talk to your child, try to speak slowly and plainly with them, while allowing them to do the same. With this help, your little one will get more comfortable speaking and you may find they simply grow out of it.
If none of this works, your doctor may recommend you see a speech therapist who specialises in children. Speech therapy might be the best course of action to help your baby gain their confidence and improve their speech and communication skills.