It is not at all unusual for children to stutter as they begin to develop their language skills. Stuttering is so common during the preschool years that speech therapy is seldom recommended. Most young children who stutter outgrow it by age 7.
What is somewhat surprising is that even though stuttering is quite common, the cause of it is not totally understood. It is known that stuttering is more likely to occur in boys than in girls. It is also known that stuttering and other speech-related problems are somewhat hereditary. While stuttering is not caused by limited intellectual ability, it is common for children who stutter to have difﬁculties with reading and writing.
Stuttering is often made worse by parents and teachers who put pressure on the child, urging him or her not to stutter. Incidents of stuttering also increase when children feel stressed. It is even quite possible for children with very normal speech patterns to begin stuttering if there is an increase in the stress in their lives.
If stuttering continues past the age of 7 or if the stuttering is so severe that it interferes with a child’s ability to communicate with others, an evaluation is in order. Most public school districts have a speech and language therapist on staff who is able to do such an evaluation. The family doctor may also be able to suggest the name of a speech pathologist.
For those children who do have a more severe form of stuttering, there are speciﬁc forms of treatment available that will allow them to have a greater fluency in their speech.
Whatever the cause of the stuttering, some practical approaches are suggested:
- Be patient with the stutterer.
- Do not speak for the child.
- Do not laugh at or imitate the stuttering.
- Decrease family stress.
- Encourage the child to sing and do choral reading. Stuttering tends not to be a factor in these situations.
Finally, assure your child that he or she is loved by God and valued for who he or she is.