5 Myths About Stuttering in Children
Stuttering in children can be very scary, especially if they are your children, but stuttering in children can also be very common. Check out these myths to help you understand a little more about stuttering.
Myth #1: If my child stutters, it is definitely a problem.
Stuttering in children is a normal phase that many will experience when they are learning to speak. Many preschoolers will go through a phase of stuttering, especially when a variety of language skills are beginning to emerge. These phases seem to be a result of the children having so much to say that their brains and mouths can’t quite keep up. This type of stuttering is nothing to worry about and shouldn’t be addressed in therapy. However, there are signs that we can look for to tell us if a child’s stuttering is not typical and warrant therapy.
Stuttering in Children Warning Signs to Look Out For:
- Child is still stuttering past the age of 4-5 years
- Child stutters consistently for more than 6 months
- A family history of significant stuttering
- Child is stuttering single sounds (like “p-p-p-p-please”) instead of whole words or phrases (like “You you you you go over there”). Or, if the child seems to get stuck where he’s trying to push a sound or word out but no sound comes out. He may look like he’s physically struggling, like scrunching up his face.
Myth #2: I should finish my child’s sentences for her when she is stuttering.
Although it can be very painful to watch stuttering in children or see a child struggle through a stutter, it is important that you give that child time to finish her sentence on her own. If you finish the sentence for her or provide her the word she’s trying to say, it will feel like you don’t have time for her to finish on her own, which may increase the amount of pressure she feels to finish the next time and that pressure can make the stuttering worse. Instead, get down at your child’s level, look her in the eye, and wait for her to finish to let her know that she has your attention and time to finish their intended message.
Myth #3: Our lifestyle has no effect on my child’s stuttering.
The speed of a child’s lifestyle can have an effect on a child who stutters. Having a very busy lifestyle with a lot of activities going on can actually make stuttering worse for a child who is prone to it. Increased time constraints and time pressures can make a child feel stressed and children who stutter are often sensitive to this.
Myth #4: I should make sure not to stutter around my child.
Although it seems contradictory, it can actually be very helpful for a child who stutters to hear a familiar adult stutter as well. Many children get very stressed out about their stuttering and feel like it’s a bad thing. If they hear a familiar adult stutter and that adult doesn’t become upset (but rather normalizes it for them), then they may feel more comfortable with their own stuttering. This strategy is also helpful for children who are not yet aware of their own stuttering, you can point it out in your own speech and begin to raise their awareness about the stuttering without pointing out that they are stuttering.
Myth #5: I caused my child’s stuttering.
Stuttering in children is not something that parents can cause. Certain children are more likely to stutter based on pre-set factors such as genetics and brain function. Certain external factors, such as a busy lifestyle or negative reactions to their stuttering can make the stuttering worse if they are already prone to it, but they are not the cause of the stuttering.
– Mara H.