Some children may repeat sounds when they are learning to talk between 18 months and 5 years, and this can be normal. Sometimes this is called DYSFLUENCY. This happens because the mind is able to think up words faster than the tongue can say them. For instance, your child may pause between words, say “uh”, “um”, or repeat syllables twice (for instance, li−li−like). STUTTERING develops when a child repeats sounds more than twice and gets nervous with his or her speech. The child may be pressured by others or him− or herself to improve speech. This can make him or her even more nervous and make the speech problem even worse. Stuttering can also tend to run in families. If your child stutters, your doctor may refer him or her to a speech pathologist or speech therapist, a person specially trained in helping children to speak clearly or help stuttering.

Helping Your Child with Speech

  • Encourage conversation. Sit down and talk with your child as often as possible.Talk about fun and happy things. Try not to get your child to recite things. Make speaking fun. Let the child choose what he or she wants to talk about. This can be a good confidence builder for your child.
  • Don’t correct your child’s speech. Don’t say things like “stop that stuttering”, or “think before you speak”. This is your child’s normal speech for his or her age and is not controllable. You may be tempted to finish his or her sentences or fill in words. Try not to do this.
  • Don’t ask your child to repeat or start over. If possible, guess at what he or she is trying to say. Listen very closely when your child is speaking.
  • Give your child plenty of time. Take time in listening to your child and don’t hurry him or her along. Speak slower to him or her as well and relax. Your own relaxed speech will be more effective than you saying “slow down” or “try it again slowly”.
  • Don’t label your child a stutterer. Don’t talk about your child’s speech problem with him or her in front of others.
  • Ask your other caregivers not to correct your child’s speech. 
  • Keep good eye contact and try not to look embarrassed. Just wait patiently until the person is finished.