Parents may find their child unable to speak out clearly, due to some syllables and word sounds which are harder to pronounce. They might repeat the word many times or speak in a way that prolongs word sounds or syllables. This kind of speech pattern is known as stuttering and is considered one kind of dysfluency, which interrupts the flow of speech. Children may stutter in between the ages of two and five. In order to understand stuttering, one needs to know what the root cause is.
One of the factors that contribute to stuttering in toddlers is the genetic makeup of a child. It has been said that about 60% of those who stutter belong to a family whose members used to stutter. Another contributing factor is due to the development of a child.
A child may stutter due to some developmental delays which then affect his or her language and speech. Biological circumstances are also a contributing factor because people’s brains differ in the processing of language.
However, in most cases, the frequency of stuttering starts to decrease as the child begins with his school years. When children enter elementary grades, they begin to sharpen their communication skills.
Here are some characteristics of stuttering in toddlers:
– Often occurrences of sound and syllable repetition
– Increase in the prolongation of words
– Excessive repetitions of words and phrases
– Loudness and rising pitch caused by vocal tension
– The changing of a word in order to avoid stuttering
– Facial and body movements along with stuttering
– Speech is difficult or strained
– Tightness in speech muscles
Parents whose children show the above-mentioned signs of speech disorder may feel disappointed and sad but not all is lost. Here are some ways which parents can help:
- Initiate conversations. Make mealtimes a chance for everyone to share their thoughts and feelings. Communication is easier when a person can speak out according to experience and share it with people he or she loves.
- Be sensitive with your comments as they can either lift your child up, or bring them down. You may want to avoid saying “Take a deep breath” or “Slow Down” as these are some comments that may not be so encouraging someone who stutters.
- Maintain eye contact. This simple but powerful gesture will let your child know that you are interested in listening to what he has to say, despite his stuttering.
- Talk slowly. In this case, the child should have enough room to organize his thoughts and be able to manage talking and thinking appropriately.
- Allow the child to finish his sentences. Exercise patience and understanding. Your child is trying hard to tell you how he or she feels. Don’t end the conversation just because you can’t wait for him to sound out his words clearly and properly.
If the child continues to stutter at the age of five and exhibit any of the following, you may want to consider the aid of a speech therapist.