How Do You Know if Your Child is Stuttering?

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Understanding Stuttering: Observable Signs and  Struggles

You may see or hear the following characteristics:
  • Repetitions: repeating sounds (“Let’s go to s-s-speech”)
  • Prolongations: making sounds longer (“Let’s go to ssspeech”)
  • Silent Blocks: tense pause before a sound gets out (“Let’s go to –speech”)
  • Facial and Body Mannerisms: moving body parts when trying to speak (eye blinking, head nodding, leg shaking, and many others)
There are also characteristics you may not see or hear, like struggling with negative thoughts and feelings about themselves and their talking. They may experience physical tension and low self-esteem. Additionally, they may feel frustration, shame, embarrassment, and social anxiety. There might be attempts to avoid ordinary speaking situations, such as raising hand in class, reading out loud, playing with peers, making phone calls, and ordering food.

What can you do if your child stutters?

When a child is learning and developing language at a rapid pace, you may notice some stuttering, especially repetitions in their speech. This is typically normal. However, if their stutter persists for six months or more, seek a speech-language pathologist (who has experience helping children with their stutter) as early as possible. Early intervention is key in reducing stuttering and the impact it has on your child’s everyday life.

If your child is stuttering, how you interact and communicate with them is an important factor in minimizing the severity of the stutter.

Here are five tips on communicating with your child who stutters:



Be patient. Children who stutter may need extra time to get their message across. 

Don’t interrupt, fill in words you think they’ll say, or finish their sentence. 

Focus on what your child is saying.

Don’t focus on how your child is saying their message.

Actively listen and give reassurance like “take as long as you need” if appropriate. 

Don’t give advice on how to speak, like “slow down,” “take a breath,” or “just get it out.”

If you don’t understand their message, simply respond “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand what you said. Can you say it again?”

Don’t pretend you understand or guess what they said if it was unclear to you. 

Ask questions about their stutter if they’re willing to share. 

Talking about stuttering should not be  taboo, however, children may feel sensitive about it. Please use common courtesy. 

By: May Ding, MA, CCC-SLP

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