Fluency is a skill which gradually develops. Many children are hesitant in their speech as they learn new words, how to pronounce them and how to string words into sentences.
When a child learns to walk, they may wobble, stumble and fall, especially in the early stages. Stumbling over sounds and words is a natural part of the process of learning to talk. Learning to talk smoothly can take time and lots of practice. It is normal for most children to go through a period of dysfluency where they repeat sounds, words or phrases, pause, stumble over words and hesitate with “er”s and “um”s. This usually happens because they need thinking time to express what they want to say. Difficulties with speaking fluently between 2—4 years affects about 1 child in 20. Most children outgrow this phase over a few weeks or months
It can be a shock when your child starts to stammer "out of the blue". Sometimes your child may get quite stuck. This can be painful to see, and you may feel helpless and worried. Some periods may seem more difficult than others and it may come and go. There is no clear cause of stammering but we do know parents do NOT cause stammering. Many children will outgrow their stammer however, we would always recommend a referral to a Speech and Language Therapist if you are concerned about your child's fluency.
What is Stammering?
Stammering can be a variety of things such as:
- Difficulty starting their word or sentence to get started
- Stopping their sentences half way through
- Putting extra effort into saying words
- Tense or ‘jerky’ speech
- Repetition of speech. This can be in:
Single sounds—”I want a dddddrink
Whole words—”I want want want a drink”
Not all children will need regular 1:1 therapy for stammering. Further assessment and practical advice to parents may be enough to help.
Helpful Hints for Parents
·Look at your child and listen closely to what they say. What your child says is more important than how they say it.
·Look for situations that increase or decrease the stammer. Does it vary according to new situations, tiredness, excitement etc.
·Provide opportunities for your child to talk to you without distractions or competition from other family members. Maybe, set aside a few minutes each day when you can give your full attention to your child in a calm, relaxed atmosphere.
Let your child finish what they are saying and don’t finish their sentence for them
You could also:
Follow your child’s lead
Get face to face.
Comment on what your child is doing and keep your sentences short and simple.
Limit the number of questions you ask your child, as this can put pressure on them to respond.
Speak slowly and don’t tell them to slow down.
Pause frequently as this allows your child to take a turn.
During this time praise your child on things they are good at doing (e.g. “Ben you’re really good at building
If you are concerned about your child's speech and fluency please do not hesitate to contact us.