Language development: Stuttering – is it abnormal?
Don’t mistake normal language development for stuttering.
During the long process of language development, parents may notice some speech patterns that are often looked at as red flags. Stuttering is one of them and is often confused with the normal nonfluency of language. During the early years of language development there are times when children find it difficult to talk. S/he may repeat sounds, words or even phrases. Often times this will occur when a child is stressed, anxious, excited, frustrated or possibly ill. This is a normal part of growing and developing. Parents and other adults should avoid telling children to “stop and start over,” “slow down” or any other statement that may bring attention to the way the child is speaking. Below you will see some ways to help children through this process:
- Set aside a few minutes of “quiet time” to give your child a less stressful opportunity to communicate and have your full attention.
- Allow your child to get plenty of rest and to eat a well-balanced diet
- Avoid comparing your child to other children.
- Make sure your expectations are reasonable for your child’s age and ability.
- Allow your child to talk without interrupting and without making suggestions as to how s/he should speak.
- Find plenty of opportunities to make talking and conversation a pleasant experience (i.e. playing games, stories allowing your child to participate, at the dinner table, etc.).
- Accept your child’s way of talking without showing disapproval, embarrassment or irritation; advise others to do the same.
Remember that easy repetitions and prolongations are normal in the speech of young children and should not be called stuttering.
For more articles on child development, language development, and parenting, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.