Skip to main navigation Skip to main content
Please enter a search term

Share

Developing a stutter

My little girl is developing a stutter. She is three years old and has started hesitating between words and repeating sounds. I’ve seen the doctor and we are working on techniques to help her. Should I be worried about how this might psychologically affect her?

It is difficult to say how a child might be impacted upon by their stutter however, give your daughter's age, I would highly recommend pursuing a referral to a speech pathologist.

Speech pathologists are trained in many different communication therapy approaches and the Lidcombe Program is a highly successful, well researched early intervention for children who stutter. It is thought to be the most effective for children under the age of 6 years. Some of the tips below might be useful to consider in everyday interactions with your daughter: 

Don’t draw attention to the stutter. We want to encourage your child to talk as much as possible as this is an important part of their development. Therefore, drawing attention to their errors could potentially lower self-esteem and decrease their desire to talk. Instead, reinforce that you are listening and ready, e.g. “****(child’s name), it seems like you have lots of important things to tell me! I am really interested and will be here until you have finished telling me what you want me to know.” In this mini dialogue you have acknowledged that the child is important and that you want to hear what they have to say without explicitly highlighting their stutter. Do not ask your child to stop or slow downs as this can negatively highlight what is happening.

Increase situations in which your child is most fluent. Often, children who stutter can become nervous because they have so many things to say but it’s not coming out how they might expect. This is not the cause, but can become a secondary problem. Therefore, increasing situations in which the child is most fluent is a positive way to increase their talking and therefore self-esteem and learning. This might be during a particularly book or activity. Or, if you are asking questions, let the child know you will ask them a question soon, i.e. “***(child’s name) I am going to ask you a question after Billy has finished talking” – this prepares the child and avoids putting them on the spot.

Model fluent speech. Modelling what the child has said, in a fluent way, not only shows the child you have heard and understood what they have said, but also provides a fluent model of what they have said. This occurs, once again, without explicitly highlighting their stutter. For example; Child:“M-m-m-m-m-y name is Sam” Adult: “Your name is Sam.” Modelling is one of the most powerful tools we can use when teaching children about speech and language.

Provide opportunities for your child to speak without competition and distraction from other children or family members. This allows time for them to finish their sentences and reduces the likelihood of frustration. 

Tiffany Noble

Tiffany Noble

Senior Speech Pathologist, Goodstart Early Learning

See more

Other questions about this topic

When to start reading to children

When should you start reading to your child and for how long? My baby was born 6 weeks ago and I’ve started reading to him but my family thinks it’s crazy.

Fear of the dark

My four year old is scared of the dark and needs us to stay with him while he goes to sleep and then comes into our room (and bed) when he wakes at night. It is legitimate fear and need for comfort but on the down side noone is getting any sleep! What should we do?

Dealing with swear words

My 2.5 year old has recently started swearing. The blame lies with me BUT I have since reduced how much I swear a great deal. What’s the easiest way to deal with this and let him know it isn’t okay?

4-yr-old afraid to be alone

My lil 4yr old is suddenly scared to go anywhere like his room, the toilet, the bathroom, without someone coming with him. We go every time as we think its just a phase and he will grow out of it. He isn't scared of monsters. He did say there were 7 scary men in his room making faces but that's not the case at all (wondering if it was a dream) we reassure him there isn't any scary things there, take him and tell him he is safe and we will protect him. Any advice?

Encouraging 4-yr-old to draw and write

My just turned 4 yr old boy doesn’t like to draw or write. He tells me he "doesn't know how" and won't even attempt it. He has easy access to thick crayons/felt pens and paper at home, but when we sit down to do drawing or colouring, he would prefer to make things with craft supplies (gluing, cutting, etc) or do painting. Our GP said he should be drawing figures with 3 distinct parts and writing his own name by now. Any tips on how to encourage him to take up or even attempt some drawing/writing

Get Advice

Ask a question