Stuttering Among School-Aged Child: What Parents Need to Know

Stuttering Among School Aged Children

Stuttering, or disfluency, is most simply defined as a disruption in regular speaking patterns. Stuttering can be characterized by the repetition of certain sounds, difficulty getting out words, or prolonged sounds. 

Many children will experience some level of disfluency from the ages of about two and a half to five years old. During this period, children are rapidly expanding their vocabularies and learning the complicated rules of proper language. It makes perfect sense that many children go through phases of stuttering to one degree or another during this time. 

Once children get to be school aged, though, stuttering tends to drop off significantly. At this point, children who continue to stutter or who develop a stutter can become more aware of their disfluency, and it can cause embarrassment and frustration. Even when children don’t have any other sort of developmental issues, a persistent stutter can cause a lot of academic and social difficulties for your child.  

When your school-aged child develops a stutter, or when a stutter that started in her preschool years doesn’t go away on its own or gets worse, it’s time to talk to a speech language pathologist (SLP). A Chicago SLP can help you identify factors that might be contributing to your child’s stutter and work with you and your child to help improve her fluency over time.  

Sometimes stuttering is connected to other developmental difficulties, but it can also appear on its own. Stuttering is four times more likely to occur in boys than girls, and it also tends to have a genetic component – about 60% of children who stutter have a close family member who also stuttered in their youth. 

Here are a few simple ways that you can help your child face their disfluency: 

  • Look for ways to build confidence. Give your child praise that is specific whenever they accomplish something to help them see the variety and value of their many unique skills and personality traits, not just their speaking ability. 
  • Practice active listening. Whenever possible, be patient with your child and listen to what they have to say without any sort of judgement or pressure. When you speak to them, try to speak in a slow, relaxed manner to help show them that there is no need to rush. 
  • Avoid being critical of their speech. Even well-intentioned advice like “take your time” or “try again” can be frustrating and embarrassing for children with disfluency to hear over and over again.
  • Instead, be patient, be kind, and be generous with your time and attention. 

For more information or to sign up for a free consultation with an SLP in Chicago, give our office a call.