It is normal for young children to have difficulties in using language. These difficulties range from lisping to strange grammatical constructions. However in some instances a child suffers from stuttering.
The causes of stuttering are unknown.
To distinguish between normal disfluency and stuttering, it is essential to study the child’s speech pattern over time.
What to look for: –
- Hesitation between syllables and words.
- Repetition of sounds or syllables at least three times.
- Blockage of sounds when the child is unable to speak or there is a pause between sounds.
- Accompanied physical tension and struggling while speaking such as blinking, shifting the eyes to one side, tensing of the mouth etc.
- Excessive or pronounced breathing or other indications of anxiety while speaking.
Stuttering tends to run in families and occurs more often in boys than girls. Stuttering does not result from emotional trauma anxiety or abnormal child rearing practices. It is not related to intelligence.
What to do:-
- Ask for help from your pediatrician in finding a speech therapist.
- Provide family support. Don’t let friends or relatives make fun of the child. Don’t let thoughts of what your in-laws will feel or your friends think prevent you from telling them firmly and politely to not tease the child. If necessary keep the child away from those who laugh at him.
Remember your primary responsibility is to the child who is dependent upon you for physical and emotional survival.
- Let the child speak. Don’t interrupt or finish words for him and don’t let others rush him either.
- Use a relatively slow, relaxed style while talking but don’t be so slow as to become unnatural.
- Listen to what the child is saying rather than how she is saying it. Respond to the content and not the stuttering.
- Give appropriate encouragement while she speaks such as nodding your head. Keep eye contact when the child while talking.
- Don’t tell the child to slow down.
- Don’t frequently correct, criticize or try to change the ways he talks or pronounces words.
- For special occasions help him by encouraging him to write out and practice what he wants to say.
- Do not make concessions or excuse bad behaviour because the child stutters.
Sometimes it may not be your child that stutters, but a friend or relative of his. It is as important to teach your child compassion and empathy. Teach him the same rules for dealing with those who stutter. Make your disapproval clear of films or TV shows which ridicule those who stutter.
Stuttering is something some people do, not who they are.