Stammering in Children and Toddlers: Causes & Treatment

causes of stammering

Stammering, also known as stuttering, is a speech disorder that affects the flow of speech. This condition often commences in early childhood and typically involves the repetition of words or sounds, prolongations of sounds, or interruptions in speech, also known as blocks. It is more than merely tripping over words in everyday conversation, which is normal for children learning to speak.

In children and toddlers, stammering might be part of their speech and language development process. They may repeat words or syllables, especially when they’re excited or stressed, or they might hesitate or pause more frequently when speaking. This kind of stuttering is called developmental stammering and is the most common form. Most children outgrow developmental stuttering, and it’s not usually a cause for concern.

However, for some children, stuttering can persist beyond the early years, and it may become a long-term condition that continues into adulthood. This persistent form of stuttering can cause emotional challenges, as it might affect a child’s confidence to speak in social settings or at school.

Also Read: 10 Ways to Improve Your Children’s Speech

Causes of Stammering in Children and Toddlers

The causes of stammering in children are not entirely understood, but it’s likely to be the result of a combination of factors.

Genetic Factors: Stammering tends to run in families, which suggests a genetic component.

Neurophysiological Factors: Some research indicates that children who stammer process speech and language slightly differently than those who don’t. This difference may make it harder for them to coordinate the muscles needed for speaking with their thoughts about what they want to say.

Developmental Factors: Developmental stammering occurs when speech and language abilities are still forming. Some children may struggle to coordinate the physical aspects of speech, like controlling their breath while talking, with the cognitive aspects, such as choosing the right words to express their thoughts.

Environmental Factors: Stressful situations, such as moving to a new home, starting school, or the birth of a sibling, can exacerbate stammering in children. Also, fast-paced lifestyles or high parental expectations might contribute to stammering.

It is important to note that stuttering is not caused by anything the parents have done. It is also not a sign of intelligence or emotional problems.

Also Read: What Is Nonverbal Communication?

Symptoms of Stammering in Children and Toddlers

The symptoms of stuttering can vary from person to person, but they often include:

  • Repeated syllables or words: This is the most common symptom of stuttering.
  • Blocks or pauses in speech: The person may be unable to say a word or syllable, or they may have to start over several times.
  • Sound prolongations: The person may stretch out sounds or syllables.
  • Circumlocutions: The person may use different words or phrases to avoid saying a word or syllable that they stutter on.

Stuttering can be a frustrating and isolating experience for both the person who stutters and their family. However, there are effective remedies available that can help people who stutter to improve their speech fluency.

Also Read: Ways to Develop and Improve Public Speaking Skills in Kids

Treatment of Stammering in Children and Toddlers

The goal of stammering treatment in children and toddlers is not to eliminate stuttering but to help the child communicate effectively and confidently. This approach reduces the focus on ‘fluency’ and instead prioritises ‘communication’.

Speech and Language Therapy: This is the most common treatment for stammering in children. A speech and language therapist will work with the child to develop techniques for controlling their stammer. This may involve teaching the child to slow down their speech or to use breathing techniques.

The Lidcombe Program: This is a behavioural treatment for children who stammer. It involves parents or carers providing feedback to the child about their speech in a supportive and positive environment. Research has shown it to be effective, especially for pre-school children.

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy: This is a less direct approach where the therapist works with the parent or carer to identify and change interaction styles that might be contributing to the child’s stammering.

Electronic Devices: Some children may benefit from using an electronic device that changes the way they hear their voice. This can help them regulate their speech.

Psychological Therapies: For older children, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be used to help manage the psychological impact of stammering, such as anxiety or fear of speaking.

Also Read:  7 barriers of communication

Early intervention is beneficial for stammering in children and toddlers. If you notice your child stuttering and it lasts for more than six months or is causing distress, it’s recommended to seek advice from a speech and language therapist.

Tips For Helping A Child Who Stutters

Here are some tips for helping a child who stammers:

  • Be patient and understanding Stuttering is not a sign of intelligence or emotional problems.
  • Talk to your child about stuttering in a positive way Help them to understand that stuttering is a common problem and that there are effective treatments available.
  • Do not interrupt your child when they are speaking. This can make them more anxious and make their stuttering worse.
  • Encourage your child to talk about their feelings. Stuttering can be a frustrating experience, and talking about it can help your child to cope.
  • Seek professional help if your child’s stuttering is severe or causing them distress. A speech-language pathologist can assess your child’s speech and develop a treatment plan.

While parents and caregivers may be concerned when their child stammers, it’s important to keep in mind that many children who stutter in their early years typically outgrow it as their speech and language skills advance. Several efficient treatments are available to youngsters who continue to stammer to help them control their speech and improve their communication skills. The goal is to help the child develop effective and confident communication skills so they can express themselves without inhibition or fear, not to strive for flawless fluency.

Also Read: Interpersonal Skills for Kids: Definitions and Examples

Euroschool is dedicated to assisting all students, including those who stammer, to attain their full potential. The encouraging and welcoming atmosphere at the school gives kids the resources they require to flourish.

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