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Stuttering in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Stuttering is a speech problem in which a child may repeat, draw out, not complete, or skip words or sounds without meaning to.

The cause of stuttering is not known, but it happens when the brain is not able to send and receive messages in a normal way. Stuttering often gets worse at stressful times, such as during public speaking. It often does not happen when a person sings, whispers, talks while alone or to pets, or reads aloud with a group.

Sometimes stuttering gets better on its own. But some types of stuttering probably will not get better without treatment. Treatment can be helpful whether stuttering is expected to be temporary or not.

Treatment often includes speech therapy for the child and counselling for parents. Speech therapy may help your child learn speech and language skills and feel better about his or her ability to speak. Counselling teaches parents about speech development and how to help their child at home.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Speak calmly and slowly, and pause often when you talk to your child. Use short, simple sentences.
  • Have quiet time alone with your child each day. Let your child direct the activities, including conversation. Showing that you enjoy this time together can help build your child's confidence.
  • Be polite and courteous when your child speaks. Try not to criticize, interrupt, or ask too many questions. Give your child the time and attention he or she needs to express thoughts and ideas.
  • Try not to correct your child.
  • Use positive facial expressions and body language when you listen to your child. When your child stutters, show that you are attentive and focused on the message rather than on how he or she talks.
  • Help all family members learn good communication skills. Encourage everyone to listen closely when talking with your child who stutters.
  • Let your child know that you accept him or her no matter what. Support and unconditional love are the most important factors in helping a child overcome stuttering.
  • Consider keeping a record of how your child's speech patterns improve or change. Your doctor or speech therapist can guide you on what to look for and how to keep track of your child's progress.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have any concerns about your child's speech.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.