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Stuttering in Children: 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 is thought to be caused when the brain has trouble sending and receiving messages for speech. It often gets worse at stressful times, such as when a child speaks in public. It often does not happen when the child 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 education for parents. Speech therapy can help your child learn speech and language skills. It can also help your child feel better about the way they speak. The more you know about speech development, the better you can help your 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 when your child speaks. Try not to criticize, interrupt, or ask too many questions. Give your child the time and attention needed to express thoughts and ideas.
  • Try not to correct your child.
  • Use positive expressions and body language when you listen to your child. When your child stutters, show that you are focused on the message and not on how they talk.
  • 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 them no matter what. This is one of the best things you can do to help your 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 or nurse advice line if:

  • You are worried about your child's behaviour.
  • Your child is not making progress 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.