It isn’t out of the ordinary for a young child to have issues with stuttering. In fact, quite a few children under the age of 5 will have such issues with their speech. This time in their life is crucial to both speech and personal development, so having issues with speaking might make them more self-conscious about communicating. It is important to consult a speech-language pathologist for an assessment and do all that you can to help them. Here are 4 ways to help your child feel better about their stutter.

Get a professional opinion

Speech is one of the most complex human skills so it is not uncommon for children of preschool age to have dysfluency (interruptions in speech). Getting a professional opinion from a speech-language pathologist can help you determine if what your child has is either temporary or longer-lasting. This should be one of the first things that you do. A speech-language pathologist can tell you if treatment is warranted and recommend more specific techniques or strategies after meeting with your child face to face.

Avoid interrupting or offering suggestions

Having a communication issue like a stutter can be very frustrating for anyone, especially someone so young. Interrupting or offering suggestions to your child is usually not helpful. Give your child plenty of time to answer questions, and don’t finish their sentences as this might increase their struggle. Refrain from telling your child to “slow down”, “relax” or “think before you try to speak” as this advice can be discouraging and keep him or her from wanting to communicate.

Most people who stutter have “good” and “bad” days. If you see that your child is having a day when his or her speech appears easier, get involved in enjoyable “communication activities” that promote positive feelings about communication. In order to help your child communicate more and encourage them to speak, it is vital that you respect their pace, especially when around other people. Enjoy what your child has to say and try and put less focus on how he or she says things.

Avoid treating them differently

Children may notice that they are being treated differently. React and respond naturally to things that they do or say. This means maintaining normal body language, maintaining eye contact, and responding in a normal way of communicating. Laugh when they say something funny or take an interest when they tell you about something fun that they did. Don’t change your manner of speaking other than to pause more frequently to give them time to respond.

Having dysfluency issues is difficult for the child and their family. That being said, there are techniques and methods that a speech-language pathologist can work on to help your child with his or her difficulties. Working collaboratively with parents can be successful and very helpful. Here are 4 ways to help your child feel better with their stutter. When it comes to helping young children with speech disorders, it is important to get a professional opinion as early as possible upon noticing the signs.