Stuttering in Children: Parent’s Guide

It can be overwhelming to know what to do when your child begins to stutter. This guide aims to help parents provide effective support and care for children who stutter.

By URLife Team
21 Oct 2023

Stuttering is more common in children than in adults. Stuttering is a fluency disorder that personifies as the repetition of syllables or words, elongated sounds, and speech blocks, disrupting the natural flow and rhythm of speech. There are also children who may not be stuttering at home, but do so when they’re in school or outside. This situation can leave parents feeling helpless, guilty, and anxious, as they struggle with concerns about their child's future, social interactions, and career prospects. 


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According to a 2022 report issued in the Radcliff Labs, around 11 to 12 million people are estimated to stammer in India. It commonly begins in early childhood, with nearly 95 per cent of stuttering cases emerging before the age of 4, as stated in a 2023 study issued in Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health. 

Children who stutter can pose challenges for both parents and teachers. Sometimes, there may be little or no trouble, while other times, a child's speech is filled with repeated words or syllables, noticeable facial scowls, or signs of significant strain. Understanding the psychological impact of stuttering on children is equally tough. Many children may become shy, deal with anxiety or refuse to talk to others.


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Common Indications of Stuttering

  • Repetitions of Sounds, Syllables, and Monosyllabic Words: This involves the repetition of sounds, syllables, or single words, such as "mu-mu-mu-mummy" or "out-out-out." These repetitions can be a hallmark of stuttering.
  • Prolongations of Consonants: Stuttering can also manifest as prolonged sounds or consonants that aren't for emphasis. For example, "mmmmmmummy" or "Sssssss sometimes we stay home."
  • Words Getting Stuck or Not Coming Out: In some instances, a word may become stuck or not come out at all as the person who stutters struggles to speak. This difficulty in starting or completing a word is a common feature of stuttering.


Causes of Stuttering in Children

Developmental stuttering is the most prevalent type in young children and often resolves on its own as their speech and language skills mature. Stuttering in children can have various causes. 

Here are the main types of stuttering causes:

  • Developmental Stuttering: This is the most common type of stuttering in children. It typically occurs when a child is between the ages of two and five years old. Developmental stuttering is related to the natural process of speech and language development. It can happen when a child's speech and language skills are still evolving, and they may struggle to express themselves fluently.
  • Neurogenic Stuttering: Neurogenic stuttering is associated with neurological factors. It can occur as a result of a stroke or brain injury that disrupts the communication between the brain, nerves, and the muscles involved in speech. This type of stuttering is less common and is often observed in older children or adults who have experienced a neurological event.
  • Psychogenic Stuttering: Psychogenic stuttering is relatively rare and can be linked to emotional trauma or psychological factors. It may occur in conjunction with cognitive or emotional issues, making it distinct from developmental stuttering.


Related story: 10 Ways To Support Your Child's Mental Health


Can A Child Surpass Stuttering?

As children grow and develop their speech and language skills, they may go through a phase where they repeat words or phrases, overuse certain words (like "and") while constructing sentences, and display somewhat uncoordinated speech patterns. This is a normal part of language development, and it's why more than 50 per cent of children eventually "outgrow" stuttering without any specific intervention.

However, it's crucial to observe the nature of the stuttering and how it manifests in your child. If your child's repetitions primarily involve partial words or prolonged sounds, and this seems to be causing them frustration or difficulty in expressing themselves, it may be wise to consider seeking professional help. A speech-language pathologist can assess your child's speech and provide guidance to encourage more coordinated speech and improved "speech fluency."


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What Can Parents Do To Help Their Child?

Parenting a child who stutters can be a challenging journey, especially as you don’t want your child to feel like there’s something wrong. However, like any other new experience in life, learning and providing unwavering support for your child becomes your guiding path as time goes on. Supporting a child who stutters can make a significant difference in their ability to manage their condition and develop effective communication skills. By following these tips, you can create a nurturing environment that helps your child thrive.


Here are some tips for parents to help their children who stutter:

1. Accept Dysfluency: Recognise that stuttering may be a part of your child's speech at times. It's okay to accept a certain amount of dysfluency as part of their normal communication. Encourage open discussions about stuttering with your child. Stuttering is nothing to be ashamed of, and children should know that it's okay to talk about it. 

2. Be a Good Listener: When your child is talking to you, be an active and attentive listener. Pay attention to the content of what your child is saying, rather than how they are saying it. Show genuine interest in their thoughts and ideas.

3. Avoid Interruptions: Try not to interrupt your child while they are speaking. Interrupting can make them feel self-conscious about their stuttering. Allow them to express themselves fully without interruptions.

4. Refrain from Criticism: Avoid constant criticism or pointing out their speech difficulties. Instead, be supportive and encouraging. Remember that stuttering is not their fault, and they are doing their best.

5. Resist Completing Sentences: Allow your child to complete their own sentences. Refrain from supplying words or finishing their thoughts for them. This gives them the opportunity to express themselves independently.

6. Regulate Speaking Speed: Speak to your child in a calm and relaxed manner. Pause occasionally during conversations. This modelling of unhurried speech can be more effective than directly asking your child to "slow down" or "try again slowly."

7. Avoid Constant Correction: Stuttering is not your child's fault; it's caused by neurological factors. Allow your child to express themselves without constant correction. Focus on promoting fluent speech through encouragement and patience rather than pointing out mistakes.

8. Take Small Steps: Recognise that there is no quick fix for stuttering. Treatment and improvement take time. Set realistic goals and work with your child in small, manageable steps. Be patient throughout the process.

9. Seek Professional Help: If you find that your efforts at home are not effectively reducing your child's stuttering, consider seeking the expertise of a speech therapist who specialises in treating fluency disorders.

10. Be Accepting: Most importantly, let your child know that you love and accept them, regardless of their speech fluency. Your support, understanding, and unconditional love will have the most significant impact on their self-esteem and confidence as a communicator.

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Parents of a child who stutters may have questions and concerns about how to best support their child's communication development. Here are five questions that parents can ask as a guide to understanding and addressing stuttering:

1. Is it common for children to stutter?
Yes, stuttering is relatively common in young children. Around 5 per cent of children may go through a period of stuttering at some point during their speech and language development.

2. When does stuttering typically begin in children?
Stuttering often starts between the ages of 2 and 5, during the period of rapid language development.

3. Will my child outgrow stuttering on their own?
Many children naturally outgrow stuttering without the need for therapy or intervention. However, it's essential to monitor the severity and emotional impact and consult a professional if needed.

4. How can I support my child who stutters?
Support your child by being an empathetic listener, promoting open communication, and seeking professional help if necessary. Avoid criticism, allow them to express themselves, and be patient.

5. Are there any long-term consequences of childhood stuttering?
Most children who stutter in their early years eventually improve or recover without lasting consequences. However, in some cases, stuttering can persist into adulthood.

Remember that every child is unique, and the experience of stuttering can vary widely. If parents are concerned about their child's stuttering, seeking guidance from a speech-language pathologist or a healthcare professional is recommended to determine the underlying cause and appropriate interventions. Create a supportive environment for your child, where they feel valued and encouraged to communicate. This can contribute to their confidence and overall fluency over time.

The article has been reviewed and verified by Dr. Shreya Charavarthy, Psychologist, URlife Studio, Apollo Health City, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad.


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Regular health checks are essential for everyone, but they are particularly important for individuals who are at risk of or already have stuttering. Taking regular health checks can help detect stuttering at an early stage when it is easier to manage and treat. With the UR.Life HRA, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you can bring your whole self to work.



Anjaneya Reddy 22 Dec 2023


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