Help for Stuttering

Question: My preschooler stutters at times. We generally ignore it, but his preschool teacher tells him to slow down and even completes his sentences. How should we react? Should we seek help for him? – Possible Problem.

Answer: Young children can go through stages in which they repeat syllables and words, hesitate, and use “uh,” “er,” and “um.” This is just part of learning to use language. On the other hand, having difficulty with speaking and hesitating and repeating syllables and words may indicate a stuttering problem according to the Stuttering Foundation of America.

You need to know whether or not your child has a stuttering problem because the younger a child is, the more successful therapy is. The easiest way to become informed is to read the wealth of materials available by going online to the Stuttering Foundation website at or by calling 800-992-9392. Get the organization’s brochure “If You Think Your Child Is Stuttering…” There is also a brochure “The Child Who Stutters at School” that should be helpful for the teacher.

Your reaction to your child’s speech is far better than his teacher’s. You might also want to say, “It’s okay” or give him a hug if he is upset by his speech problems. Telling your child to slow down or finishing his sentences may even aggravate his speech problems.

The Stuttering Foundation recommends reacting to stuttering problems in these ways:

* Remain calm if you hear your child stutter.

* Give the child your attention and listen carefully, allowing him to complete his sentence without interruption.

* Talk in a slow, relaxed way yourself, this will be more effective than any criticism or advice to “try it again slowly.”

* Convey that you are listening to what your child says, not how it is said. This will build confidence and likely increase fluency.

(c) Compass Syndicate Corporation. Distributed by King Features Syndicate.