Stuttering in Toddlers- Should I Worry?
Almost all toddlers will go through a phase where their speech is not smooth and would be considered dysfluent. This usually occurs when children are in a language acquisition phase. Putting together longer sentences, gaining new vocabulary, and learning how to participate in conversations are all new things that your child is trying to master during this phase. Their brains tend to become a bit over loaded. Children experiencing these language growths may start to exhibit dysfluencies in a variety of ways, such as repeating words ("my my my turn"), repeating sounds ("I want a c-c-c-cookie"), prolonging sounds ("thaaaat's mine"), or adding sounds ("Daddy uh uh go uh uh bye bye"). Here's the good news- THIS IS ALL NORMAL! Most children will grow out of this stage easily and without any special intervention.
Below are some suggestions if you feel your child may be presenting with normal dysfluencies.
1. Try not to call attention to the stuttering. Most children don't realize they are doing it and calling attention it may indirectly cause it to happen more. Asking them to stop and start over will only cause them frustration.
2. Model a slower speaking rate when speaking to your child. When given a model, kids automatically respond with a slower rate.
3. Stuttering can increase with stress, excitement, and increased activity. Carve out time for your child to be in a relaxed, quiet setting with you to share. You can read together and talk about the pictures or discuss the day. Try to limit distractions like TVs, technology, or other siblings. Aim to give your child your full attention.
4. Children are rarely dysfluent when they sing. Have some fun with sing along games, finger plays (itsy-bitsy spider), and simple poems, they are greats ways to encourage smooth speech.
If you feel that your child is becoming increasingly frustrated by his/her speech or displays any of the following secondary characteristics associated with stuttering (eye blinking, straining in the mouth area to create a sound, or physical movements such as kicking or punching to get sounds out) it is recommended to have a speech evaluation.