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Milestones: Is stuttering a sign of trouble?

If your child has trouble speaking, pauses often or frequently uses “um” and “uh,” he or she may have a stuttering problem. But don’t panic—this may be normal, as your child develops language skills, says the Nemours Foundation. The condition’s causes include heredity, speech or developmental problems and differences in language processing.

Many kids go through a stuttering stage that begins at about age 2 and goes away by age 5. If your child’s frequent stuttering worsens and is accompanied by body or facial movements, a speech-language therapist can evaluate your child before age 3. If your youngster is still stuttering at age 5, talk to your pediatrician and possibly a speech-language therapist.

Take the following steps from the Nemours Foundation to provide a positive environment for your child:

  • Speak slowly and clearly to your child. Maintain eye contact when talking.
  • Make talking fun. Don’t be too strict with your child’s word blunders. Patience goes a long way.
  • Revolve family meals around conversation. Turn off the TV and radio and catch up on the day’s activities.
  • Encourage activities that don’t center around talking. If your child’s stuttering gets worse, he or she doesn’t need more tension.
  • Involve teachers. If your child is stuttering at school, his or her teacher may be able to ease uncomfortable situations.
  • Assure your child that your love is unconditional. He or she needs your support.