Stuttering in Children


Stuttering occurs when the “fluency” or flow of speech is impaired. Sometimes it involves repetition of a sound (ex., M-m-m-me), or a prolongation of a sound (ex,. mmmmmmom) or blocking on a sound If one lives with stuttering for a long time without therapy, other behaviours can also develop, such as avoiding eye contact when speaking to someone, hitting one’s leg to get a word out, or avoiding certain words that the person thinks will make him stutter.

Stuttering often emerges between the ages of two and five, usually at the same time language develops. It is genetic in 60 per cent of cases. Physically, stuttering is a problem in coordinating breathing (respiration) with turning on the voice (phonation) and pronouncing sounds (articulation). It is not caused by personality factors such as shyness or nervousness or “thinking too fast.”

Here is some advice:

Here is some advice:

  • Your child will hesitate more if he feels you are not listening to him. Be a good listener and get down to his level;    
  • Establish eye contact;    
  • Let him finish his sentences and avoid finishing his sentences for him;
  • If you are busy or rushed and do not have time to listen, explain this to him;
  • Listen to what he says not how he says it;
  • Avoid saying things such as “Take your time”, “Think about what you want to say before speaking”;
  • Your child needs a good model. When talking to him, use complete and simple sentences at a slower pace. Use occasional pauses in your speech;
  • Your child does not always stutter; he has his ups and downs. When your child is in a “good” phase, choose activities that are more language based (ex: telling a story, playing a board game). If your child is in a more difficult phase, then choose activities requiring less language (ex: arts and crafts, puzzles, etc.);
  • If your child is younger than 5, he is still learning to master language. It is expected that he will make mistakes. Avoid having him repeat if you have understood his message in the first place. If he does leave out some parts, simply repeat his message in the correct form;
  • Your child will be less fluent more when he is tired, angry or upset. His home life should have reasonable and consistent expectations and an established routine which will help him feel secure and content;
  • If your child appears to be concerned by his speech, you should reassure him by telling him that: we all have “bumps” in our speech; there are times when he speaks smoothly;
  • All the important people who are in contact with your child (grandparents, caregivers, educators …) should be made aware of these suggestions and follow them.

Our department does not asses or follow children who stutter. If stuttering has persisted for 6 months or more, please refer directly to your regional “Centre de réadaptation en déficience physique” (CRDP) or CIUSSS. However, here are some useful links in this regard: