Speech Problems in Children

What You Can Do

In the early stages of stuttering, parent education and guidance may be all that's needed to create a more relaxed environment for your child to express himself. We still don't have a clear-cut answer as to why children stutter, but there are things parents can do to help alleviate the problem. Here are three ways:

1. Reduce your child's stress. While it's not clear why children stutter, it is known that emotional stress is significantly associated with stuttering, as is a family history of the condition, says Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation of America. Avoid pressuring your child to speed up her language skills or correcting her speech imperfections.

2. Read to your child. The best way to help your child develop language skills is to read to her, notes Dr. Prazar. Research shows that kids who are read to on a regular basis are likely to develop meaningful language -- saying their first real words -- earlier and more effectively. Make sure to point out the car, the ball, or the puppy in the book and say the words clearly.

3. Eat dinner as a family. Studies show that families who eat together have kids with better verbal skills. It's possible that when children regularly participate in conversation with adults, they learn a wealth of new vocabulary words and the proper ways of using language, says Dr. Prazar.

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