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Speech: Stuttering

Many parents become concerned when they think their child has a stuttering or stammering problem. But learning to speak takes a long time, and it's common for children to make mistakes as they learn.

Repeating whole words in a sentence is common among girls between two and three years old, and in boys between three and four years old. This is something your child can't control, and it will usually stop on its own.

No one knows for sure why this kind of stuttering happens, but it's believed that the child is thinking faster than he can talk. You may notice it happens more when your child is tired or excited, or perhaps when there's a lot happening at one time, creating confusion. Sometimes a change in routine may cause stuttering, or may make it worse.

It's quite likely that your child isn't even aware she is repeating words, and it's best not to draw attention to the problem. Discourage other people from pointing it out, and never yell at or punish your child for stuttering. Experts say you shouldn't even tell children to slow down and think about what they're saying. In other words, the less attention you pay to it, the less of a problem it's likely to be.

There are other things you can do to help. When talking to your child, speak slowly and listen carefully. Keep stressful communication situations to a minimum - like trying to speak with your child in the middle of a noisy group.

Most importantly, remember that having stuttering difficulties when learning to speak usually does not mean a child is less intelligent than other children. Intelligence is made up of many factors, many of which are not related to speaking.

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