If your preschooler is beginning to show signs of stuttering, don’t panic. A bit of disruption and nonfluency is nothing to worry about between the ages of 2 ½ and 4 years old. If your child’s speech does not improve as time goes on, however, it is recommended to consult a professional. Here are a few exercises you can practice with your child at home:

Patience

Preschoolers are not at a very patient age, but it is important to instill this value within them, especially when it comes to speaking. In order to produce sounds and words effectively, teach your child to take his/her time when speaking. Demonstrate examples by pausing in your own speech when speaking to your child. When he/she asks you a question, stop and say, “Let me think about that,” before answering. 

Play Together

Rephrasing can help improve fluency in children. If they say, “I w-w-w-want to play house,” respond to affirm what they said in a slow manner. For example, you could slowly say, “You want to play house? I want to play house, too.” Playing games can also help reinforce easy speech. Draw a maze with squares and have some picture cards on hand. The rules of the game are that you can only move to the next square if you use slow, relaxed speech to name the object on each picture card. For a more active game, you can use chalk to draw a hopscotch board and place objects in the squares, jumping from square to square after naming the objects. 

Slow Reading

Leading by example is a great way to help children improve their speech. Read to them using slow, clear speech and pause for a second after saying each word in a sentence. After reading, you can ask your child to describe the pictures on the pages in the same slow manner that you read them. 

Family Support

Rather than telling your child to slow down when they speak, slow down your own speech as well as the conversations held within your home. Encourage your family to speak slowly and clearly, as the hustle and bustle of a busy household can affect how the child who stutters communicates. The child may increase their rate of speech in order to feel heard, or they may become frustrated if many people are talking at once and they can’t get the attention they need. Set aside time during the day to give your child one-on-one attention to allow them to communicate without interruption. 

SpeechEasy

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