Q- My 3-year-old occasionally stutters. Is this a normal part of his language development, or does he need to see a speech pathologist?
A- Repeating syllables of entire words is a common problem in children who are just beginning to speak in sentences, says Lucy Osborn, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City. When kids become excited or stressed, they may forget recently learned skills. "Stuttering is a sign that their minds are working faster than their tongues," she explains. Parents should seek medical attention if the behavior persists beyond age 4. At this point, the child will usually be tense when he tries to speak, and frustrated.
To help your child overcome the harmless type of word repetition, don't call attention to it. Do encourage him to slow down and stay calm while he's speaking. The behavior should disappear on its own.