My child stutters: Is the school a problem?

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Could the school environment be contributing to him stuttering?
Could the school environment be contributing to him stuttering?

A distressed local mom reached out to Parent24 for advice regarding her three year old son's stutter.

According to her, the progress her son made after speech therapy was lost when he returned to school after the holidays.

Here Clinical Psychologist, Gerda Kriel, provides insights into possible causes and what can be done to address the developmental issue. 

(Did you know, Emily Blunt was afflicted with a severe stutter in her childhood? Watch this video for more

See the mom's letter and Kriel's response below. 

Dear Parent 24 team,

My son (3) started stuttering late last year and went to speech therapy, which helped us address some of what we thought was the issue (getting up early for school, rushing, etc.).
He then completely stopped over the holiday period and then started stuttering again when the school started last week.

He has complained that the teachers are always putting him in the calming chair and that's part of why he cries in the morning not wanting to go inside the school.

Could the school environment be contributing to him stuttering?

Thank you,
Worried Mom

Dear Parent24 reader, 

Stuttering is a condition that can be distressing for parents and children alike.

A number of factors might contribute to the development of stuttering, and it sounds like you have already taken steps in the right direction by getting your son in speech therapy.

Since the exact situation at home and school is not available to me, I will discuss some general considerations when it comes to stuttering.

Firstly, at the age of three, children are most likely still finding their confidence with words.

Some children are more precocious, but many are still learning to form their tongues around foreign vowels, and this can definitely contribute to the development of your child's confidence.

Having patience and responding to your child in a gentle and supportive manner will help build confidence.

Second, children have different temperaments. Some children are more prone to anxiety, and this can present in separation anxiety or school avoidance behaviour.

Three is still quite young, and children of this age often have a hard time verbalising their emotions effectively.

It is helpful to help your children to identify their feelings, by reflecting and describing it to them, so you might say: I see that you are nervous about going to school, that is a feeling we have that sometimes feels like little butterflies in our tummy.

This will help your child identify what they are feeling.

The third consideration would be to look at what your morning routine looks like, not just the action, but the emotions attached to them. Is everyone rushed and yelling? Is everything calm and ordered?

Again, here the temperament of your child is extremely important, and it is useful to try and adjust your family routine. Try and notice what works for your family that lessens your child's stuttering.

In order to say with confidence if the school is contributing to your child's stuttering, I recommend approaching a professional for an assessment.

Many therapists conduct assessments of the child in the class environment, to ascertain whether any factors at school are contributing to a child's stuttering.

Gerda Kriel provides therapeutic support for individuals, couples, families and parents with infants.

Do you have a question regarding your child's development? Let us know and perhaps we can help. 

Chat back:

Share your question with Parent24. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

WhatsApp: Send messages and voicenotes to 066 010 0325

Email: Share your story with us via email at chatback @ parent24.com

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Read more:

Steve Harvey shared how he overcame his childhood stutter, and the internet's reaction is mixed

My child can’t talk properly

A stutterer speaks

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