As your child develops physically and mentally, you may notice a few problems that are influenced by factors like environment, genetics and so on. Among them, problems related to speech development is very common. In fact, almost 10 to 15% of preschoolers are known to have a speech problem.
Articulation problem in kids is generally associated with hearing dysfunction but this might not be the case all the time.
Here are a few common speech imperfections:
Stuttering - Stuttering could translate to repeating the first sound or syllable or the first word of a sentence. It is most commonly observed among kids who are between 2 and 3 years of age. This might not happen all the time but in situations where the child is tired, excited or trying to express his feelings, stuttering is more likely.
Lisping - Lisping is a speech problem that is seen in kids learning new words. A child with a lisp might substitute certain sounds with others. For example - The sounds ‘s’ and ‘z’ are not pronounced right, and certain words like ‘Sour’ will be pronounced as ‘THour’
Long pauses - Sometimes kids tend to take lengthy pauses between words to either think of the right word or to structure their thought in an articulate way. It’s similar to what one might do when s/he is learning a new language and trying to speak in it.
Is there anything you can do?
Although there is no single reason as to why children stutter, there are few things things you can as a parent to help deal and reduce speech problems in your child.
Manage stress - Stress and Strain play a crucial role in your child’s speech development. So, avoid pressuring your child into perfecting the language and let them learn at their own pace.
Read aloud - Whether you’re reading on your own or reading to your child, make each word clean and clearly pronounced. Your child will pick up these words when heard on a regular basis and will be more confident towards using them correctly.
Talk with your child - Make some time to talk to your child everyday. Have dinner every night as a family. Talking with adults is known to increase a child’s vocabulary and expose themselves to words that they most likely won’t hear from their classmates.
If your child is still a preschooler and you find any of the above mentioned problems, you don’t need to rush to the doctor immediately. As they grow, their speech skills will improve because they gain more control over their muscles involved in the speech process. But if you are worried, consult with a pediatrician and talk about different options available to you.