Q&A: stuttering in toddlers/preschoolers

A few weeks ago, my youngest one (he turned 3 in May) started stuttering. At first it was cute, but now it's getting a little bit annoying because he gets so annoyed by it. I'm not worried about it, because it seems clear to me that it's part of the disequilibrium phase Ames & Ilg talk about in their 2-year-old and 3-year-old books. It came out of nowhere, and is happening simultaneously with a huge growth spurt (I think he's grown 2 inches in the past two weeks) and a bunch of new skills and a cranky, brittle stage.

Once again, it appears I'm not the only one. Kathy writes:

"My almost 2 ½ year old son hasbeen a really good talker for the last 4 months or so.  Vocabulary was going well and he was easy to understand.  Then he started stuttering a week and a half ago.  He’d just gone through a growth spurt and then began sleeping 5 hours straight and even through the night on occasion (something new for us, and I have no idea if it is related to the stuttering).  Then about a week later the stuttering started.  At first it was him repeating the word “you” at the beginning of the sentence.  Then it was a few more words at the start of sentences.  Now it’s all through his speech.  We corrected the first couple of days, then found out not to do that, just be patient and talk slowly yourself.  The doctor didn’t seem concerned at this point, and said if he is still having trouble at three, then they will review it then.

Is it really that normal?  He gets so frustrated, and even will hold his chin like he’s trying to stop himself from stuttering.  It is really hard to watch.  There are times when he will even break down and say he can’t do it.  I am looking for any tips on what to do and or expect from this."

It's so normal, but so frustrating, isn't it? To reassure you, it is all about the growth spurts and developmental things. He'll be really smooth at some times and then jerky and clumsy at others. The stuttering is part of that.

I wish I knew what to do to help him. My guy's old enough that he can still make himself understood past the stuttering, but with such a new talker it's a different ballgame. Does anyone have any tips for Kathy to help her and her son get past this phase? I've just been ignoring it, but it also isn't as cumbersome for my not-so-little guy.