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When Kids Stutter

When Elise Freeman turned 4, she suddenly started stumbling over words. "Her brother's name became P-p-p-parker," says mom Sandy, of Clive, IA. Just weeks later, the problem was gone.

Experts don't know exactly what causes stuttering, but they do know it's common in preschoolers, with their expanding language skills. Most outgrow it within a year, if not sooner. To help your child handle a stutter:

Don't draw attention to the problem  -- it'll just make her feel worse. Urging her to "slow down" or "take a breath" won't work, either.

Enforce a \"no interrupting\" rule. Your child may stutter when she feels she has to keep up with a conversation. Pause often to let her catch up. If someone interrupts her, correct that person gently. ("Oops. It's Jordan's turn to talk.")

Seek help. If the problem persists for at least three months, contact a speech-language pathologist. Try to find one who's a board-recognized fluency expert in preschool stuttering. To locate one in your area, visit The National Stuttering Association (