Information about stammering - for children and young people

Information about stammering for children.PNGStammering is also called ‘stuttering’, ‘dysfluency’ or ‘bumpy talking’. It includes:

  • repeating a sound (h-h-h-hello) or a whole word or phrase (I want…I want… I want a biscuit)
  • sounds keep coming out/ stretching (mmmmmaybe) and you can’t move on to the next word
  • words or sounds don’t come out at all and get stuck!

Stammering can be frustrating. You might look away when you stammer, give up with your talking, feel tense in your body, face, mouth and your breathing may be different.

What causes stammering?

We don’t know exactly what causes stammering. There are probably lots of different factors which are different for each person.

We do know that:

  • it often runs in families maybe you have a family member who also stammers?
  • stammering isn’t anyone’s fault
  • stammering usually starts in childhood
  • the way your brain works for speech may be slightly different to people who don’t stammer
  • it is not caused by being nervous or feeling anxious
  • stammering can come and go. You may not stammer for a while and then it comes back.

You are not alone

Around 1 in 12 children experience stammering. Stammering is OK – you can still be an excellent communicator and people who stammer have gone on to do lots of amazing things. In fact, there are lots of famous people who stammer like Ed Sheeran and Joe Biden.

Here are what some other children who stammer have to say…

“If I meet new people I try and say ‘Hi, I’ve got a stammer, I’m not worried about it so you shouldn’t either. Once I’ve got that off my chest, everything’s much easier.”

“It’s quite hard a lot of the time cause you don’t say what you want to say and you have to keep on changing what you’re about to say to avoid stammering.”

Top tips 

  • People are more interested in what you have to say than how you are saying it.
  • Talk to someone you trust (it might be a friend, a family member or teacher) about your stammer and tell them what they can do to help and what doesn’t help.
  • If you take notice of other people’s communication skills, you will see no one is perfect.
  • The harder you try not to stammer, the worse it gets – go with the flow.
  • Notice the times when you feel more confident talking to others.
  • Remember some days talking may be trickier and that’s ok.
  • It might help to tell people that you stammer rather than hiding it from them.
  • It’s OK to stammer everyone has times when their words don’t come out smoothly.

What help is available?

Stammering impacts everyone differently. Some people find it really hard and want to stop it. Others don’t mind it. However you feel is OK and support is available if you need it. Speech and language therapists can help with…

  • building up confidence around speaking
  • learning more about communication
  • talking about stammering
  • practising ways to relax
  • learning ways help words come out easier.

Charities who offer support and advice

Stamma: call the Talk to Us helpline on 0808 802 0002 or webchat online (weekdays 10am-noon and 6pm8pm) for free, confidential and anonymous advice. Or email

Action for Stammering Children

The Michael Palin Centre

Stammering: information for parents and carers