What is stuttering?

Stuttering (also called stammering) occurs when the flow of speech is interrupted. Such interruptions may include:

  • The prolonging of speech sounds
  • Frequent repetitions
  • Difficulty in beginning to speak a new word
  • Feeling tense when trying to speak

People who stutter may have tremors of the lips and/or jaw, rapid eye blinking, or other movements in the face or upper body. These movements may be used by the person who stutters in an effort to begin speaking.

Who is affected by stuttering?

It is estimated that 3 million Americans stutter. Although it can affect anyone, stuttering is most often found in young children (ages 2-6) who are still learning to talk. Boys are three times more likely to stutter than girls. Most children stop stuttering as they age, and fewer than 1 percent of adults stutter.

Symptoms and Causes

What causes stuttering?

Stuttering may be caused by various factors and seems to run in families. However, no genes for stuttering have been found. Parenting styles do not cause stuttering.

Management and Treatment

How is stuttering treated?

While there is no cure for stuttering, therapy for young children can help to reduce stuttering. Treatment focuses on reducing and managing the stuttering and on parent education.

Sometimes stuttering becomes less severe and fluency is improved when the person who stutters can engage in situations like speaking alone or singing.

Living With

What are some tips for dealing with a child who stutters?

  • Do not say things like, “relax,” “slow down,” or “take a breath.” Such comments may make the child more nervous.
  • Let the child know that there can be times when speaking precisely is not required.
  • Listen to what the child is saying, rather than how he or she is saying it.
  • Do not interrupt the child or ask him or her to start over.
  • When you are talking to the child, speak clearly and slowly.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/30/2019.


  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Stuttering. ( Accessed 11/18/2021.
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Stuttering. ( Accessed 11/18/2021.
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Childhood Fluency Disorders. ( Accessed 11/18/2021.
  • The Stuttering Foundation. 7 Tips for Talking with Your Child. ( Accessed 11/18/2021.

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