In this video, 36-month old Sam uses vocabulary and language to get help in solving a problem he is having. The vocabulary he chooses, such as “problems” and “not working very well,” will serve him well in the school setting later on, when he is asked to problem-solve, express ideas, and explain why he is upset to the grown-ups in his classroom. He has heard this vocabulary used for years by his parents, as they spoke about having problems and finding solutions,and it has become part of his vocabulary because of their use. As a successful language user, Sam does not need to rely on behavior (e.g., crying, throwing a temper tantrum, whining, etc.) to get his need met. The language he uses engages his mom successfully and he is able to collaborate with her to find a satisfactory solution. To be sure, the ability to engage others with words and collaborate will make him successful in the 21st century classroom.
Although Sam seems to struggle with finding his words and seems to be “stuttering,” this speech pattern is entirely typical for a child his age. Children go through a period of dysfluency, or “stuttering,” between 2 and 6 years of age. During this period, their “talking muscles” simply cannot keep up with their ideas and language use. Sam is working hard to formulate his ideas as well as keep his muscles moving in a coordinated, precise manner. However, there can be cause for concern during the period from 2-6 years old if there are blocks in airflow in which airflow is cut off, prolonged use of sounds (e.g., I ssssssss-saw the hhhhhhhhhh-horse), or repetition of sounds in the middle of phrases (e.g., I’m g-g-g-g-going hhhhhhhhhhome) as opposed to at the beginning of an idea, or as a child is getting started expressing an idea.