Can parents cause stammering?

Can parents cause stammering?

Definitely not!

As parents, we all start to assume that everything we do is potentially wrong for our children, with guilt and worrying seeming to start as soon as the baby is born! There is apparently an innate drive that makes us all aim to be perfect parents, demanding that we are able to get it right.

This misconception about parents causing stammering seems to be related to some old, poor-quality research. An American speech pathologist (who had a stammer himself) developed a theory that the problem was caused by "highly anxious" parents labelling the normal hesitancies of developing speech as stuttering. Worse still, it was suggested that parents' "negative reaction" to their child's speech then caused the child to struggle to stop these moments of disjointed speech and that it was this effort that created the stammering.

There have now been countless research studies investigating whether parents of children who stammer do react or interact differently with these children - and the answer is quite clear:

Parents don't cause stammering!