How to Help a Child Who Cannot Pronounce the Letter S

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If your child has a speech impediment that prevents him from enunciating the letter "s," you can help him with just a few simple tools and tricks. The "s" sound is problematic for many young children, but most outgrow the problem around age 7 or 8, according to Early Intervention Support. Don't worry if your young child doesn't catch on to the the "s" sound right away. However, if she is older than 8 and still cannot pronounce "s," arrange a meeting with a speech therapist.

Things You'll Need

  • Mirror
  • Tell your child to watch your lips and tongue carefully while you make the "s" sound. Ask him to explain how your lips and tongue look. Reading tutor and author Miscese Gagen suggests telling your child to "keep the tiger in the cage." The "s" sound is made by keeping the tongue behind the teeth.

  • Give your child a mirror. Gagen says to let her watch where her tongue and lips are when they are making the "z" sound. "Z" is similar to "s" in terms of tongue and lip position. Tell her to feel her throat when she enunciates "z." Her Adam's apple will vibrate.

  • Ask your child to pretend that she is about to make the "z" sound by getting her lips and tongue ready. Then, says Gagen, tell her to make the "z" sound without letting her throat vibrate. Have her put a hand on her throat to feel when it is and isn't vibrating. Since "z" requires vocal cord vibrations and "s" does not, your child should automatically switch from "z" to "s" when she keeps her throat from vibrating.

  • Schedule practice sessions for your child. Over time, he will be able to pronounce "s" without having to transition from the "z" sound first, Gagen says.

Tips & Warnings

  • Reward your child's progress with small treats to keep her motivated.
  • If your child's speech problems are troubling or last past the age of 8, Early Intervention Support encourages you to seek help from a speech therapist.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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