A question from a super reader:
My just turned 4 year old son started (about 3 months ago) to say /sh/ instead of the /s/ sound. Saying “**it” instead of “sit” – UGH!
At first I thought it was just annoying….but now I realize it’s a terrible habit that he can’t stop.
When I’ve showed him in the mirror the difference between the sounds and how our tongue makes them – he tries really hard to keep his tongue in his mouth but still puts his tongue to his top row of teeth.
How else can I coach him to speak correctly?
I don’t want him to have a lisp or another speech problem that kids will terrorize him about…
Sorry, I had to laugh at your example. So the big question is, does he do this for all /s/ sounds, or only a few? Also, does he pucker his lips like he is telling someone to be quiet? If he does it for all /s/ sounds and he is not puckering his lips, then he may have a lateral lisp.
Have him try these:
“She took a shower near the bush.”
“She sells sea shells by the seashore.”
here are a few made up words to try:
A lateral lisp should definitely be addressed by a Speech Pathologist as he probably won’t “outgrow” it.
A /sh/ for /s/ substitution, on the other hand, can be worked on in front of a mirror. Have your child practice “s” words with you and watch each other’s lips. Make sure there is no lip rounding. Try smiling and making /s/ sounds.
Practice some minimal pairs making sure they sound very different and the child can hear and say the differences:
To see a great movie clip of the sound differences go here, then click on “fricatives”. Compare the /s, z/ with the row below that /sh, dg/.
And, in the privacy of your home, make sure he practices and masters: sit/**it !! 😉