How to support Speech Sounds Difficulties
In the previous blog post, I talked to you about one of the most frequent difficulties when it comes to communication development: speech difficulties.
We have seen their characteristics and causes, and who to turn to if our child, (or ourselves) has a speech impediment.
Today, however, I’d like to talk to you in detail about 5 strategies that can help us support our children with their sound articulation (speech).
These are general strategies, which can be used while waiting for a Speech and Language Assessment, or as at-home strategies in addition to existing Speech Therapy treatment.
Let’s have a look at them!
# 1: Re-model the word correctly
When your child is talking to you and you notice a speech mistake, don’t tell them they’re wrong, rather repeat the word correctly, trying to emphasize the right sound.
Also try to set up the conversation so that your child can hear the word correctly pronounced by you, two to three times.
Child: “Today I saw a tat at (s)chool”
Parent: “Wow, did you see a cat at school?”
Parent: “And what was this cat you saw like?”
Child: “Big and Orange”
Parent: “How nice! Is this the first time you have seen this cat at school? ”
There is no need to tell your child that this is how you say it or to ask him to repeat the word correctly – us remodeling the word is enough.
# 2: Encourage eye contact!
Get your child to look at you when you repeat a word to him, encouraging eye contact by coming face to face with them.
This is for two reasons:
- The child will have his attention on you
- And they will be able not only to hear the sound in question well, but also to watch the movement of your mouth as you speak it.
This will allow them to associate the sound with the correct movement of the tongue, lips and jaw and to copy it more easily.
# 3: Slow down!
When we have children who have speech impairments, it is good practice for us parents (or any adult in their life) to slow down our speech.
Slowing down our speech allows the child to hear (and see – according to point #2) all the sounds that make up the word.
This (especially with long words consisting of three or four syllables) leads the child to understand how many parts the word is made up of and how to pronounce all its sounds.
# 4: Separate the word into syllables!
When we consider rather long words, for example those made up of 3 or 4 syllables, a good strategy to support our child in pronouncing them could be to divide the word into syllables.
In this case, we could ask our child to repeat the word in its various parts (note: do this exercise in the form of a game, in a fun and motivating way).
Parent: “Yes, watermelon. Let’s repeat together: Wa… ”
# 5: Encourage self-corrections!
Compliment and praise your child when they correct themselves after mispronouncing a word.
This will give them more motivation to correct their own speech and eventually lead them to use the right sound.
Child: “Look, there’s a dod… a dog!”
Parent: “Very good, you fixed it up. First you said ‘dod’, but then you immediately remembered and said ‘dog’. Bravo for fixing it up! ”
Speech impairments should be considered as a simple error that can be easily corrected, but there could be the possibility that the child thinks that pronouncing a sound incorrectly is something to be ashamed of (false notion).
The outside world – including us parents – plays a very important role in creating these opinions.
Here are a couple of tips to keep a simple mistake from turning into something to be ashamed of:
- Try not to force the child to say the sound correctly. Most likely they are saying it as best they can.
- Try not to correct too much, as mentioned in #1, repeating the word ourselves has much more effect.
Try not to criticize or laugh at the way they talk, and encourage siblings and friends not to too.
Here, these are strategies that will help you support your child’s speech.
Let me know if you are already using them or if you will use them from now on.
See you soon.