How to Teach Toddlers to Pronounce the Letter R

By Kathryn Hatter
With positive interactions, your toddler will learn R pronunciation.
With positive interactions, your toddler will learn R pronunciation.

The R sound is one of the most mispronounced sounds for children, states the NW Speech Therapy website. As your toddler begins to learn some words, it’s likely that he won’t say his R sounds quite right. Although you might be eager to correct mispronunciations, proceed carefully to avoid creating more problems for your youngster. With gentle guidance and example, your little one will soon learn the correct way to pronounce the letter R.

Listen for instances when your toddler mispronounces words with R in them. It’s likely you will hear her replace the R sound with a W sound, such as “wain” for “rain” or “wed” for “red,” advises the licensed speech-language pathologist Renee Friedlander Rosenberg, with the East Prairie School District in Illinois. You might also hear your little one drop an R ending from a word, such as “laddah” for “ladder” or “diggah” for “digger.”

Correct the mispronunciation gently whenever your child mispronounces an R word so your little one will hear the correct pronunciation. Emphasize the R sound clearly to teach your child by modeling the correct sound. For example, when you hear “wain,” you might say, “I see the rain, too. The rain is giving the flowers a drink!”

Practice R sounds by combining this sound with a long vowel sound, advises Chicago Speech Therapy. Try saying the word “ear” by lengthening the E sound significantly and then transitioning into the R sound. Say “oar” and “air” also by stretching out the vowel sounds and blending them into the R sound. Invite your little one to say these words, too.

Read books to your toddler to provide more exposure to the R sounds. Whenever you read R words, enunciate them clearly for the most effect.

Sing songs to your toddler so she can hear the proper pronunciation of a variety of sounds. Although your toddler might not have strong enough verbal skills to join in all the words, the repetition and melody of songs can make pronunciation stronger.

Instruct family and friends not to make an issue of the mispronunciation. Tell people that it is not unusual for children as old as 7 or 8 years of age to mispronounce R sounds, states registered speech language pathologist Shelley Hughes. No one should tease or mock toddlers about their speech.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.