How to Help a Child Who Cannot Pronounce the Letter "S"

It's not unusual for toddlers or preschoolers to have delays in speech development. Making the "s" sound can be particularly tricky, and your child may feel embarrassed if he can't say it like everybody else. The good news is that, with a bit of patience and encouragement, and by playing some fun games together, you can help your child overcome that speech impairment and learn to "s" with the best of them.

Supportive games and activities

  1. Play games that encourage the "s" sound. All kids learn through play, and the fact that it's fun doesn't hurt. According to speech therapist and writer Gill Thompson, games can encourage kids to speak certain sounds. One game involves folding index cards in half so they have a flap. Under the flap, draw a picture of an "s" word like sock, soap, sun, sea. Ask your child to open a flap and say the word he sees. If you draw about as well as your child says "s," cut pictures from magazines or use photographs instead.

  1. Make your own sock snake together. Allow your child to decorate it however she likes. Use the snake to encourage making the "sssss" sound. Put the sock puppet on your hand and hiss like a snake. This will not only help her speech development but also make learning the sound a fun activity. Every time you want to practice the "s" sound, get out the snake to sssssuggest she sssssay the sssssound of "sssss."

  1. Say Mother Goose rhymes and sing simple songs with your child that feature the "s" sound, and take turns with the lines. For example, if "Humpty Dumpty" is your pick, you could get it started and encourage your little one to chime in on "SAT on a wall."

  1. Be your child's biggest cheerleader. Every time he says the "s" sound correctly, praise him and give him a star. For an extra twist, you could use glitter that he can sprinkle on the star when he can say a certain word, such as "star," correctly

  2. Tips

    Be patient and allow plenty of time for your child to learn the sound. Even if you do not fully understand what your little one is saying, encourage his efforts and remind him how proud you are. If he feels discouraged, he may not want to try the sound at all.

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