To a parent, the mispronounced “s” and “z” sounds of a child are as adorable as it gets. But the little ones don’t always share the same sentiment, especially around the age of 5 when they start socializing more at school.
By that time, a lisp can affect a child’s ability to be:
- Confident with his peers
- Confident when sharing his opinions
That said, you shouldn’t worry too much if your child has a lisp. That’s because these mispronunciations typically correct on their own with time. But if you feel that your child is lagging a bit too much, then a little speech therapy will do the trick.
The Two Main Types of Lisps
There are two main types of lisps:
- Frontal protrusion lisp: The common lisp that causes kids to pronounce the “s” sound as a “th” sound.
- Lateral omission lisp: A rare type which is a more “wet” sounding lisp that causes kids to spit when trying to pronounce “s” and “z” sounds.
A frontal protrusion lisp typically resolves on its own with time and a little practice, but a lateral omission lisp requires intervention. The good news is that speech therapy can correct both types.
3 Effective Strategies to Get Rid of a Lisp
The following three strategies can help you improve your child’s lisp at home with routine practice:
1. Practice the Butterfly Technique
Before trying the butterfly technique, have your child practice speech correction by trying to pronounce the “s” and “z” sounds while keeping his teeth closed.
Practice the above exercise for three minutes as a warmup for the butterfly technique.
Once your kid is done, tell him to follow these instructions to do the butterfly technique correctly:
- Start by raising the side of your tongue, like a butterfly’s wing.
- Slightly touch the back teeth with your tongue. This is to ensure that the tip won’t extend beyond the front teeth.
- Pronounce the “s” sound for thirty seconds and then the “z” sound for another thirty seconds. Keep your tongue raised to the side and touching the back teeth at all times.
Repeat the butterfly technique three times to maximize its impact.
2. Focus on Tongue Placement
If you didn’t know already, tongue placement directly affects a lisp. That’s why you need to make your child aware of where his tongue should be when he’s trying to make certain sounds.
For instance, if his tongue presses towards the front of his mouth, you should tell him to practice tipping his tongue downward while pronouncing “s” or “z” consonants.
3. Practice Initial, Medial, and Final Consonants
If your child has trouble pronouncing the sound “s”, ask him to practice words that:
- Start with “s” (initial)
- End with “s” (final)
- Have “s” in the middle (medial)
If we could share only one strategy from our list, this would be it. Practicing words with initial, medial, and final consonants is the best exercise to overcome a lisp.
While these strategies make for a great starting point, they are not a replacement for professional help. This is especially true if your child still has a lateral omission or a frontal protrusion near the age of five, in which case you should visit an SLP right away.
The SLP will diagnose your child, make a list of mispronounced sounds, and then provide the therapy your child needs to correct his lisp.
Furthermore, the SLP will also recommend a home speech exercise plan that’s tailored to your child’s needs.
If you have any questions about lisps or how speech therapy works for kids, our team of speech-language pathologists is here to help.