Your child should be able to appropriately produce the /s/ sound by 8-years-old. To correctly produce the /s/ sound your child’s tongue should stay behind his teeth and air should blow straight through the middle of the mouth.
A lisp is when the tongue goes between the teeth for the /s/ sound (and usually the /z/ sound as well).
This type of production is when the tongue stays behind the teeth but the air goes out of the sides of the mouth. This error makes the /s/ sound a little bit like a “sh” sound.
Tips to produce /s/ correctly
- Practice in front of a mirror with your child.
- Show your child how you produce the /s/ sound.
- Let your child know the rules of the /s/ sound; tongue stays behind your teeth and air is blown straight through the middle.
- Have your child try to smile with his teeth closed and then produce the /s/ sound
- If your child is younger, you can try this analogy: Your teeth are a cage and your tongue is a snake. Keep the snake in the cage and don’t let it out when making the /s/ sound.
- Have your child practice /s/ by itself in isolation (“SSSSSS”)
- Once your child can produce /s/ with his tongue behind his teeth, have him practice the sound in syllables (i.e. see, say, sah, soo, sigh).
- When your child has mastered the sound in syllables, move onto the sound in the initial position of words (i.e. sit, sign, sick, sip).
Free /S/ Activity
Click to download the activity: Silly Sock Activity
Remember, if you are concerned about your child’s speech skills, contact a licensed speech-language pathologist.