Does your child have difficulty making the /f/ sound? Does he say “pish” instead of fish? Well, if your child is over the age of 4, then this error is no longer age-appropriate. Developmentally, children between the ages of 3- and 4-years are able to say the /f/ sound consistently in conversational speech. Luckily, the /f/ sound is very visual and should be easy to teach your child the accurate production. Follow these easy steps and your child will be saying the /f/ sound in no time!
Step 1: Accurate Placement
Sit in front of a mirror with your child and show him where you put your teeth to make the /f/ sound. Your top teeth should be placed lightly on your lower lip. Have your child imitate this position. (Tip: If your child is struggling to get proper placement put a little bit of peanut butter or frosting on his bottom lip. Have him use his top teeth to touch this spot on his lip)
Step 2: Blow Air
Once your child is able to achieve proper placement for /f/ tell him to blow out air from his mouth keeping his teeth on his bottom lip. You can model this step for him and have him put his hand in front of your mouth to feel the air. Once your child is able to do this step himself, he will have mastered /f/ in isolation. Practice this step a few times to make sure your child really understands how to produce /f/ correctly.
Step 3: Practice the Sound in Syllables
Next, have your child practice this sound in syllables. Continue to practice using a mirror so your child can visually see his placement. Practice the following syllables:
- fi (as in f-eye)
Step 4: Practice the sound in Words
Once your child has mastered saying the sound in syllables (with about 80% accuracy). You can move onto practicing /f/ in words. It is best to practice the sound in initial word position (Ex. fan), then final word position (Ex. cough). Usually, the production will generalize in medial word position (Ex. coffee), but if not then work on this position last. Check out this fantastic set of cards that include pictures of words with /f/ in initial, medial, and final word positions.
These cards can be used in so many ways to help your child with the /f/ sound. Let your child pick a game of his choice and before he gets to take a turn in the game have him label five cards using his good /f/ sound. Another idea is to hide cards around the house and as your child finds each one have him label it. Whatever you chose to do with the cards, make sure the activity is motivating for your child.
Also, check out the digital book Muffin the Fish written by a speech-language pathologist. This short and sweet book contains many /f/ sounds in all word positions.The book can be read on a Kindle, or another device with the Kindle App. This book is under $3 and is a super cute way to practice the /f/ sound with your child. The book can be used as an auditory bombardment activity where you read the story for your child and emphasize the /f/ sound. You can also have your child repeat the /f/ words in the story to practice his own production.
Step 5: Practice in Phrases and Sentences
Once your child has mastered producing /f/ in different word positions, you can have him practice the words in short sentences. You can once again use the “F” Sound Card Deck. However, this time, have your child create a sentence with the cards. For example, “I see a fish” or “A fire is hot”.
Step 6: Monitor Sound in Conversation
Now your child is ready to produce the /f/ sound in conversation. Monitor if he is using the correct production of /f/. If he is not, you can remind him that you heard him say /f/ the old way and ask him to try the word again the new way. You don’t want to make your child feel bad or discourage him from talking. Be careful when you correct your child about his errors.
Remember, if you have concerns about your child’s speech skills, reach out to a licensed speech language pathologist.