Knowing your child has a speech problem, and knowing how to treat it are two different scenarios that can be quite intimidating. With a few pointers and assessments, you’ll be on the path to therapy and away from the anguish of speech problems.
It’s quite easy for parents to lose track of time as their children grow. Balancing all the variables in life is no walk in the park, and sometimes we forget to take the time to slow down and take time to explore issues that may have been brushed over. Many parents are told by friends and family that their child’s speech problems are just temporary setbacks, and their child will outgrow them shortly. As a parent you are the most knowledgeable of your child. If you feel something isn’t right, then follow that intuition and take your child to their pediatrician or a speech language pathologist for further information. Early diagnosis is key to correcting all speech problems, so it is important to follow your gut on this one.
The longer a child continues to mispronounce words, or speak with under developed articulation, the longer it will take to treat the speech problem. As humans we are creatures of habit, and it’s important to use this knowledge of patterns to aid in progression, instead of allowing it to halt or deter development.
Once the problem is identified, you can focus your energy on the task directly. It’s important to remember that the best way to teach a child how to speak is similar to the way you eat an elephant: one bite at a time. Breaking things down into smaller pieces makes it more digestible. Go over sounds and parts of words with your child. For example, if your child has a lisp, spend time showing him or her the way your tongue sits against your teeth when you make an “S” sound. Then tell your child, “now it’s your turn,” and create a mirror game with them. Use repetition and praise to help them retain the lesson. When they progress, try using the sound in a word, like “sssss…nake.” Keeping focus on the sounds and not the entire word, will enable the child process the information correctly.
Playing games and allowing children to learn in a trusting atmosphere will encourage them to experiment with sounds. Positive reinforcement and permission to make mistakes is vital to a child’s willingness to learn. When your child makes a sound correctly, don’t forget to praise him or her. Ask your child to show another family member or friend to reinforce his or her success.
Working with a speech therapist can help you to assess and find simple ways to teach your child how to overcome his or her mispronunciation. They can be an invaluable resource with the knowledge and previous experience treating other children with speech problems. What may work for some, may not for others, so it’s best to go over all options with your child to give him or her the best chance at success.