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Helping your child develop their speech sounds

A speech sound error is when a child mispronounces a word. They may either miss off a sound or replace it with another sound. For example,


Child says: “It’s a tat” (instead of it’s a cat)



Child says: “I want to go on the wing” (instead of swing)

The following strategies can help support your child’s speech sound development.

Model back the correct speech

  • Provide a good speech model for your child to learn from
  • If they say a word incorrectly, say the word back to them correctly but in a light-hearted way, for example,

Child says: “It a tock!”


Adult says: “That’s right, it’s a sock!”

  • Do not ask your child to repeat the word at this point as it is likely they will just repeat the inaccurate pronunciation and this will reinforce the incorrect speech pattern

Repeat the correct production

  • Try and repeat the correct production of the word a few times

Adult says : “It’s a blue sock”, “I’ve got black socks on”,  “Where is your other sock?”, “I like your blue socks”.

  • It is helpful for children to ‘see’ the sound as well as hear the sounds and words so try and ensure your child is looking at your mouth when you remodel any words

Reduce the number of questions you ask

  • Comment on pictures and talk about books and events using short, clear sentences, rather than asking your child to simply label items as this will enable your child to hear the correct model of the word

Slow down

  • Slow down your own rate of speech as this will encourage your child to speak more slowly

Give Choices

  • Use choices to find out the context of what your child is saying, for example,

“Are you talking about nursery or home?”


“Did it happen outside? Or when you were painting?”

Build confidence

  • Try not to draw too much attention to your child’s speech difficulties
  • Show your child you are interested in what they are saying and not how they are saying it
  • Do not pretend to understand your child if you do not
  • If you cannot understand what your child is trying to tell you, ask them to repeat it, without blaming them, for example,

“My ears aren’t very good today and I didn’t hear that. Can you say it again for me?”

  • Encourage your child to ‘tell’ you another way, for example, by pointing, miming, drawing, or using different words
  • Praise your child for the non-speech things that they do well, for example:

“You are really good at……” jigsaws, tidying up, running fast etc

Additional resources and information

This is a guide to the typical stages of speech and language development in babies, children and young people: https://ican.org.uk/i-cans-talking-point/parents/ages-and-stages/

This video is part of the Weekend Words series. It explains and demonstrates the strategy of remodelling speech productions.

Contact us

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

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Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

Resource number: SL13

Resource Type: Article

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