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Should You Correct Your Child's Speech?

Updated: May 15


should I correct my child's speech, image of a father and child
It's okay to correct your child's speech but indirectly.

If your child has unclear speech, you've likely wondered, "Should I correct my child's speech?" It's perfectly fine to correct your child's speech, but it's best done indirectly.


In this post, we'll share valuable tips about how best to correct to your child's speech and nurture their speech development.



How to Indirectly Correct Your Child's Speech


Give a good model

If your child makes a speech sound error when saying a word, try not to directly tell them that they have made an error. Avoid saying things such as "No, that's not right, say that again ... don't say TAR, say CAR." Instead, give a good model by repeating the word and emphasising the correct speech sound with your voice by making it a bit longer. Try to repeat the word a few times in short phrases.

father and child playing with a car, father indirectly correcting child's speech
Model the correct speech sound production in words

Child: "Tar".

Father: "Car".

Father: "Yes, it is a car."

Father: "A red car."


Modelling a word is usually most effective when you do it repetitively (see examples above of how you could model the word 'car').


Your child may need to hear you saying the word many times before they begin to say it correctly, but don't despair.


When you give your child a good model, they are listening to the correct pronunciation. You are indirectly correcting them but they are not under any pressure to repeat the word. They therefore won't feel as though they have done something wrong and lose confidence when speaking.


Additional Ways to Support Your Child's Speech


Avoid Mimicking Your Toddler's Speech Errors

While it might be cute to imitate your toddler’s mispronunciations, doing so can reinforce the errors due to their brain’s focus on repetition and pattern recognition.


Additionally, mimicking their speech might embarrass or frustrate them. Toddlers often hear more sounds than they can articulate and may already be aware that their pronunciation isn't correct.


Have conversations in a context

supporting children with speech sound difficulties - talk during playtime and everyday routines
Set the context with playtime and everyday activities

When your child is talking about something in the here and now, it will usually be much easier to know what your they are saying. Playtime can provide lots of opportunities for this. There are also lots of everyday activities that can provide context such as bath time, doing laundry, getting ready for bed. Having more conversations in context will also give you more opportunities to model target words clearly for your child.


Comment More, Question Less

How would you feel if you were asked tons of questions including questions the other person knows the answer to? It would probably make your feel under pressure, less interested and more reluctant to talk. It's the same for children, especially children who have speech sound difficulties.


While you may be tempted to ask your child lots of questions, it really is best to reduce questioning and to instead make comments about what your child is doing during an activity.


When you make comments, you are showing an interest in what your child is doing and you are not placing them under any pressure to talk. In fact, your child will probably begin to talk more. Another benefit to making comments is that your child is hearing you say the words correctly. It is not realistic to completely avoid questions so a good aim is to make four comments for every question that you ask.


Use Alternative Communication Methods

Sometimes, you have no idea what your child has said. If this happens, reassure your child that it is okay. You could tell them "I don't fully understand but it's okay." Then encourage them to show you by pointing or taking you to what they are talking about.


If your child does show you what they mean, give them a good model by saying the words you didn't understand e.g. "Oh you want your school bag". Again emphasise the correct speech sounds when you say the words.


Establish Context and Seek Clarification Positively

Sometimes, you just won't know the topic of what your child is talking about as they will naturally tell you things that are not in context/not happening in the here and now. It can help to establish the topic of what your child is talking about. Ask them yes/no questions about what they are telling you, e.g., "Are you telling me about something in the room? Are you telling me about something at playschool?" Once you've understood what your child has said, repeat it back to them so that they hear the words being spoken correctly and they know you have understood.


Conclusion

With patience and these simple approaches, you can enhance your child's speech development and boost their confidence in communication. Remember, if concerns persist, consulting with a speech-language therapist is advisable.


Found these tips useful? Share your experiences below, and don't hesitate to reach out for further guidance on your child's speech journey.






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