Speech is one of the developmental milestones that many parents often worry about. Often I get questions about whether it’s OK that children are mispronouncing certain sounds. The good news is that it’s very common for children to have trouble with a few of the sounds of normal speech.
You usually see this with consonants – think of all the kids you’ve heard substitute a “w” sound for an “r” sound. Other commonly substituted (or troublesome) sounds are “f” in place of “th” (fanksgiving) and “th” in place of “s” (what we commonly call a lisp).
The vast majority of these little defects will go away with a tincture of time and there is no need to correct or force your child to try to correct the sound. It’s a good idea to discuss any speech concerns you may have about your child with her physician, but in my experience, I have rarely seen these minor speech problems persist.
If a child reaches early school age, however, and there is some concern that the sounds aren’t straightening out, a speech therapist would be able to help. What is more concerning is when whole parts of words are missing or if a child only says the first part of a word and fails to “close” or complete the word. You should contact a speech therapist if you start hearing this occur.
I remember that for the longest time my son said his “s” sound like a “th”. Now that he is older, his speech is completely normal and I find a little part of me misses the “lisp” – probably because I fondly associate it with those younger years.