Svetlana Atenzon 2 min read

S-Sound Help For Kids: Treating a Lisp

Help your child with their lisp to make the S-sound. What a lisp is, why it happens, and what you can do at home to help your child speak more clearly.

It’s been estimated that as many as 23% of us have had a lisp – mispronunciation of sounds like “S,” or “Z” – at one time in our lives. It’s possible that children struggling with a lisp will grow out of it on their own. But there are many adults who have found that their lisp has come and gone throughout their life, or suddenly reappeared as an adult, after having previously cleared up as a child. In all of these cases, a speech therapist can help.

In the video attached, and in this article, I will show you how you can teach your child to make the S sound.

What is a Lisp?

Some kiddos have trouble making the S sound because they have a lisp. A lisp, in simplest terms, is the sound or air distortion that occurs when producing the “Sss,” “Shh,” “Ch,” and “Z” sounds.

Did you know there are two types of lisps: frontal and lateral?

It’s true, there are different types of lisps, or air distortions, that may be affecting you or your child. The are frontal and lateral.

  1. Frontal lisp – the most common type of lisp. With this disorder, the tongue moves past the teeth. This causes the sound to come out as a “Thh” sound.
  2. Lateral lisp – the second most common type. With a lateral lisp, the air will escape from the sides of the tongue and the mouth.
Speech therapy for child and adult

The first step in fixing a lisp is to develop the correct tongue placement.

The three sounds – “Sss,” “Zip,” and “Ship” require the same tongue placement. The tip of the tongue needs to be right behind the teeth.

Illustration of a mouth making the Sss sound
Tongue behind teeth, which are together

And the rest of the tongue needs to press against the roof of the mouth. The teeth lock together like a gate to prevent the tongue from escaping.

What if the lisp is from missing teeth?

Yes, some kids might be missing some of their teeth and the tongue can still escape from that little hole. Teaching them the correct tongue placement for when their teeth return is still possible. In this case, just focus, keeping the tongue back and pressing against the roof of the mouth. Try out some words that start and end with these sounds to see how the child is producing them. As they say the words, have them feel out where their tongue is going.

Boy practicing Ss sound missing front teeth
Lisp from missing teeth

Remember that for all three sounds, sip, zip, and ship, the tip of the tongue needs to be behind the teeth. And the rest of the tongue is pressed against the roof of the mouth. So if your child is making part of, or one of the sounds correctly, you can carry over that skill to the other sounds.

If you have any questions, you can schedule a free consultation to find out how better speech can help you and your child.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive more videos with tips and instructions from our speech language experts.