When will my kids know how to say all their sounds?

Ever wondered when your two year old says ‘tup’ for ‘cup’…is that normal? Or when your eight year old says ‘fank you’ instead of ‘thank you’? We all have a bit of a giggle when the character Barry Kripke, from The Big Bang Theory talks but for kids, at what age is that normal and at what age should we be concerned?

Just like many skills in life, children learn how to say speech sounds correctly in a developmental sequence.

How do speech sounds develop?

Here is a guide to how children’s speech usually develops. Speech development may vary across languages. These norms are based on a study by which 75% of the Australian children in the study pronounced individual consonants accurately (Kilminster and Laird, 1978).

speech development in years with reference

What can I do if my child can’t say some sounds?

Show your child that you are interested in what they say, not how they say it. Help your child to learn how to say tricky sounds by repeating them correctly as naturally as possible.

Top Tips for Good Speech Sounds:

  1. Show and stress: Highlight the sound you want them to listen to. Say it louder but be careful not to drag out the sound too much as it doesn’t sound naturalistic. Show them how to make the sound by telling them to look at your mouth. For older children, you can show them by telling them where their lips, teeth, tongue, etc need to go and what they need to do. For example, for /s/: teeth together, tongue behind your teeth and smile. Let the air come out of your mouth.
  2. Model and repair: If your child says “It’s a big!” instead of “It’s a pig”, acknowledge what they have said and provide a model of the correct way to say the sounds e.g. “Ah yes, it’s a pig!”. By repeating what the child has said you are producing a good language model and you are also showing that you have listened to what the child has said
  3. Specific Praise: If you have been practising a sound with your child, give them specific praise when they have been trying hard or has produced the sound correctly. Rather than saying ‘good boy/girl’, you can say ‘Wow, that was a great /g/ sound when you said ‘girl’. That way, your child understands why they are being praised.

If you have concerns regarding your child’s speech production, consult a speech pathologist in your local area. You can find one a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist here.

For more about speech sound development, check out our other blog posts:

The SoundPLAY activity in our book boxes help your child to tune in to sounds in words, a very important skill for early literacy. See our full range of book boxes and subscriptions here.

Thanks for hearing our call,

Your Little Birdies