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4 year old having troubles with Ls and Rs?

My son will be 5 in March and still has troubles with his Ls and Rs. I didn't even realize it was wrong until my husband's dad made fun of him. I thought it was perfectly normal for children to have problems with speech at this age. Now, I am not so sure. Does your 4 year old have any speech impediments? How do you try to fix it?

My daughters name is Lily and my son pronounces it "Ye ye". I stop him and show him how I say it. I say it really slow so he can see my tongue touch the back of my teeth and how my mouth forms to say the word. If I slow him down and remind him to say it right, he tries and it sounds much better, but still not as well as it could be. That is the only thing I know to do..slow him down and have him repeat it until he says it correctly. He gets frustrated with me and himself, though. Any other ideas or tips on how to fix it?


Asked by LilMae.N.MDJr at 10:18 AM on Dec. 19, 2008 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (10)
  • If the majority of what he says is understood by others, there probably isn't enough to qualify for speech, but you could always have him evaluated.

    What our therapist does is model the correct sound and have him repeat...make it a game. Read a book with a lot of "l" sounds in it...pick a word to have him say at the turn of each page. Start with the sound at the beginning of the word, when he picks that up, try the middle then the end of the word. Light....yellow....ball Simple words.

    Play board games and have a word there to repeat...for instance for the letter "s" they do a matching game. If they have a match the word is "yessssssssss" if not the word is "missssssss" stretching out the sound.

    The sheet she gave me says r, l and s are EMERGING at age to have difficulty isn't unusual at 4. They should be spoken by age 6.

    Answer by TiccledBlue at 12:15 PM on Dec. 19, 2008

  • My son said lellow for yellow and gagrage for garage until he was about that old. He wouldn't say Blues Clues, came out as Clues Clues but he could say blue and clue well alone. I think just reminding him as you are is the best way to do it. It almost sounds like laziness and not an impediment if he can do it when corrected. However, you may want to take him to a speech therapist anyway. I have a friend that had a shortened membrane in her tongue so she couldn't pronounce certain words. Her tongue wouldn't allow for it.

    Answer by Mom1Stepmom1 at 10:23 AM on Dec. 19, 2008

  • Speech class will help.I did them when I was young.I had trouble with r's and s's.Which turns out I have a lisp stupid people.It helped though my lisp ain't noticeable.He'll get there!Rolling my r's is how they tought me.

    Answer by T.A.B.mommy at 10:23 AM on Dec. 19, 2008

  • Having him repeat it is what I would suggest. Basically what you're doing. It'll take time for him to get it right. Be patient and try not to make him feel like he's doing something really wrong.

    My son had a similar problem. His speech is still a little off (he's 7) but at least people can understand him. And now when I correct him he repeats after me and does pretty well.

    If you're really concerned you can always have him tested by a speech therapist. My insurance covered ours.

    Answer by amethystrse at 10:25 AM on Dec. 19, 2008

  • Tongue tied! My 4 year old has what is called a tight frenulum ( the little piece of skin that is under you tongue that holds it down is too short ) We didn't realize that was what it was until my new baby was born and I experienced the same latch problems! We will be taking our 4 year old to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist at the beginning of the new year. What they did with our new born was just clip it on the sides to help him to be able to move his tongue! Bled probably two drops and he was fine!

    Answer by MamaRoberts at 11:39 AM on Dec. 19, 2008

  • Concentrate on the sounds of letters at on words later...

    Answer by TiccledBlue at 12:16 PM on Dec. 19, 2008

  • There's a fun CD of exercises you might consider called Speechercise.

    Answer by kaycee14 at 2:55 PM on Dec. 19, 2008

  • I have a good amount of classmates who were in speech therapy when we were in elementary school- worked great for them.

    Answer by sfwilson at 3:19 PM on Dec. 19, 2008

  • I had trouble with my "r"s for the longest time. Also "L"s and "S"s. I was in speech classes throughout elementry school. I still slip up now and then, but I always catch myself and correct it.

    My classes were fun. The teacher had a mirror and showed the proper way to place the tongue, etc. Then we had sentences and pracitce words. I would have a list of words to take home to practice with my parents. Some of the games were me having to think up the words. I just remember it was fun.

    Answer by ferdo0204 at 5:02 PM on Dec. 19, 2008

  • I spent awhile looking up 4 and 5 year old speech the other night, as my son will be 5 in April.
    Your kiddo is totally normal. If you're concerned, though, talk to his doctor or the school he'll be attending about getting him evaluated.

    Answer by RanaAurora at 7:45 PM on Dec. 19, 2008