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Speech sounds and pronunciation

little girl pronouncing the letter "R"

Key points:

  1. Children may have difficulty pronouncing certain sounds as they develop their language skills.
  2. Most children learn to pronounce all word sounds correctly by the time they turn 8 years old.
  3. Some of the difficult sounds to master include L, S, R, Ch, Sh, Th.
  4. If a child is having trouble pronouncing certain sounds, it can be frustrating for them, and it’s important to try to figure out what they are trying to say and be a good role model for clear speech.

As children develop their language skills, they learn how to pronounce different sounds. Some of those are harder than others, and it’s normal for little kids to have difficulty saying certain words correctly.


Speech develops over time and with a lot of practice! That’s part of the whole process. So, if you notice your little one is having trouble pronouncing a specific sound, there’s probably nothing to worry about. Most children learn to pronounce all word sounds correctly by the time they turn 8 years old (so there’s still a lot of time for your little one to get it right!).

It may be harder for you to understand what your child is saying if they’re having trouble pronouncing certain phonemes (the particular sounds that make up words). Commonly, some of the difficult sounds to master are:

  • L
  • S
  • R
  • Ch
  • Sh
  • Th

It’s common for children to swap sounds in words that contain sounds they can’t pronounce. For example, your little one might say “wed” instead of “red” or “dea” instead of “tea”. This can make it difficult for you or others to understand what they are trying to say and that, in turn, can be very frustrating for your child. Try your best to figure out what they’re trying to say and don’t correct them every time –they’ll get even more frustrated and maybe become reluctant to speak later on. The best thing you can do is be a good role model: speak slowly and clearly, so that your little one can learn by listening to you.

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