Model Good Speech

Talk Back to Your Kids!

Modeling back is a powerful way to help children learn speech sounds and use good grammar. 

For Speech Sounds:

When your child says a word and “misses” a sound say the word back in a very positive way placing emphasis on the sound that they had problems with. Place emphasis by saying the sound a bit louder, longer, and by tapping your finger on the side of your mouth or pointing to your mouth when you say the missed sound. If they said, “The tat is nice” you could say, “Yes, that is a very nice cat  I like cats.  I think the cat likes you.” When you repeat the word you are adding power to the modeling.  Don’t repeat the sound more than once in the word. Don’t say “CCCat”. 

Of course you would never want to correct your child in a way that would make them feel bad about how they are talking. Saying, “No that’s not the right sound. Say it this way, say cat.”, can make your child feel bad about their talking especially if it is still hard for them to make the sound correctly. 

Once your child has gotten fairly good at saying the sounds, you could draw their attention to problem sounds a bit more by asking if they heard the right sound when they say a word and by asking them to say it again. If he tried to say “spoon” and it came out “poon”, you could say, “Hmmm, I didn’t hear the S sound, did you?  Can you ‘fix’ that?” Make sure to also point out and celebrate times when your child says the sounds right. Especially praise times when your child goes back and “fixes” sounds on his own. Fixing sounds on their own is a huge step.

If your child has trouble with more than one sound it is often best to focus on only one sound at a time. Try focusing on a sound for a day or a week and then move on to the next. Let everyone know what sound you are working on – Sound of the Day/Week.

For Grammar:

Use the same modeling idea of going back and saying words and sentences over in a very positive way, placing emphasis on words that were not correct. For grammar place emphasis by saying the word a bit louder and by repeating it. If you child said “Him is nice” you could say “Yes he is nice.  He is fun to play with.”  If appropriate have your child repeat what you said using the correct grammar.  This adds even more power. 

If you child has lots of difficulty with grammar, focus on certain grammar words for a few days or a week and then move on to others.  

Model back and ask for corrections as much as you can but remember to balance this with your child’s frustration level and with being a good listener. Sometimes it isn’t appropriate to “talk back” – just be there to listen.

Sometimes modeling back is all children need, sometimes they need more. If you want to work on speech sounds I have Therapy Programs for most of the common sound errors.  If you are not seeing progress with grammar you should contact a speech-language pathologist for more help.  

Let me know if you have any questions.  I can be reached at

Madison Garvi – SLPatHome