Correcting Children’s Speech

When your child mispronounces words and sounds should you correct them? Most language experts say “no”.

As adults, it’s often tempting to correct our young children when their speech isn’t perfect. However we need to remind ourselves that learning language takes years, and mixing up the meanings and uses of words is just a part of the learning process. In fact, many experts feel that by continually correcting our children’s speech we could actually be delaying its development. The late Dr. William Fowler, author of “Talking From Infancy” felt that “it‘s rarely advisable or necessary to correct a child’s speech. A lot of errors are intrinsic to the learning process. For example, a child will use a regular word ending for a regular verb and say “goed” instead of “went”. Don’t correct those things. Put everything in a positive supportive framework model instead. No one wants to be judged, least of all children.”

But what about children who continually mispronounce words? Dr. Fowler said that  it’s really no cause for alarm because in today’s world “we no longer have the notion of standard English in dealing with children’s development. Language is so colloquial, so different with the mixes of cultures these days that it’s probably inadvisable to worry about pronunciation. “

So rather than telling your child that they’re saying something incorrectly, just repeat the word thereby modeling it’s correct use.

Finally, while language development includes a few bumps along the way, listen to your intuition. If it’s telling you that something is not quite right, then check this out with your child’s doctor who can arrange for an assessment by a speech and language pathologist.


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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