I will start with the disclaimer that the information contained in this post is only meant as a guide and should not take the place of advice from a professional who has actually evaluated your child, it is only meant as a starting place.
There are certain sounds that A LOT of kids have trouble saying. You know the ones: /k/ “I want a tootie” (I want a cookie)
/f/ “Did you see that biretruck?” (Did you see that fire truck)
/th/ “I am so “firsty” (I am so thirsty)
/s/ “the thun is yellow” (He sun is yellow)
/r/ “He thwew the wock” (He threw the rock)
It may be that your child only has one sound that he/she has difficulty producing and it might be that she is at a point where she is extremely stimuable for that sound. If that is the case, with proper cueing you might be able to show your child how to produce that sound.
The first thing to note is whether or not the sound your child is struggling with is developmentally appropriate. If your child is 4 and calling a “truck a “twuck” because he substitutes /w/ for /r/, it is developmentally appropriate and is not anything to worry about yet. But if your child is 4 and is talking about your pet dog and “tat” (cat), the /k/ sound would be expected by age 3 and so it would be a sound that could be worked on. You can reference the Articulation Development link here to see what sounds are expected to develop at what age.
If you determine that the sound that your child is producing incorrectly is a sound that is developmentally appropriate, then you can try the following cues to try to elicit the sound:
|Sound||Age by which sound is expected||Cueing Strategy|
|/k/||3||Open your mouth up make a cough sound /k/ /k//k/.|
|/f/||3||Bite your lower lip and let air out.|
|/s/||5||Make the “t” sound. Now make the “t” sound again, keeping your tongue in the same place, but this time try to stretch out the sound “tsssss”.|
|/th/ voiceless (as in thumb)||*7 : Even though 7 is the developmental age, I find that because this sound is so visible often kids are stimuable for it by age 5 or 6.||Stick your tongue out, bite down lightly, and let the air out.|
|*/r/||6||Smile. Hold the /l/ sound. Now, keeping your molars together, pull your tongue backwards along the roof of your mouth as if licking marshmallow fluff from the roof of your mouth until you hear and /r/ sound pop out.|
“R” is complicated: First of all one can’t SEE how it is produced, and because of the tongue placement, it is also really hard to FEEL how it is produced. Not only that, but depending on the context of the /r/, meaning where it is in the word and what sounds are around it, its actual production changes. For that reason, it is usually not a sound that usually falls into the “quick fix” category.
If your child is easily stimuable for the sound in question, you can start practicing it at the beginnings of syllables or words. Sometimes, as your child is just learning the sound they might need to put a small break between the sound and the rest of the word as it might be difficult for them to blend it right away (F-ish).
If you find that your child has several speech sound errors, or is not immediately responsive the quick fix cues, don’t despair. It just means that your child needs a little different path to the fix. Find a speech-language pathologist who can evaluate your child’s speech and create a treatment plan that is tailor made to your child’s needs.