Teaching the “SH” sound may seem a little daunting at first, but I think you will find that with these tips and suggestions it isn’t so bad. In fact, our little ones that struggle with the SH sound in words may have no difficulty at all saying the sound in isolation (all by itself). The fastest way to test for the accuracy of this sound in isolation is to have your child hold their finger to their lips to say “shhhh”. If your child can say the SH sound then your ready to practice the SH sound in syllables. If your child struggles with producing the SH sound clearly don’t worry, we can teach them.
There are a few different ways of teaching the SH sound. You may want to begin with phonetic placement, which is when you teach the child how to position his/her tongue, jaw, lips and teeth for a good production of the target sound. Or, you may try shaping the sound from another sound. Shaping is when you use a sound the child can already say accurately to teach a sound they are not able to say.
A few simple steps to teach the child where to place his/her tongue, jaw, lips and teeth for a good SH sound include:
- Have your child part his/her lips slightly
- Then touch your child’s tongue with a tongue depressor or his/her toothbrush just behind the tip of the tongue. Have him/her place the part of the tongue just touched on the roof of the mouth just behind the “bumpy part.”
- Next, have the child lower his/her tongue just a little. You may need to use a tongue depressor or popsicle stick to help your child lower it slightly.
- Finally, have your child hold this position, pucker his lips and breathe out through his mouth.
Provided your child has the oral motor capabilities and cognitive ability to follow these instructions this should produce a nice SH sound.
If your child can produce a good /s/ sound or a good “ee” sound we can shape/teach the SH sound starting from one of these sounds.
SH from /s/
- Have your child say /s/ (ssssssssss).
- While you child is saying the /s/ sound have them pucker their lips slightly and move their tongue back slowly until you hear a good SH sound.
SH from “ee”
- Have your child say “ee.” Then have them say “ee” in a whisper with no voice.
- While whispering the “ee” sound have your child move their lips into a pucker position. This should result in a SH sound.
Moving the SH Sound into Words, Syllables, Sentences and Conversation
Now that your child can say the SH sound follow the steps from the post on the Process of Articulation for moving that sound from isolation (saying the sound all by itself), to syllables, to words, to sentences and finally conversation.
You may also download an SH rotating sentence in the initial, medial and final positions. A rotating sentence is when the sentence stays the same, except for one word that changes. For example, the sentence may be, “Shave the _______ with shears.” The idea is that you can rotate all the word cards you have been practicing at the word level through one sentence. It would look like this, “Shave the shower with shears.” Or, “Shave the sheep with shears.” In this example you can see that sometimes the sentence will make sense and sometimes it will not. The important thing is that the child is able to memorize the sentence, which allows for independent production of the target sound at the sentence level regardless of the child’s age or reading ability. The other benefit to practicing the sound using a rotating sentence is that you can target language at the same time. The child may say, “You can’t shave a shower!” Or, “That’s silly.” At this point you may just agree or open it up for discussion. “Why can’t you shave a shower?”
Finally you may also download simple SH stories targeting the initial, medial and final sound positions. Each story has pictures that allow children of all reading abilities to practice and retell the story independently. Older children also benefit from specifically targeting the SH sound while reading a book of their choice aloud. This gives the child lots of practice in a concentrated setting.
After your child can produce the SH sound with about 80% accuracy at the word level, sentence level, and at the story level, you are ready to move it into conversation. By this time your child is well aware of how to produce the sound accurately and has the ability to produce it in conversation. The difficulty that may remain is adapting a habitual pattern. Patiently make your child aware when errors are made in conversation. He or she will be able to fix them and move on.
Please keep in mind that these are basic techniques (as is the case for most of the articles on Mommy Speech Therapy) to get you started in the right direction in helping your child with the SH sound. If you feel your child has other issues which may be affecting his/her speech, please contact a Speech Language Pathologist in your area that will be able to work with you to be sure your child receives the best treatment and/or therapy possible.
As always, I hope this post will be helpful in supporting your children to speak more clearly and help build their the confidence in their language and communication.
Remember to be patient and to have fun while practicing these tips with your little ones. Best of Luck!