‘th’ is a long blowy sound. It is a sound that often develops later for your child, typically around 6 years of age. Before 6 years of age, it is normal for your child to change the ‘th’ sound to an easier sound, such as ‘f’. For example, a child may say “fumb” for thumb.
You can help your child say the ‘th’ sound by trying the following strategies:
- model and repeat words that have the ‘th’ sound, for example ‘thanks, thing, bath’
- use a mirror and model the correct placement – encourage them to move their tongue between their teeth and gently blow air out
- make sure you give your child lots of praise for trying the ‘th’ sound – it can be tricky!
- If you child is having trouble saying ‘th’, it might be helpful to focus on them hearing the correct productions by you modelling the correct production of ‘th’ in a range of words.
- Once your child is having success, you can encourage them to turn their voice on and make it a buzzy ‘th’ sound to make words such as ‘this, that, they’.
Activity ideas for practicing ‘th’
- find items around the house that have the ‘th’ sound e.g. toothbrush, thumb, big things/small things
- practice counting, focusing on three, thirteen, thirty to thirty-nine
It will take time and practice for children to develop their speech sounds. Children may be able to say a sound on its own but will take time to put it into words. Longer words will be trickier. It will take time and practice to be able to say their new sound in everyday conversation.
Some words are more complex because they have harder sounds, multiple sounds or different combinations of sounds.