How To Teach The P Sound To Toddlers by Chicago Speech Therapists Connect

One of the first sounds your child should be able to master is the /p/ sound. The /p/ sound falls under the “plosives” category of speech sounds. Like similar sounds (/b/, /t/, /k/) the /p/ sound is produced by the release of built up air pressure. The production of this sound is quick, non-lingering and highly visual, meaning it can be easily imitated by your child. If you notice that your child is unable to imitate or incorporate this sound into his or her vocal communication by the age of 2, professional help is advised.

How should it be taught?

Again, the /p/ sound is one of the most easily imitated of the basic speech sounds, which is why it’s a great choice for a first speech lesson with your child. Try making this sound for your child while they watch you. Let them see the explosive movement of your lips as the air pressure exists through them. If necessary, feel free to exaggerate these movements during the first few demonstrations, so your child knows exactly which parts of his or her mouth should be moving and making the sound.

For an even more visual teaching device, hold a tissue in front of your face. When the air is released from your mouth during production of the /p/ sound, direct it towards the tissue so it will move or “dance” with the air. Encourage your child to make the tissue do the same thing. This will help make articulation drills feel less like work for your child, and more like a game—alleviating much of the pressure.

Next Steps

Once your child is stimulable—meaning he or she is able to directly imitate the /p/ sound when you make it—it’s time to push their skill and confidence level. Start by incorporating the /p/ sound into syllables.

It’s best to begin with syllables that start with the /p/ sound (“Pooh, pa, pee, pa”). When your child is comfortable making these basic syllabic sounds, try moving up to some more advanced drills—ones that end with the /p/ sound, rather than begin with it. “Ape, ipe, ap, and epe” are all useful in developing your child’s ability to properly make the /p/ sound.

If you feel your child has near mastered this sound, the final steps would be to first try practicing the /p/ sound within multiple syllables or even short words. “Ippo, appa, uppoo and ooppee” are all great sounds to practice with.

Words and sentences including the /p/ should follow depending on the rate of your child’s mastery of the most basic of /p/-inclusive syllables.

TIP: As your child begins to incorporate the /p/ sound into his or her speech and conversation, don’t be afraid to correct mispronunciations. As long as you maintain a positive tone and continue to praise your child’s progress and accomplishments, error correction will continue to be an important part of his or her learning process.

If you are concerned with your child’s speech or language development, please contact Chicago Speech Therapy by clicking on the “Contact Karen” button on the upper right section of this page. Your online inquiry should be responded to within 30 minutes.

Karen George is a Chicago speech-language pathologist. Karen is a founding member and the current leader of Chicago Speech Therapists Connect, a group of Chicago-area speech-language pathologists. As of Jan 2012, the Chicago Speech Therapists group contained over 400 members. The private pediatric speech therapy practice Karen founded, Chicago Speech Therapy, LLC, provides in-home pediatric speech therapy in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Karen and her team of Chicago speech therapists have a reputation for ultra-effective speech therapy and work with a variety of speech disorders. Karen is the author of several books such as A Parent’s Guide to Speech and Language Milestones, A Parent’s Guide to Articulation, A Parent’s Guide to Speech Delay, A Parent’s Guide to Stuttering Therapy, and A Parent’s Guide to Pediatric Feeding Therapy. She is often asked to speak and has addressed audiences at Children’s Memorial and Northwestern University. Karen is highly referred by many Chicago-area Pediatricians and elite schools.

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