When it comes to conditions involving your child's mouth and tongue, one of the most obvious to spot is a lisp. Lisps actually come in two flavors — interdental, which is the lisp you probably think of when you hear the word (which involves a child producing a "th" where an "s" or "z" sound should be) and lateral (which is where the air escapes out the side when producing an "s" or "z" sound).
But when your child is in speech therapy, no matter the type of lisp, it can be easy for their mental health to suffer as they attempt to rid themselves of this lisp. So, if you have a child working to correct their lisp and are wondering what you can do to improve their mental health during their treatment, then here's what you need to know.
Reward the small steps
This is especially important for children that have several different sounds they can't produce ("r", "s", "j", "ch", "sh", and "z" are relatively common for lateral lisps, for example), but applies to children only working on one sound: reward the little milestones.
Rewarding your child for their hard work — and it is hard, hard work — is important in both motivating them to keep working and for delivering much-needed praise for a child who's struggling. Notice and appreciate when they produce sounds correctly, and you're sure to hear more and more correct phonemes as time goes on.
Recognize that it's not their fault
There's not really a way to predict what child will develop a lisp and what child won't, any more than you can just tell your child to stop lisping and have it magically fixed. Your child isn't choosing to have this problem, especially since it's a problem that can provoke frustration and anger within your child and teasing from those around them.
When frustration or anger occurs — from either you or your child — it's a good idea to step back and remind both of you that it's no one's fault and that they're not to blame for having this struggle.
Remind them that it will get better
Sometimes, you won't be able to 100% cure a lisp — it can still come out in moments of intense stress or when speaking too quickly, even after the lisp seems to be gone for months or even years. But there will come a day, with enough effort, where your child will be able to speak "normally" a vast majority of the time — so you need to make sure to remind your child of this fact.
It can be easy for a child to get a bit down or even a little hopeless, especially if they're not making as much progress as quickly as they want to or if the other children tease them because of their lisp. Reminding your child that it will, indeed, get better, can help not only to bolster their hope but also help them to reinvest themselves into retraining their mouth.
For more information, contact a medical office like Eastern Carolina Ear Nose & Throat-Head.