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Yes, you can. "Lisping" is a lay term that describes the way a child mispronounces words. Typically, it refers to the s sound being produced like a th sound. So a sentence such as "My sister is 7" sounds like "My thithter ith theven." While the s sound is normally produced with the tongue behind the top teeth, a child who lisps pushes his tongue out.
If your child's s sounds this way, don't worry. This happens with many children, and most will outgrow it by age 7 with no intervention at all. Pointing out that he's lisping won't help your child stop and may harm his self-esteem. And although you won't always be able to protect him from teasing, there are a few things you can do to help your little one combat his lisp:
• Treat any allergy, cold, or sinus problems so your child can breathe with his lips together and through his nose. An open-mouth breathing posture causes the tongue to lie flat and protrude. Work on nose blowing, too, as a stuffy nose is often the culprit.
• Keep your child's fingers out of his mouth as much as possible, since thumb-sucking can contribute to a lisp. It's not an easy task to help your child quit sucking his thumb, though. Target the times he's most likely to suck his thumb, such as when he's watching TV or riding in the car, and substitute another comforting activity, such as playing with a favorite toy or puzzle.
• Steer clear of pacifiers and baby bottles. Switch to a cup without a sippy top if you haven't already done so. While sippy cups cut down on spills, they don't promote good oral-motor strength, which is important in speech development. Using a straw is a good exercise that does promote good oral-motor strength since you're using your lips instead of putting pressure on your teeth.
• Take your child to the dentist if one of his baby teeth is accidentally knocked out, and have it replaced with a fake tooth. That will stop your child's tongue from poking through the gap where his tooth should be — a habit that can hinder his speech development and one that's hard to correct after his adult teeth come in around age 7.
• Encourage play activities that improve oral-motor strength. Have your child blow into a party horn with a small round mouthpiece. This is a good exercise because the effort needed to make a solid sound also strengthens the lips and cheek muscles, and tends to push the tongue back in. Blowing bubbles is another option.