TH Words for Kids. How to Help Your Child at Home
Many children have a hard time pronouncing their TH sounds correctly. Our speech therapist specializing in articulation will review this typical speech error and what you should know to assist your child master this sound correctly. And these TH words for kids can help.
What is the Wrong Way to Pronounce TH” Words
A child who pronounces the TH sound incorrectly may replace it with an “f” or “d” sound. Here are some examples that may sound familiar as you say them out loud:
- “Them” is pronounced as “dem”: I saw dem yesterday.
- “Think” is pronounced as “fink”: I fink you are nice.
Age at Which Children Master the “Th” Sound
Age of acquisition of any sound is variable. Children will be able to say the voiceless TH between 4.5 – 7 years old, and the voiced TH sound between 5 – 8 years old.
Children may only be able to say this sound accurately when they are older but it is recommended to monitor this as they enter kindergarten. Otherwise a screening or an evaluation with a speech therapist may be warranted.
Saying ‘TH’ Sounds Correctly
There are actually two types of TH sounds. They are called “voiced” and “voiceless” which basically means that with one, your vocal chords are vibrating, and with the other they are not. If you put your hand gently on your neck while you say a “voiced” or “voiceless” TH word, you will know which is which.
The “voiceless” TH sound also allows more air to leave the mouth when produced (because the vocal folds are not partially blocking the way). Paying attention to these details can actually be very interesting!
So the only difference between the two types of TH sounds is the vibration of the vocal folds. For both types, the tongue sticks out a bit between the top and bottom teeth in the front.
Here are some voiceless TH words:
Here are some voiceless TH words:
Practice the TH Sound
It’s important to start slow and easy when teaching your child the TH sound and advance gently as their skills grow in more complicated situations. The start of the standard sequence speech therapists employ to teach the TH sound is outlined here, along with some practice suggestions and strategies. To move ahead, make sure your child is about 90% correct with what they’re working on before going on to the next level. This will guarantee that what you are working on is not too challenging for your child and that they stay motivated.
Start with the TH Sound Alone
The good thing about the TH sound as opposed to others (like the “R” sound) is that it is easier to visualize and show your child how to do it. You can show them how to put your tongue between the front teeth and blow air out. Model this and ask your child to imitate you only in producing the sound. Practice both the “voiced” and “voiceless” versions and notice that one is quieter than the other.
Teach TH Sound in Words
If your child is accurate in saying the TH sound with about 80% accuracy, you can practice TH words for kids. You should keep the list of TH words for kids simple, again so that they stay motivated.
You can practice the TH sound with an activity that your child enjoys. Try card games, board games or even movement games like “Red Light, Green Light” in which your child practices the words between turns in the game. The point is to keep it fun so it won’t feel like work!
Here is a list of some TH words for kids. We’ve chosen some of the simplest ones to start out with. We recommend practicing at least three times per week so that your child can become familiar with the right way to pronounce the sound and will get used to practicing.
Then Move on to Phrases and Sentences
It’s appropriate to move on to phrases and sentences after your child can say TH words with 90% accuracy, both voiceless and voiced. Some children may be able to correctly pronounce a word when it is used alone, but not when it is used in the middle of a sentence, so this step is an important one.
A fun way to practice the phrases and sentences is to have your child retell a story they have heard you tell them. They don’t need to read, just recall the story itself. The book “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” has a lot of TH words for kids in it. Even the title has a lot! Here is a short list:
- voiced TH: there, the, other, brother, then
- unvoiced TH:three, think, thinner, mouthful, with
You can borrow the book or watch the story retell by video here.
The TH Sound in Conversation
Your child may be ready to practice the TH sounds in conversation when saying short sentences or phrases becomes easy. At first, ask remind them that you will be paying attention to how they produce the TH sound and that should also self monitor. Discuss a movie you just watched, or how their day was and note how natural they sound. When they are done, ask them to self assess. Soon you will be able to have discussions without reminders about the TH should This is when the skill has generalized.
Your child will become increasingly self-sufficient when they use words with the TH should as a result of this. The goal has been achieved.
Tips for “TH” Production
When you are practicing these TH words for kids, you can use these additional tips to help increase the likelihood they will do better.
A Mirror Helps
Using a mirror can help your child with making the TH sound. You can use it to show your child how they are positioning the parts of their mouth before and after you give them a correct model. Then have them follow your lead and pronounce the sound correctly. Let them look in the mirror again when you want them to correct it or see themselves saying it correctly.
You and your child can play an audio-visual discrimination game. You can produce the sound or word and your child can watch you and listen to you make the sound. They can pay attention to your mouth and listen to what it sounds like. Your child can make a determination as to how accurately you are pronouncing the TH sound.
Therapy Works Together – Online Speech Therapy for Children and Adults
We care about every child and adult achieving their speech, language and communication goals. You can start speech therapy online now with a certified speech language therapist. We’ll discuss your personal needs, develop an individualized treatment plan, and schedule affordable online therapy sessions online at your convenience.