Your child 3-5 years

Zozotement: what to do?


Zozotement, also called lisp, is the most commonplace of pronunciation defects. It is commonly said that the child has a hair on the tongue. "Do not go hungry", this baby language will soften you, but if it persists, it may be useful to consult a specialist.

Why he zozote

  • It's because of his language. As he does to suck his thumb, your apprentice speaker instinctively advances his tongue between the incisors when he pronounces the "s" and "z" sounds. Result, it emits only one sound: the "z". Since "ch" and "j" are difficult to pronounce, it can also replace them with "s" and "z", projecting its language - too large - forward. It is only during growth that it will lodge more easily by retreating behind the incisors.
  • It can also be the fault of his thumb, his pacifier, his blanket ... or all he sucks diligently! hence two consequences ...:
  • - Dental deformities, a hollow more marked at the level of the palace, which interfere with a good pronunciation. Orthodontists are well aware of the problem since they pair many old zozotors around the age of 10-12!
  • -Preserved primary swallowing, the one he practices while sucking, and which can cause dental deformities.
  • Usually around the age of 6, the child goes into secondary swallowing: the jaws tighten, the tongue recedes and pushes saliva or food into the esophagus.

How to help?

Isolated zozotement is likely to heal naturally. It is useless to intervene before 5 years. Therefore…

  • Avoid at all costs to make him repeat bad words. Why ? He will make excessive efforts, crisper his tongue, and zozotement may intensify.
  • Discuss. Sometimes, a zozotement which persists reveals a small psychological concern: your child thus testifies his desire to remain baby as long as possible. Listen to him, and leave the problem of speech aside. If possible, try to make him give up (gently!) The thumb or pacifier sucking. If he is not ready, postpone the experiment.

When to see the speech therapist

  • At 5 years, if zozotement is still there, the speech therapist will practice a review of language and offer you a reeducation of several sessions. At this time of life, your child is very eager to communicate and can feel frustrated if he does not always make himself understood. These speech therapy sessions aim to correct the articulatory disorder. At the same time, the specialist can give you some exercises to help you acquire the agility of your language.
  • Speech therapy sessions establish a relationship of exchange between your child and his interlocutor. Better it is quality. If not, do not hesitate to change specialists. It's hard to predict how many sessions your zozoteur will need. Count about twenty interviews of half an hour each, once or twice a week (the Social Security supports part, the rest will be by the mutual).

Some examples of games to make at home

  • To strengthen his tongue and his lips, invent games of grimaces: to draw the tongue, to bite the lips, to make the noise of the kiss. These exercises are performed facing a mirror a few minutes a day, at the time of brushing teeth for example.
  • Look for words containing "s" (fir, lemon, cushion), "z" (house, pink) "ch" (chocolate, pocket) of "j" (garden, red) and ask him to classify them by phonetic families.
  • Make guessing games, prepare a list of similar words: hat, castle, fish, poison, etc. and draw them. In turn, one of the players gives a definition and the others guess what word it is by designating the corresponding image.
  • Use and abuse songs and nursery rhymes. Some of them are specially designed to put a sound forward.

Maryse Damiens, with the collaboration of Mazy Varraud, speech therapist and co-author of the book L'Apprenti parler, ed. Marabout.