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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Marge, M.S. CCC-SLP

Top 3 Speech Therapy Tips to Help Your Child Say Big, Multisyllabic Words

Updated: May 2, 2023

Youtube and Tiktok are full of cute videos showing young children mispronouncing big, multisyllabic words such as “spaghetti”, “happiness” and “animal”. When a child is very young, it can be adorable, but children with speech, language, and learning difficulties can have a very hard time saying these words even as they get older. Here are the top 3 tips for helping your child say big, multisyllabic words:

  1. Say each syllable slowly and carefully from the beginning of the word. “An-i-mal”. This is the most common strategy and can work for some children, but not others. This is the strategy you see most often in Youtube and Tiktok videos where, even when the person breaks down the word from the beginning, the child may still say it the same way. The key to doing it correctly is to say each syllable slowly to give the child time to process the syllables.

  2. Say each syllable carefully, working backwards through the word. “mal”, “ni-mal”, “an-ni-mal”. This is a powerful strategy that works very well for many children. You may have to repeat the process several times for the child to be able to master the word.

  3. Find a part of the word that relates to a word they know. This helps a child find an articulation plan for the word. For example, many children say “thermoneter” instead of “thermometer”. I often tell children that it has the word “mom” in the middle and that they can remind themselves of how to say it because, many times, your mom takes your temperature.

So the next time your child is having difficulty with a big word, try these strategies to find which one may work best for your child. Once the child can say the word, have them repeat it correctly at least 5 times to promote future word retrieval of the correct pattern. Mispronouncing multisyllabic words can be adorable when a child is young but if a child is older, it may be indicative of a larger speech production or language processing issue.

If you have concerns about your child’s ability to speak clearly, contact a licensed speech-language pathologist certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association for a consultation or evaluation.

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