"Saving" face ... and learning not to give up

"Daddy didn't save," my daughter told me when I asked about her morning.

"What did he not save?" I asked.

"No, SAVE. Daddy didn't save," she repeated.

The look on my face obviously told her I still didn't understand.

She sighed, looked down at the floor for a few seconds, then looked back at me and said, "No, he didn't SAVE HIS FACE," as she made a motion around her chin.

Now I was really confused, but just as I was asking her, "He didn't save ... his face?" it sunk in that what she was telling me was that he didn't shave.

For the most part, my daughter speaks just fine for a 3-year-old. It's just the darn "sh" and "th" sounds that trip her up. Her "sh" always sounds like just an "s," but the "th," depending on the word, can sound like either an "f" or a "d." She asks, for instance, if she can go "wiff" (instead of with) me to the store, but will point to "dat" (instead of that) toy.

Until recently, I've let it go, confident that she'll get it right in her own time. But ever since a day a few weeks ago when, out of the blue, I decided to see if I could talk her through pronouncing the "th," I've been wondering if I should be doing more to encourage her.

After she used the word "wiff," I said to her, "Say, 'wiTH'?" (extra oomph on the "th")

She looked at me for a few seconds, then said, "I can't make that sound."

I was taken aback that she had declared herself unable to pronounce it without even trying one time. I still believe that one day, even if I never work with her on the "sh" and "th" sounds, she'll get it right, but I decided I wasn't going to let her keep thinking she can't.

"Sure you can," I said, and then repeated the word, and yet again, she seemed reluctant to try. For the most part, I could tell she was more interested in getting back to her toys than she was in speech lessons, but I didn't want her to give up. 

So I told her repeatedly that yes, she can make that sound, as I walked her through how to pronounce it, and after about three or four minutes, she finally made the "th" sound ... once. She's got a ways to go before it becomes part of her regular speech. But at least now, she knows she can.

And as a mom, all I can do is hope that it's a lesson that carries over into other things she might otherwise think she can't do.


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