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How to Eliminate Gliding in Speech Therapy

When children learn how to talk, they usually go through a phase where they simplify the sounds in words. This is called a phonological process. Gliding is one of the most common phonological processes. It occurs when a child substitutes a sound in a word with another sound that is similar. While it may be cute when your toddler says "I wuv you," gliding can become a problem if it persists beyond the expected ages of 6 to 7 years of age and negatively impacts a child's ability to be understood. Here's how to eliminate gliding in speech therapy.

In this article we will discuss:

Child with a Gliding Phonological Process

What is Gliding?

Gliding is a phonological process in which a child substitutes a sound in a word with another sound that is easier. For example, the sounds /r/ and /l/ is substituted with the sound / w/. So "ring" would be said as "wing" and "light" would be said as "wight". Gliding usually occurs with the following sounds: /r/ and /l/.

Why Do Children Glide Their Sounds?

Children glide their sounds because it is easier for them to say the word that way. They are not doing it on purpose. They just have not learned how to make the correct sound yet. These are called phonological processes.

Phonological processes are speech sound errors that occur in patterns. The presence of phonological processes are considered to be developmentally appropriate depending on age. Some examples of phonological processes include fronting (saying /t/ for /k/, like "top" for "cop"), backing (saying /k/ for /t/, like "cot" for "top"), and cluster reduction (leaving out a sound in the beginning or end of a word, like saying "nana" for "banana").

Eliminate the gliding phonological process

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Do Children Outgrow Phonological Processes?

Some children outgrow phonological processes between the ages of 5 to 7 years old, depending on the process. This is because they learn how to make the correct sound as they are exposed to more correct productions and they themselves have more opportunities for practicing the sound in their everyday speech. However, some children's use of phonological processes may continue as they enter their school aged years, which negatively impacts their ability to be understood by their peers, family, and friends.

Gliding is typically eliminated between the ages of 5 and 7 years. Usually, the L and the R sounds are the most difficult for children to learn. This is why the gliding of these sounds is common in young children.

When Should I Worry About Gliding?

You should worry about gliding if your child is still doing it after he or she has turned six years old. If your child is still gliding his or her sounds at this age, it is likely that he or she will have difficulty learning to produce this sound correctly without the assistance of a licensed speech language pathologist.

Phonological processes also become concerning if the use of them is significantly impacting their ability to be understood by others. When the presence of gliding in a child's speech impacts their quality of life, for example, their confidence to engage with others or causes frustration when unable to be understood- it is time to pursue toddler speech therapy.

It will highly affect a child's speech intelligibility if phonological processes are not corrected at an early stage. Speech intelligibility is the clarity of speech. If a child's speech is not clear, people will not be able to understand what he or she is saying. This can lead to frustration and social isolation.

Child raising a hand during class

How to Identify Gliding

The first step to eliminating gliding is to identify when it's happening. If you're not sure whether your child is gliding or not, ask your child's speech-language pathologist (SLP). They will be able to assess your child and give you a definite answer.

A speech therapist can help your child in the following ways:

  • SLPs are licensed a qualified in performing informal and formal testing to identify the presence of phonological processes in your child's speech.

  • They will be able to provide evidenced based therapy to treat your child by teaching him or her how to make the sound correctly.

  • They will be able to give you activities to do at home to help promote generalization of skills across settings so you can see and maintain progress!

  • They will be able to provide you with resources and materials that will help your child learn the correct way to produce his or her sounds.

If you think your child may have a speech disorder it is advisable to seek out services from a licensed and credentialed SLP. The earlier a child receives treatment, the more likely he or she is to outgrow the disorder.

How to Eliminate Gliding

Once you've identified that your child is indeed gliding, there are a few things you can do to help eliminate it.

Practice the sound in isolation

First, try having them practice the sound they're having trouble with in isolation. For example, if they're having trouble with the /r/ sound, have them practice saying the sound during pretend play like a pirate "arrrrr" or like a dog growl "rrrr rrrr". If the child is older, try focusing on tongue placement being tight, up, and back so they can feel the base of their tongue touching their back molars.

Exposure to the sound in words

Another thing you can do is to expose your child to these target words through games, reading, and activities! Reading books that have /r/ naturally embedded like "The Rainbow Fish", coloring with a "red" crayon, or going on a scavenger hunt in your home for items that begin with "r" are all great ways to practice your sounds!

Praise correct production

Finally, make sure to provide lots of praise and positive reinforcement when your child is producing the sound correctly. This will encourage them to keep up the good work!

Techniques for Gliding Speech Therapy

If your child is still having trouble eliminating gliding after trying the techniques described above, you may want to consider speech therapy. Speech therapy is a type of intervention that helps children with difficulties related to speech, language, and communication. This type of therapy can be provided by speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Gliding speech therapy can offer many methods of eliminating the process.

Visual cues for gliding

Speech therapy can also involve the use of props and visual aids. For example, an SLP may use a mirror to help a child see what his or her mouth is doing while producing sounds. This can be very helpful in terms of eliminating gliding.

Minimal pairs can help eliminate gliding.

Minimal pairs are another common speech therapy technique that can be used to help eliminate gliding. This involves using two words that differ by only one sound. For example, the words "rat" and "what" differ by only one sound (/r/ and /w/). By having a child say these words in contrast, they can begin to hear and understand the differences in the way their articulators move and the way the word sounds.

Child having online speech therapy services

Apps and Materials You Can Use at Home

If you're looking for ways to help your child at home, there are a few different apps and materials you can use.


The Lingraphica app is designed specifically for people with speech disorders. It includes a variety of games and activities that can help with the production of specific sounds, including /r/.

Word Vault App

The Word Vault App includes over 1,000 words that contain the /r/ sound. This can be a helpful resource for practicing at home.

Articulation Station Pro

Articulation Station Pro is an app that includes a variety of games and activities for practicing specific sounds, including /r/. It includes over 1,000 words that contain the sound in isolation, word, and sentences. Not only that, it includes numerous activities and games for your child to be entertained.

Speech Blubs

Speech Blubs is an app that includes a variety of fun and interactive activities for practicing specific sounds, including /r/. It also includes a number of video models to help your child see how the sound should be produced.

At Better Speech we know you deserve speech therapy that works. We have experts in your needs and assign the right therapist, not just the therapist that happens to be in your area. Gliding can be difficult, but with the right support, your child can learn to lead a happy and successful life. At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child's individual needs. Our services are affordable and effective - get Better Speech now.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the phonological process of gliding?

Gliding is a common phonological process in which a child might replace an /r/ or a /l/ with a /w/ or /y/ sound. So for example, a child might say 'wed' instead of 'red'. It is referred to as such because /w/ and /y/ sounds are often considered gliding or liquid sounds, and they are sometimes utilized in place of more difficult phonemes for simplification until a child's speech mechanisms become mature enough to produce sounds like /r/ and /l/.

At what age does gliding disappear?

Is gliding an articulation disorder?


About the Author

Mikee Larrazabal

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.

I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.



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