My 5-yr-old grandson has an excellent vocabulary, great sense of humor, and understands concepts quickly and readily. One of the areas he has challenges in is verbal word pronunciation. This generally calls for work with a speech therapist.

As a voice coach, I have had a number of clients who have had articulation issues that I have been able to creatively correct and transform quite successfully. My grandson and I have a marvelous and trusting relationship, so he has been willing to allow me to work with him on some of his sounds. His biggest hurdle is pronouncing “C’s” as “T’s” and “G’s” as “D’s.” So “Cookie” would be “Tookie,” and “Golf” would be “Dolf.” I have given him some simple actions to perform with his mouth that physically help him make the correct sounds without thinking too hard.

For example, when he has to make a “C” sound, I’ve taught him to do a little “cough.” At first he felt it was a hassle, and he didn’t want to take the time to do it. I kept lightly encouraging him with an upbeat tone of voice each time his mispronunciation occurred. I didn’t push it or overwork it. “No big deal, Buddy!” It eventually became a fun little game; especially when he got quick and enthusiastic praise from me each time he got it right.

Then he was getting it right more and more often. It became easier for him to correct. It was delightful to watch him go back and repeat a phrase on his own, stop at the targeted word, concentrate, do a little cough, and nail the word perfectly. He would look at me with the cutest little grin, as if to say, “How about that, Grandpa? I know what to do and how to do it!”

Wikipedia states: “In psychology, the four stages of competence, or the ‘conscious competence’ learning model, relates to the psychological states involved in the process of progressing from incompetence to competence in a skill.”

UNCONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE —Unaware of the deficit of a skill. You don’t know what you don’t know.
CONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE —Recognition of the lack of a skill, and the importance of its conscious acquisition.
CONSCIOUS COMPETENCE—Conscious awareness of and application of a skill. The individual understands or knows how to do something, but it usually requires concentration to execute the skill.
UNCONSCIOUS COMPETENCE—The skill has become “‘second nature’ and can be performed easily.”

My grandson’s passage from Unconscious Incompetence to Conscious Incompetence to Conscious Competence was steady and gratifying. He will soon be in the Unconscious Competence arena, and on to other challenges to conquer.

Ralph Waldo Emerson has given us this wise counsel: “That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself becomes easier, but that our ability to perform has improved.”

Be encouraged to approach your skill developments in life from this perspective. It will be a fulfilling process.