Teach Kids To Use Inside Voices

Turning DOWN the Kid Volume

Small boy talking to his mother
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Have you ever noticed how most kids have a voice pitch of "loud" and "louder?" Why is it that kids, especially toddlers, seem to equate loudness with getting heard?. A quick listen in any setting that involves kids (some grownups never seem to learn this volume control either), will send your poor, sensitive ears in overdrive. Kids often shriek, stomp, and well, "talk" is screechy tones that border on shouts ...

and sometimes do so from the moment they rise until they fall fast asleep. No wonder we adults become tone-deaf! If your kids fall victim to "loud, louder, loudest" talking, it's time to turn down the volume and actually teach the art of what is often aptly named "the inside voice."

Make it a game

Ask your child how many eyes and ears they have. When they answer "two," explain that we all have two voices as well. Explain to your child that we have one great big voice that is used for outside and another smaller, softer voice that is used for inside. Try out different voice with your child and let them answer whether the voice is an "outside voice" or an "inside voice."

Use a Soft Voice Yourself

Practice the tried-and-true advice child experts also recommend when administering discipline: when trying to calm or "ssshhh" your child, speak calmly, quietly, and with a soft demeanor. If a kid isn't quiet and attentive, he will be unable to hear what you say.

If your child is escalating with noise or seems to be spiraling out of control, calm him down by being calm and quiet yourself. Ask all your caregivers to be consistent when teaching indoor voices. Consistency between caregivers is key when teaching behaviors.

Use Repetition

Frequently repeat that you are using your inside voice (assuming you are indoors), and that this is the appropriate speech volume and tone to use at any time when you are in a house, building of any kind, or any facility.

You can also tell kids that they can use their "outside voices" (within reason) when they're outdoors, on the playground, or other "hoot and holler" appropriate times.

Praise Indoor Voices

To help reinforce differences, praise kids for their appropriate indoor voices, offer incentives like taking them to the local library when they have achieved voice control, and then surprise them with a visit to a park or outdoor walk and be the first to let out some playful "hoots" of your own!

Updated by Jill Ceder

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