Fort Myers Speech Therapist Tips for Kids Who Struggle With “Inside Voices”
How many times a day are you admonishing your child to please use their “inside voice”? As a Fort Myers speech therapist, I love it when kids are engaged and excited to participate in a conversation! That said, I also recognize that sometimes our little friends can get a bit TOO lively – and loud – for the situation.
The reality is all kids frequently yell, stomp, shriek, use screechy or whiny tones – and for all kinds of reasons.
Teaching kids how to control their volume – and practice using “inside voices” – is important because there are many real-life situations that require it.
Learning how and when to adjust voice volume is a life skill – one that may be particularly tough to grasp for kids with social communication deficits.
As a Fort Myers speech therapist, the goal isn’t just to teach kids how to communicate, but how to do so pragmatically, or in a way that is socially accepted and beneficial. That means teaching the “inside voice” (quieter) versus the “outside voice” (louder) is key.
Understanding Reasons Behind Voice Volume
The first step in addressing voice volume issues is understanding WHY kids are speaking loudly. Sometimes, they may feel they need to do so to get attention. They often don’t realize how loud they are actually being. And they also probably don’t understand that in certain spaces, they’re required to use a lower volume, and that failing to do so can have a negative impact on others in that space. (And for kids who are not neurotypical, it may take them more than a few reminders to remember.)
The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) reports that it’s only between ages 4 and 5 that kids start talking differently in different settings and with different people. As a Fort Myers speech therapist, I recognize it as a speech development milestone that ultimately paves the way for them to recognize almost instantly whether this a place is one where people are using “inside voices” or “outside voices.”
Talk About Voice Volume With Your Kids
The first step to helping your child know what noise level is expected in a given setting and/or with different people is to TALK about it. That means not only telling them what is expected, but also why.
- “In the library, we use inside voices so we don’t distract people from the books they’re reading.”
- “At church, we use inside voices so everyone can hear the pastor [and/or] to show respect for the sermon.”
- “On the plane, we use our inside voice so that we don’t bother our neighbors sitting nearby.”
- “On the playground, we use our outside voices so that we can be sure our friends/babysitter/parent can hear us.”
Using quieter voices may be a sign of awareness, respect, or self-control, and when we use louder voices when it’s not expected, it can cause distraction, upset, or irritation for those around us.
A Fort Myers Speech Therapist Will Model Inside Voice
In speech therapy, we do more than just tell kids to use their inside voice – we show them how. That starts by being a role model, using inside voices when we’re talking to directly to someone in front of us or answering the phone or talking to a parent.
Parents can help by modeling this in everyday life – on the phone, at the store, at school, etc. You can even turn to them on occasion and say, “See – I’m using my inside voice because we’re in an office building.”
Even when administering correction/discipline, try to focus on speaking calmy, gently – and quietly. This provides a model of how to speak with an inside voice – even if you’re upset. (It also means that THEY need to be quiet with their own voice if they’re going to hear you, which can serve to de-escalate an emotionally-charged situation.)
Note, however: If your child is in the midst of a meltdown, not much you say about voice volume is going to get through. This is not the time/place to effectively teach the lesson. In the event of a complete meltdown, remove your child from the situation and let them work through their feelings. You can initiate the discussion of voice volume/disruption only once they have calmed down.
If you have questions about teaching your child the difference between inside/outside voices, a Fort Myers speech therapist can help.
FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
Frequently Asked Questions About Voice Therapy, American Speech-Language Hearing Association
More Blog Entries:
Fort Myers Speech Therapists Teach Social Communication to Neurodivergent Kids, July 22, 2022, FOCUS Therapy Speech Therapist Blog