speech therapist Fort Myers
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.
Speech and language skills are critical to a child’s ability to learn and interact in the world around them. When speech-language delays are identified and treated right away, there are exponential benefits for their social-emotional and academic growth. The early years are the most important for building strong speech and language skills. In this stage, your child’s brain is growing extremely fast in the first five years of life. During this window, kids are more open to learning than they’ll ever. To minimize the long-term negative impacts of a speech-language delay or disorder, our Fort Myers speech therapy team recommends early intervention – starting before age 3, if possible.
Communication is one of the most critical developmental tasks of early childhood development. It’s the way children start to form their understanding of the world. When a child has trouble communicating (being understood and/or understanding others), it can hinder their ability and confidence to express their ideas and observations of the world around them.
Kids who struggle with communication in earlier stages of development may struggle with:
- Low frustration tolerance.
- Emotional outbursts.
- Excessive shyness.
They may also appear less academically advanced than their peers. That’s because reading, writing, and verbal assertions are essential to the learning process. The foundation for these skills starts very early – from birth. Your child may be too young yet for school, but if you notice they aren’t on pace with their peers in terms of speech and language skills, it’s a good idea to act promptly. The sooner you can address it, the less chance they’ll fall too far behind academically.
Also by the time kids get to school, their speech and language delays or difficulties may become markedly obvious, sometimes even to them. This realization can be a blow to their confidence, leading to lower class participation and performance. The earlier they can start working on it with a licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP), the less the deficit is going to impact them later on.
A child’s inability to express themselves or understand what’s being expressed to them has an undeniable negative impact on their ability to fully enjoy and participate in daily life. The earlier we can intervene with speech therapy, the less difficulty they’ll have as they get older.
Our Fort Myers speech therapy team has many strategies to help children learn important speech and language skills.
So much of it is creating opportunities and encouraging practice in a fun, play-based atmosphere. Some examples include:
- Putting things just out of reach, to encourage the child to ask for it.
- Provide only part of a game to play with, and encourage them to ask for other pieces.
- Pretend to be forgetful. Let the child “catch us” being forgetful or getting an answer wrong – the love to be helpful so we can get it right!
- Pause during an activity that is predictable. It could be singing a favorite song or game and just pause. This encourages them to retrieve and use their vocabulary.