How to Use Your “Inside Voice”
Kids have two volumes: quiet and loud. For most children, loud wins out more often than quiet. That might not be a problem if you’re on the playground or taking a walk at the park, but when you’re confined to your apartment, an outdoor voice sounds exponentially louder. Teaching your kids to keep it down can be trying (and tricky), but it’s not impossible. We’ve compiled some tips for getting your youngsters to use their indoor voices, so check it out if you’re having volume problems at home:
- Explain it in their terms. For many kids, using an indoor voice is difficult simply because they don’t really understand why they need to do it. Try to put it in terms that your child will understand. For instance, ask them if it’s hard to focus on coloring or a game when a friend is speaking too loudly. If they answer yes, then explain that when they’re too loud, you have a hard time focusing, too. Revisit this question as often as you need to.
- Offer gentle reminders. Children tend to get louder and louder the more excited they get, so don’t reprimand them for having fun. Instead, word your reminders in a positive way. Try something along the lines of, “Remember to use your indoor voice when we’re inside,” or “I know you’re excited, but we should still speak a little bit softer since we aren’t playing outdoors.”
- Demonstrate. If your little one isn’t quite old enough to understand the concept of “loud” and “soft” without further explanation, give them a demonstration. Speak in hushed tones and then have them follow your lead. Then demonstrate a loud voice and have them try that out, too. Whenever you need them to bring the volume down, remind them of the practice. Ask them to talk the way you did when you were doing a “quiet” voice. You can make the process a little bit more fun by having them practice silly phrases in a quiet voice or read a sentence from their favorite book as softly as they can.
- Give positive reinforcement. When children do remember to use their indoor voices, make sure you notice and give them a high-five. You can also simply commend them for a job well done by saying, “Good work!” or “I really appreciate what a good indoor voice you’re using.” If your child responds better to some kind of reinforcement system, like stickers or another reward, you might want to consider putting “used indoor voice” on the rewards chart at home.
- Head outdoors. It’s important for children to understand the concept of the inside voice not only for the sake of your eardrums at home, but also for when they go to school and friends’ houses. However, it’s also necessary for them to understand that there’s an appropriate environment for shouting, too. Reward your little one for proper use of the inside voice by taking them to the playground and letting him shout his little lungs out while he runs around. Remind him that this is a good example of a place to use an outside voice—but you wouldn’t need the same volume to speak at home.
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