How to Keep Your Child’s Voice Healthy
A child who yells, screams, talks in a noisy environment, or does an excessive amount of crying, laughing, singing, cheering, coughing, throat clearing, or loud talking, may be risking the health of his or her voice. These vocal abusive behaviors often cause hoarseness in children. Continual vocal abuse may lead to swelling and thickening of the vocal folds, which in turn may lead to vocal nodules (callous-like growths on the vocal folds). The child’s voice may become hoarse, breathy, or lower in pitch. Hoarseness in children may also be due to medical conditions such as allergies, sinus infections, or colds. If your child is hoarse for more than 10 days but shows no other signs of allergies or upper respiratory infection, take your child to an ENT. Voice therapy may be necessary following any medical treatment. Voice therapy is aimed at identifying the child’s vocal behaviors that contributed to the nodules, and then reducing or eliminating them. Vocal nodules can be prevented by practicing healthy voice habits.
To prevent voice problems, your child could…
Reduce the amount of talking, singing, coughing, or throat clearing, especially
during episodes of upper respiratory infection or allergies.
Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day and limit dairy products.
Turn down the volume on televisions, radios, and computer games.
Stop yelling and screaming; use nonverbal methods to show excitement or get attention (i.e., clapping, walking upstairs/downstairs).
Move close to another person before talking and rest the voice throughout the day.
Avoid using the voice to make special effect noises when playing with toy vehicles.
As a parent, you could…
Tell your child you can only “hear” when he or she uses a quite “indoor” voice, without whispering, then respond only after he or she speaks in a quiet volume.
Be a good voice model for your child; use a calm, comfortable loudness level.
Encourage your child to drink plenty of water.
Set up a calm, quiet, restful “break” area (i.e., tent, closet) and encourage your child
to go there and calm down rather than yelling in the house.
Eliminate background noise so your child does not have to speak loudly to be heard.
Teach your child to find quieter ways to get someone’s attention (tapping on shoulder).