It's pretty ironic that a kid would be afraid of loud noises. After all, a jumbo jet sounds positively minute when compared to a toddler having a meltdown in the mall. But alas, some little ones simply can't handle loud and sudden sounds. While the behavior might be inconvenient--especially when you really, really need to vacuum--there are some quick fixes that can teach your child about noises and how to cope. Now if you could only teach strangers to ignore your bawling babe at the grocery store...
Label the sound your child is hearing so he's not scared by the unknown. If you notice him getting apprehensive at the sound of a siren, talk about firefighters, what they do and why they need a loud siren for work. As you help your child understand the reason behind loud noises, they're less mysterious and scary.
Allow your child to see and touch the sources of loud noises before they start making their sounds. For instance, if the vacuum has your little one running scared, unplug the machine and let him explore for a bit. Point out the different parts and get used to the machine before slipping the "on" switch. If he's daring, you might even ask him to help vacuum to normalize the sound.
Give a heads up before you know a loud noise is coming. If your child is prepped for a starting sound, he might not be as jumpy when he hears a blender, a loud sneeze or the sound of a noisy train.
Play with loud toys and games on a regular basis. If your child is the catalyst for noises, he might become more used to hearing them. Grab some pots and pans to bang on or fill a jar with rice to make your own noisy band at home to show your child that loud noises can be fun.
Offer coping tools when the loud noise is something completely new. For instance, if you're flying and you know the sound of the plane engine will upset your child, invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or plug into an episode of Dora once you're cleared for electronic use. If it's a once-in-a-while sound, it's OK for your child to be scared. Don't force him out of his comfort zone if it's unnecessary.
Hold your child to offer security and comfort when loud noises scare him. He'll probably feel a bit braver if your arms are wrapped around him during a fireworks show or while checking out an uber-noisy movie.