With a little practice, your child can learn to talk in a low voice.

How to Teach Kids to Use Quiet Voices

by Bridget Coila

It's adorable when your child gets excited about something, but when that little voice continues to get louder and louder, it can grate on even the most patient parent's nerves. Teaching your child how to use his inside voice helps teach other important things, too, including self-control and how to judge what is or isn't appropriate behavior. Using positive reinforcement instead of punishment will make it easier for your child to learn how to use his quiet voice.

1 Teach by example. Avoid using a loud voice indoors, including when you're calling a family member from across the house or arguing with the newscaster on TV.

2 Play a whispering game when you and your child are both calm so that he can learn what a quiet voice sounds like. Try taking turns talking as low as you can. Reward your child with a sticker or other prize for his success at talking quietly.

3 Encourage yelling and shouting in appropriate places, such as when you are outside at the playground or in the backyard. This can help your child learn that a loud voice is appropriate for some situations, even if it isn't appropriate indoors. If he thinks he can safely get loud occasionally, he won't mind keeping quiet at other times quite as much.

4 Avoid giving positive reinforcement for yelling or screaming indoors. If your child throws a tantrum and gets loud, ignore the request or plea for attention. Tell him you will only give him what he wants if he lowers his voice; then follow through if he asks in a quiet way.

5 Move your child to a scream-friendly location if he starts to use his outdoor voice inside. Bringing him out into the backyard whenever he gets too loud can help him associate loud behavior with being outdoors, which also helps him associate being indoors with quiet talking.

6 Keep in mind that a toddler or preschooler may become emotionally overloaded and unable to calm down quickly. His still-developing brain may not be able to switch gears right away. If you're dealing with a complete meltdown, it may be best to take your child somewhere quiet until he has worked through his outburst. You can discuss using inside and outside voices once he has gotten his brain back on an even keel.

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