The Importance of the Tone of Voice in Preschool Children

By Susan Revermann
Eye contact, physical contact and tone are all nonverbal communication skills.
Eye contact, physical contact and tone are all nonverbal communication skills.

According to the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Health and Community Services, tone of voice, body language and facial expressions communicate more than the words that are spoken. To teach your preschooler these important social skills, you need to explain each aspect of tone of voice and then provide examples to solidify the lesson. Introducing these skills to your child now can set a strong foundation for good communication.

Nonverbal Communication

Tone of voice is just one form of nonverbal communication that can help repeat, accent or complement the words the speaker is using. According to a web page on the website of Andrews University, this form of communication sends a message without using words and can be intentional or unintentional. In addition to tone of voice, touch, eye contact, physical gestures, proximity and posture are included in this category. Teaching your child about nonverbal communication, including tone of voice, and how to use it properly can help him get his point across properly, and let the listener feel comfortable and worthwhile. Improper deliver can lead to conflict, hurt feelings or frustration.


When it comes to a preschooler, his volume can range from a whisper to a yell. He might not often realize that his volume is inappropriate for the setting and you'll have to offer gentle reminders to get him back on track. For instance, you can teach your preschooler about “indoor voices” and “outdoor voices.” An indoor voice is the volume you use when talking to someone inside, reading a book out loud or a whisper, while outdoor voices can be louder. Explain that using outdoor voices while inside can hurt someone’s ears, prevent others from hearing each other and can distract the listener from what he is trying to say.


To fully understand tone of voice, you need to include a lesson on the feeling of his words. In other words, the amount of warmth he puts into what he says. Explain that the way he says his words can affect how someone feels. A soft, kind tone of voice can make a person feel safe, secure, cared for and happy. A cold, harsh tone can make someone feel hurt, self-conscious or unwanted.

Facial Expressions and Body Language

Although tone of voice is a vital part of nonverbal communication, so is facial expressions and body language -- these three go hand-in-hand. You need to explain to your preschooler that his face and body have to match what he wants his words to say, otherwise someone might get the wrong impression, not understand him or not believe his words. Demonstrate several different scenarios for your child to solidify this lesson. For instance, you can say “I like your shirt” with a smile on your face and a shoulder squeeze, then you can say it with a scowl and a little head shake, and then finish with a grumpy voice and crossed arms. Ask him whether he sees the difference and how he felt for each of those scenarios.