How to Teach Your Child to Whisper
When toddlers or preschoolers are excited or angry, their voices are often comparable to a megaphone in a church sanctuary. Even when the child acquires the skill of whispering, heightened emotions cause the whisper to carry for what seems like miles in an inappropriate situation like a library, a movie theatre or prayer meeting. Sometimes, the embarrassment gives you fantasies of using duct tape as a sound barrier for that mouth, but savvy parents don’t have to resort to this measure.
Listen to your child when she speaks and look at her directly. Often, children feel like tiny nonentities in a giant world. They believe only a loud voice garners attention. This becomes a habit, particularly if the adults in their life are regularly distracted or don’t look as if they are listening attentively. You may be an expert at multitasking, but your child may feel you are ignoring her if you aren’t looking directly into her eyes.
Talk to your child about indoor and outdoor voices. Explain that in some situations, like church, a library, a movie theater and in a room with a sleeping infant, only a whisper is appropriate. Provide examples of when loud voices are appropriate, such as at a sporting event or playground.
Tell her that not only are there places where everyone must whisper, there are also things that you say that are appropriate only as a whisper. For instance, if your toddler is learning potty training, instruct her to grab your hand when she feels the need to use the bathroom. Once she has your attention, she can motion with her finger for you to lean down to hear her whisper. Discuss other situations where whispering is appropriate -- for instance, if she sees someone with a disability and wants to ask you about it. Explain that some things are only appropriate to talk about in a very quiet voice.
Practice speaking in whispers. At night when you are tucking your child into bed or during other quiet times, make a game out of whispering. Challenge your child to lower his voice so much that you can only hear him if you place your ear within a couple of inches of his mouth. This shows him that you can hear even the softest whisper in a quiet place.
Tell your child that you can use a secret signal to indicate when whispering is appropriate. Make a fist while extending your index finger and hold it vertically against your mouth. Have her practice the signal herself in case she needs to warn others it is time whisper.
Remember that toddlers and preschool aged children have short attention spans. It may be necessary to remind them a few times a day to use their whispering skills. Also, explain to older preschoolers that whispering is rude at certain times, for instance when three children are in a room together and two of them start whispering about the other one.
Take your child to the doctor for a hearing test if he doesn’t seem to have the ability to speak in a quiet voice. Speaking loudly on a regular basis may indicate a hearing problem in some children.
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