Helping Your Child Speak in Different Voices Counselor’s Corner by Sharon Scott, LPC LMFT
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
Listen to a Podcast with Sharon Scott
My mother and I recently did a trans-Atlantic cruise from Barcelona, Spain to Galveston, Texas. It was a wonderful trip with interesting ports of call. We met people from many countries and enjoyed delightful conversations.
For fifteen nights we were seated in a gorgeous formal dining room at a large oblong table with the same group of six people. Two were from France, two hailed from Florida and two others called Scotland home. I love meeting new people from around the globe; however, Mother and I sat quietly at dinner rarely interacting in the conversation that seemed fun as there was lots of laughter.
What was the problem? Due to the shape of the table we were at the far end. Unfortunately, only one of those six people projected their voices so that we could hear. I tired of saying, “I’m sorry I can’t hear you,” or “Huh?” or “Please repeat that again.”
So, while sitting there disappointed that I couldn’t interact with these potential new friends, it dawned on me to write this month’s column about teaching our children about “different” voices.
This is an interpersonal skill that may have not been taught to a lot of people as I see many adults with inappropriate volume to their voice. Have you ever had lunch at a restaurant with a friend and someone at the next table is talking so loudly that you can’t even think?
Also have you noticed how some people, when on a cell phone, talk so loud? And then there are many, like my dinner companions, who just don’t raise their voice loud enough for others to hear them? It wears you out trying to understand what they are saying.
A couple of voices come to to mind to teach children: an “inside” voice; a “project” voice; and an “assertive” voice. The inside voice is for quiet conversation, often one-on-one. The project voice is to be used when there is a large room or large dining room table and you need others a little further away than normal to hear you.
The assertive voice is for saying “NO! Stop it! Leave me alone!” to other kids’ teasing (or even, as they run away, in a potentially dangerous situation with an unknown adult). Depending on the ages of your children, you could do practice drills reading from a book demonstrating the different voices and then asking the child to do the same as you call out inside or project or assertive.
You want to avoid talking or repeating for the quiet child else he or she will take too long to learn to speak for themselves. Frequent lectures or corrections to the too-loud child is not healthy.
So practice, in whatever positive way you teach it, could help the reserved child sound more confident and the overly rambunctious child be able to tone it down. And the assertive voice is important for self protection.
Here’s wishing you a most wonderful new year. My very best to you and your family!
Copyright 2018, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
P.S. Please see my other column SmileNotes.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
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