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I'll start by saying I don't think it's a hearing problem, as she uses a normal voice in non-excited conversation, and can hear questions asked to her in a normal voice (aside from what I suspect is normal tuning-out of my voice...)

When my daughter is in situations where she's excited, she frequently yells at a volume that's way louder than appropriate, given her proximity to other people. It sometimes happens when we're in groups, playing outside, or if she's watching TV and she wants to tell me about something she saw that she really liked. As a specific example, I was helping her off the swing today and her sandal fell off - she shouted "MY SHOE!!!" right in my face as it happened. It comes out sounding angry, though I'm pretty sure that's not intentional - it's just really loud.

I know it takes time to learn what's appropriate for a situation, but when can I expect my child to start using an appropriate volume when speaking in excitement? I feel like I'm constantly asking her to speak more quietly, and constantly giving reminders, but any improvement is minor at best, and it usually only applies to her current thoughts - the next time there's an exciting situation she's back to yelling.

Is continual reinforcement and reminders the best approach here? Is she too young to understand the concept at 5, and I should just relax? I feel like I'm constantly shooshing her, and it's not my intent to curtail what she's saying, but sometimes my frustration manifests itself as stopping her speech rather than adjusting her volume, so I'm hoping for a new approach.

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I love little kids excitement :) –  jasonflaherty Mar 20 '13 at 18:07
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3 Answers 3

I've found that using hand signals is often more effective than verbal communication or shooshing. She is old enough to learn to be quiet, but you're going to have to decide how important it is to you. If your reminders aren't enough of a deterrent for her, the next stage of escalation is to give her consequences when she requires reminding. A fairly mild consequence would be causing a delay in your response when she talks too loudly. "I'll be happy to hear all about it in a couple minutes when you can speak at an appropriate level."

However, you can't really give her a consequence without quelling her enthusiasm, which is why most parents I know are fairly choosy about the circumstances they enforce. In a quiet church, I'm really strict. On a playground, I let it go with a reminder. Inside at home, somewhere in between.

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I hadn't considered just using hand signals - it seems less abrupt than the verbal cues we're giving. I am concerned about quieting her enthusiasm when I just intend to quiet the outbursts to a normal level. Thanks for your suggestions! –  SqlRyan Mar 20 '13 at 4:41
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Five is not too young to understand the concept of volume, but it can be tough for a child that age to restrain the impulse to yell without a reminder. A mildly silly strategy that works on my kindergartener is saying, "I can't understand you," when he yells. It has evolved from, "I can't understand you when you're that loud," and (when we started doing it) would include an explanation that I could understand normal volume better than shouting: even though I could hear what was coming out of his mouth, I couldn't comprehend it well. Now, it is a neutral reminder to dial down the volume, conveying that I'd like to be able to understand what's being said but the volume is getting in the way of communication. My goal is to eventually translate this into hand signals so I can just point at my ears (or something similar) and he realizes that he's too loud.

(For what it's worth, he knows this is a mildly bogus position on my part and has occasionally yelled even louder that he knows I can hear him, but that's usually when he's angry rather than excited; the majority of the time it just gets him to repeat himself at a more reasonable level. And just because this strategy works for us, doesn't mean it's universally ideal for all kids.)

@dave's suggestion to get her hearing checked is also important, though -- minor hearing problems can fly under the radar and it's best to rule that out as a possibility (or figure out how to address it).

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I like this strategy as well - it allows me to give her an indicator that her volume isn't appropriate for the situation, but without implying to her that I don't want her to express herself. This might be a nice balance! –  SqlRyan Mar 20 '13 at 15:14
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We use a "loud" whisper voice sometimes just to change up the volume. Works well with the 2 year old. –  jasonflaherty Mar 20 '13 at 18:09
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Have you had her hearing tested?

We thought our lad's hearing was good since he'd hear what was said across a room, even if was not directed to him, and contribute to the conversation - indicating that he'd correctly heard what was said. After an audiology test, it turned out that his ears were full of fluid and he could hear nothing under 30dB .

His ears were drained and grommits installed, giving him perfect hearing.

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I don't believe we have - that may be an avenue to explore as well. –  SqlRyan Mar 20 '13 at 4:41
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