How can children maintain a healthy voice?
It is generally agreed that misuse of the voice is the most common cause of voice problems in children. This misuse can take many forms, such as:
- Yelling and excessively loud talking. This does not affect all children in the same way, but if a child has hoarseness, then such abuse should be discouraged.
- Using the voice to imitate cars, motor boats, machine guns, and the like may contribute to voice problems due to the unusual strain on the voice. Cheerleading, singing, and acting may add to the problem and should be carefully supervised.
- When a child has a sore throat and hoarseness, reduce all vocal activities, including talking, to a bare minimum. In the cast of severe laryngitis, vocal activity should be discontinued until the voice is healthy.
- Good physical health is important to a sound, healthy voice. Voice problems may be caused by such conditions as:
- Upper respiratory infections that may result in swollen, inflamed membranes.
- Repeated colds should receive medical attention.
- Coughing is especially abusing to the vocal folds. Repeated or prolonged coughs should receive attention.
- Infected tonsils may spread infection to the laryngeal area.
- General poor health tends to be reflected in one’s voice. We are all familiar with the observation of, “You don’t sound as if you feel well.”
- Emotional problems also show up in one’s voice. A normally speaking child may develop hoarseness under conditions of unusual strain. Sometimes these factors involve:
- Sibling rivalry in which one could may be trying to keep up with, compete with, or take attention away from another child in the family who for some reason poses a threat to the child. a?¨Disrupted home and family relationships may contribute to emotional problems that may emerge as voice problems.
- Individual differences make it difficult to understand why one child may engage in a given behavior with no apparent adverse effects on his voice while another child suffers a severe penalty for shouting, coughing, or excessive talking. Being aware of the causes of voice problems, tuned in to them, and aware of remedial procedures should do much to help all children learn to use their voices most efficiently.
Vocal Hygiene Rules
All of us want to maintain a healthy, well-sounding, clear and confident voice. To do this, we must actively participate in a daily vocal hygiene program.
- Avoid shouting, screaming, cheering, and excessive, loud laughing.
- Do not make strange noises with your voice, like speaking while inhaling, abrupt glottal attack, or strange vocalizations like imitating machine guns, motors, airplanes, etc.
- Avoid talking in noisy places – over machinery, lawn mowers, motor cycles, etc., for long periods of time.
- Talk easily without pushing or straining muscles of the throat, neck, or larynx.
- Talk with adequate loudness, at the best pitch for you with a good moderately slow rate.
- If you have a case of laryngitis, rest your voice (avoid talking) as much as possible.
- Stop smoking.
- Keep in good health with moderate regular exercise, three times weekly for approximately 30 minutes.
- Use alcohol in moderation. Add more ice or water to your drinks.
- Wear both seat belt and shoulder strap when riding in auto. An abrupt stop could throw you against the dash board or steering wheel and damage your voice box (larynx).
- Remember, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. And you want to be able to say it a long time.