When you have a child who is sensitive to noise, normal, everyday events can bring on strong reactions that leave you feeling helpless and then scrambling to make things right.
Imagine the sounds you hear every day, and especially loud ones such as alarms, a passing firetruck or ambulance’s sirens, or announcements over a loudspeaker at school, are magnified as if you’re hearing them with a megaphone inches away from your ears.
What you and I may perceive as simply noise and everyday occurrences are amplified and stir up a whole host of extreme reactions in children with sensitivities to noise.
Sensitivity to noise can triggers stimuli reactions such as fear, anxiety, irritability, and can cause them to be upset, scared, or angry.
One child may react to the vacuum with tears and fearfulness while another child, like my nephew, runs in the house and hides during the fireworks displays on the 4th of July because he’s terrified.
It’s normal to want to remove the fear and anxiety they experience from loud noises from everyday life, but that is unrealistic. What’s better is to learn ways to reduce the anxiety that loud noise causes and be prepared with tools to help comfort when they feel accosted by the overstimulation of noise.
Whether it’s a fire alarm, television, vacuum, fireworks or other everyday occurrence that triggers powerful emotions and physical reactions, there are ways to help those children who are sensitive to sound thrive in a world that will always be filled with noise.
Please note: My affiliate links are included in this post. This is at no cost to you, but it does keep the coffee running in our house. Please see my disclaimer for more details.
BLOCK THE SOUND
Try out several noise-blocking methods before you invest in what works for your child.
Consider ear muffs, ear plugs (these are great, but you can also get a a big pack of these, just make sure you get the kids size plugs), noise-cancelling headphones, and hats that cover ears and muffle the volume.
When kids are at school, having a pair of ear plugs handy is convenient to combat fire drills and assemblies and help drown out the noise in social environments.
Pack an extra pair in the car for when you might be out and about or visiting and could encounter agitating noise like at a birthday party, crowds, activities or amusements that have a lot of people, fireworks, school performances, etc.
I’ve seen children walk around the grocery store with noise-cancelling headphones – if it makes the experience less scary and more tolerable – do it!
PREPARE YOUR CHILD
If you know in advance you will encounter upsetting noise such as on the 4th of July, make sure you’re near a place where you can go indoors to get away from the noise. If you’re at a local park, stay near your car to head inside to get away. If you’re sitting outside, scout the area to find a place to go if or when your child becomes upset by the noise.
In a perfect world, we’d never put our kids in a situation where they’ll become uncomfortable and even uncontrollably upset because we know they’re sensitive to loud noise, but once in a while, we are not in control of the environment and have to make the best of the situation.
When this happens, create a backup plan for “just in case” situations. My husband calls it our “escape route.”
During the holidays in particular, functions can get pretty loud with excitement and large gathering of people. Find a space for your child to go and quietly sit or play or read something you’ve brought along in case they become agitated by the noise. Be prepared for agitated and irritable behavior to crop up particularly during the holidays.
SCHEDULE IN BREAKS
When the environment becomes too much – and when you begin to see the signs that your child is becoming agitated and upset by the noise – take a break. Head outside or to a quiet, safe place to take a break.
Remove your child from the noisy and boisterous situation if you can. Take a short walk, head outside to play or find an unoccupied room to chill out.
If you are at a place where there are a lot of people – such as a restaurant or activity place like a trampoline gym – step outside for a couple minutes or sit in your car and remove your child from the noise so they can calm down and refocus.
Don’t ever be afraid to do what is in the best interest of your child. Stepping out from a party or playdate or even Church for five minutes isn’t rude. If it helps your child and it’s what they need at that time, it’s always the right thing to do.
REMOVE NOISY TOYS AT HOME
Eliminate loud electronics and toys that play sound, music or have no volume controls. The volume on these toys can be extremely loud and irritating.
Books, wooden toys, wooden building toys, Legos, arts and crafts are all great options that don’t include sound and are great for the imagination and creativity.
If your doorbell is extremely loud or startling, consider installing a new type of doorbell with volume control, a video doorbell option or one with a more pleasant and less intense sound.
If the vacuum or use of power tools are triggers, do household chores or tasks that require loud operation of appliances when the kids are out of the house, playing outside or at school.
USE WHITE NOISE
White noise – or background noise – is great to help soften loud, jarring noise. Classical music, radio static, fans, white noise machines help kids to remain calm as well as sleep at bedtimes when they would otherwise be disturbed by household and outside noises.
Download a white noise app on your phone or tablet to always have on hand.
BRING ALONG COMFORT ITEMS
When you are away from home and the noise becomes too much, always have in your diaper bag, purse or car, several comfort items that will help calm and re-center your child.
This might be a lovey, an item they are bonded to or feel joy when they see, or something that helps refocus your child such as a calming jar or textile object. Sensory objects can easily pack away in a small space and pull out on the spot to refocus their attention.
Here are some sensory objects I carry in my purse that might help you too:
- Squishy Ball
- Stretchy String Fidget Toy
- Tactile Toy Assortment Bundle (I always have one or two of these on hand or in my car box)
HELP YOUR CHILD CRUSH ANXIETY WITH PROFESSIONAL HELP
Natasha from Anxious Toddlers, who is a Child Therapist and Child Anxiety Expert, has put together an awesome course to help you and your child Crush Anxiety.
If you want to take the course with me (it’s been incredibly helpful so I can assist my son with his anxiety at school and has already begun to improve our family dynamics), you can learn more about the course and sign up here.
Anxiety can rule not only your child’s life, but it can rule your life as well. Do you find yourself walking on eggshells around your child? Do you avoid things because you know it will cause your child anxiety? Are you always wondering when the other shoe will drop? With stomach issues, sleep troubles and constant panic, anxiety can consume the entire family.
Your child doesn’t deserve that. Your family doesn’t deserve that. Your child needs skills and you can help them learn to face their fears.
Here are some more details on what you’ll get with the course.
- 12 Videos that are quick and bite size
- 14 Exercises that will expand on the skills taught
- 6 Cheat Sheets that will serve as a reference
- Access to the instructor for ongoing support
- Downloadable PDF versions of all lessons
- Lifetime access to the course – you can always come back for help whenever you need!
The course is currently open, so make sure you register now and learn to start helping your family and your child conquer their anxiety.
Parents go to great lengths for their kids but sometimes we need a little extra help. This course will give you awesome insight to accessing behavior and your home so you can help your child learn to thrive instead of being held prisoner to their anxiety.
If you have any questions about the course, you can check out the details here or email me at corinne @ livingandlifedesigned (dot) com and I’ll find out the answers for you.
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