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Good Choices for Healthy Voices

Achieving and maintaining a healthy voice is very important for both you and your child. Changing your vocal habits in order to establish a healthy voice may take some work, but it’s well-worth the effort. The vocal folds, which affect vocal quality, can be damaged when they’re not properly cared for. Introducing healthy vocal behaviours can help to keep the voice working smoothly and optimally.

Vocal folds are located in the larynx (i.e., the area of the throat) and contribute to the:

  • Pitch range of the voice (i.e., high-pitched vs. low-pitched voice)
  • Volume range of the voice (i.e., loud vs. soft voice)
  • Quality of the voice (i.e., smooth vs. rough voice quality)

Below are some suggestions for maintaining healthy vocal folds:

Fluid Intake

Encourage your child to increase his/her fluid intake. Water is always the number-one choice, however, other non-caffeinated beverages that contain water (e.g., fruit juices with low sugar content) can also help to keep the vocal folds hydrated and working smoothly.

Volume

Whenever possible, speak at a soft, conversational-volume and avoid raising your voice for extended periods of time in order to model good vocal behaviour for your child. At home, it is best to be in the same room as your child when having a conversation, as opposed to trying to carry a conversation from further distances (i.e., a different room or floor of the house). This close conversational proximity will allow for a lower speech volume, which is optimal for the vocal folds. Similarly, you can encourage your child to approach friends at the park or at school when chatting instead of shouting their message from far distances.

Alternatives to Vocal Use

While at activities such as shows and sporting events, you can bring noisemakers (e.g., whistles, horns, etc.) or visuals (e.g., signs) as an alternative to yelling and loud cheering which can result in vocal strain and damage.

Breath Support

Encourage your child to take frequent breaths while speaking in order to avoid running out of air. Adequate breath support is integral to improving vocal quality.

Humidity

Consider adding a humidifier to your home environment in order to maintain an optimal humidity level. Excessive dryness can be damaging to the vocal folds and result in coughing or throat-clearing behaviours which can contribute to vocal fatigue and strain.

Non-Speech Noises

Try to avoid or minimize the production of non-speech vocal sounds. Children often enjoy making animal sounds, car noises, etc. during favourite books and television shows, which can be damaging to the voice if they are too loud or made too often. Next time your child makes a loud “RAWR” sound when they see a lion or a big “VROOM” sound when they see a car, try to encourage them to use a quieter vocal volume for the rest of the activity and to hydrate with water.

You can help your child to maintain a healthy voice by engaging in healthy vocal habits and modeling these behaviours. Making good vocal choices will result in healthy voices for you and your child!

Lauren Greenwood, M.Cl.Sc., Reg. CASLPO

About Lauren Greenwood, M.Cl.Sc., Reg. CASLPO

Lauren is a compassionate and dedicated speech-language pathologist with a diverse range of clinical experience assisting children and adolescents with special needs and developmental disorders as well as communication difficulties including articulation and phonological disorders, developmental and acquired language disorders, fluency disorders, voice disorders, and motor speech disorders. With experience working in both community and clinical settings, Lauren values the importance of collaboration with families and other health care professionals in order to provide patient-centred care.

Learn more about Lauren Greenwood, M.Cl.Sc., Reg. CASLPO

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