For homework, my daughter had to record a video of herself discussing a book. After a little while, I tapped lightly on her bedroom door. “Are you done? Can I watch?” She blushed and said OK. But as soon as she pressed play on her laptop, she pulled a blanket up to her face. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “You sound great!” She peeked over her blanket to watch herself talking on screen, then threw it back over her face and shrieked, “I don’t want to hear myself!” I had to laugh. Who likes listening to their own voice played back on a recording anyway?
But awkward recordings aside, using her voice and being able to speak up matters. It’s a tool for life, and all kids should get used to using it while they’re young. For some quieter kids, this can be difficult! But rest assured, your child doesn’t have to be loud to use her voice effectively. Here are 5 reasons a child’s voice is her greatest tool and why you should encourage her to use it.
1. To Make Friends
On the first day of art camp, my daughter told me she made a new friend by asking the girl her name—three times. She said she wanted to remember it. The next day, my daughter arrived at camp with a cheerful, “Hi, Brigit!” and the girls hung out all afternoon. Using your voice takes courage. Sometimes, it’s easier to stand quietly off to the side and watch others. But if your child wants to make friends, she’s going to have to summon her nerve and use her voice.
2. To Learn More About the World
“What do you want to know?” I asked my son as we stood on a busy street corner, waiting for my husband to come out of his office building. My son ran his eyes up the tall building in front of him. I enjoyed watching him take it all in. “What do people do in all these offices?” he finally asked. Encouraging kids to ask questions helps them think deeper instead of passively taking in their surroundings. I want my son to be brave and to speak up when he wants to know something. Putting his thoughts into words and using his voice to gain knowledge is important.
3. To Lead or Inspire Others
My friend’s daughter is a Girl Scout. “I didn’t want her to do online cookie sales,” my friend said. “I wanted her to use her voice and go door to door! Isn’t that the point? To teach kids how to use their voices?” My friend had the right idea. She wanted to teach her daughter to be brave and to lead. “I think it’s nice when kids come to the door selling things,” she continued, “because you know it takes a lot of courage and they’re working on themselves.” Seeing other kids come to our door to sell inspired me too when it came time for my son to sell popcorn for Cub Scouts. Knocking on doors gave him good practice talking to adults, and when those adults engaged him in conversation, it helped build his confidence. A child’s voice can take time to develop.
4. To Stand Up for What’s Right or What She Deserves
In the fourth grade, I did a solar system project with a friend. We painted Styrofoam balls and used fishing wire and I thought we’d done a really great job, worthy of an A+! But we received an A-. It wasn’t a bad grade, but my science partner and I felt robbed. My parents encouraged me to ask the teacher why we received the grade, so together, my friend and I walked up to the grand, metal desk before recess. I took a shaky breath. “Excuse me, Mrs. S,” I began. She stopped her work and peered up at me under hooded eyelids. I don’t remember her answer, but I remember speaking. Not my friend. Me. It’s important for our kids to use their voices even if the chances are slim that anything will change. Someday, your child’s voice will be used to great effect, and you’ll be glad she practiced so much until that point.
It’s important for our kids to use their voices even if the chances are slim that anything will change.
5. To Keep Himself Safe
“Use your voice to help you,” I told my son before he left for camp. He’d have six nights without me, and he was nervous. “If you’re tired and need to turn in early, say so. If you’re uncomfortable doing an activity, speak up.” I wanted him to be confident enough to say something if he felt unsafe. When I did playground duty a few years ago, I had a girl run up to me one day and tell me a boy had touched her bum. That boy went straight to the main office, and I congratulated the girl on her courage to tell me. A child’s voice is her greatest tool. Teach your daughter or son to use it well.
How can you help your child’s voice grow stronger?
ASK YOUR CHILD…
What is the loudest animal in the world?