Children, especially babies, start developing a sense of hearing that is as acute as an adult’s from the moment of their birth. Do not be surprised if your child can get scared by the slightest noises – from the rumbling of trains to the sound of a door slamming shut. While all this might seem overwhelming and frightening for parents, it is important to understand that this fear is common among children. Here is some information to help you understand fear and learn the best way to help your child.
This fear is especially common during early childhood. While children and infants can register noises as well as adults, they do not yet possess an adults’ vast mental catalog of sounds. Most grownups can hear the sound of a loud plane overhead and recognize what it is. However, a child, especially an infant, would not know what that sound is, where it is coming from, or that there is nothing to fear. Your child might react by crying or screaming, but if the fear is particularly strong, he or she might suffer from panic attacks and exhibit physical symptoms such as sweating, increased heart rate or nausea.
There are many ways to calm your child and help him or her overcome their fears. What works for one child might not necessarily work for others. Try different methods and choose the one that works best for you and your child. Sometimes, you might not see the results right away, but it is important to persist if you see small signs of development. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Observe your child’s behavior.
The first step in getting rid of your child’s fear is understanding his or her condition. For the most part, a child usually associates a loud noise they are afraid of with a particular thing or event. The reasons behind your child’s fear might not be so obvious. It might help to keep a diary of your child’s behavior patterns .
Help your child express their fears.
If the child is able to speak, help them understand his or her own behavior. It is hard for children to use the right words or express what they are feeling. Ask questions and encourage your child so they can take you through their mental journey, outlining their fears and the reasons behind them.
Start easing the child into sounds that you can control.
After discovering your child’s triggers, try reducing or avoiding them, especially if your child suffers from severe panic attacks. Start easing the child into sounds that you can control. For example, if the sound of the vacuum cleaner is the child’s trigger, turn it on in another room so that it is not so loud and let the child get accustomed to it. Another method you can use is to turn on videos or recordings of a loud noise your child is afraid of. Watching a video of a revving motorcycle might help them to not be so scared when the sound is heard in real life.
Be careful of your own behavior.
Sometimes, your child can feed off of your reaction. If you demonstrate fear towards a certain object or noise, it is very easy for the child to adopt these feelings and exhibit the same or more extreme reaction as yours.
Talk to your child when you anticipate loud noises.
If you are taking your child somewhere you know they might be exposed to loud noises, talk to them beforehand. For example, if the weather looks like rain, talk to your child about the potential for thunderstorms or tell the child that going outside might mean loud traffic noises. Let your child know that they will be experiencing these loud sensations, but that there is nothing to be afraid of and you are there to keep them safe.
Educate your child so that they understand what is happening.
Tell the child about where the noises come from and how they are made. For example, if the child is afraid of the sound of an electric guitar, bring them into contact with one. Explain to your child how harmless it is and show how the sound is made. You might even let the child try strumming the guitar so that they can understand the instrument and recognize that there is nothing to fear.
Comfort your child.
Comfort your child physically, especially if they are at very young. It is important to encourage and calm your child, keeping the situation positive. Make them feel protected. Big headphones can also be useful, especially when you are taking your child into a loud environment.
Consult your pediatrician.
Your pediatrician can help give you more tips or explore other treatment methods if the basic ones are not helping. Even if you are not extremely worried about your child’s behavior, it is still essential for your pediatrician to be in the loop about what is happening with your child.
The Second Class Honors M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, 2000.