Voice

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Young people

In our resources section you will see some Top Tips to help you to care for your voice throughout the day. It is important that you try to include this vocal care advice in your daily routine as much as possible.

In our links section you can explore voice difficulties in more detail.

Top tips for young people

  • Avoid shouting or talking loudly as much as you can. This makes the vocal folds come together quickly and with force. When this happens a lot the vocal folds become irritated and sore. Instead try:
    1. Going to someone to get their attention
    2. Reducing background noise e.g. turning down the TV or radio

Sometimes we can shout and not realise when we are wearing headphones, particularly noise cancelling headphones. 

  • Avoid whispering or using unusual character voices (e.g. batman, Yoda) as much as possible. Doing these voices can put strain on your voice.
  • Try to reduce coughing as much as possible. This can be a tricky one. Try to take some small sips of water when you feel like you need to cough.
  • Keep a relaxed posture as much as possible. Be aware of any signs of tension, for example, raised shoulders or clenched jaw. Tension in our upper body is likely to also mean that the muscles in and around our throat are tense which can impact on our voice. Try to use some relaxation strategies like deep breathing or mindfulness to let go of this tension if you notice it
  • Avoid or reduce your intake of caffeinated drinks, for example tea, coffee or fizzy drinks such as Coke. These drinks encourage your body to get rid of water which risks the vocal folds becoming dry and irritated
  • Drink lots of water throughout the day. Water is important to keep your vocal folds hydrated and protected. 8-10 glasses a day is recommended. If your throat is feeling dry you may want to try inhaling steam as this will instantly rehydrate the vocal folds. Do not add any flavouring or scents to the steam inhalation
  • Reduce your intake of dairy products, for example milk or cheese. These foods can cause the mucus which protects your vocal folds to thicken making it harder for the vocal folds to move easily and smoothly.

Parents

In our resources section you will see some Top Tips to help you to encourage your child to use a healthy voice pattern and to minimise things which can irritate the voice. It is very important that the vocal care advice is followed consistently.

In our links section you can explore voice difficulties in more detail and explore ways to support your child to use a healthy voice.

Top tips for parents

  • Encourage your child to drink water throughout the day. This is important to keep their vocal folds hydrated and protected. This is especially important if they are a very active child
  • Restrict access to drinks which have a high level of caffeine e.g. tea, coffee and fizzy drinks. These drinks encourage your body to get rid of water which risks the vocal folds becoming dry and irritated
  • Reduce the intake of dairy products e.g. milk, cheese, milk chocolate. These foods can cause the mucus which protects your vocal folds to thicken making it harder for the vocal folds to move easily and smoothly
  • Promote silent play times through the day so that your child has a chance to rest their voice
  • Try to reduce shouting as much as possible. Encourage everyone to go to someone to gain their attention rather than shouting upstairs or across the room. Reduce background noise when you are having a conversation or your child is telling a story e.g. turn down volume on the TV, find a quiet area if you are out in the community, avoid long conversations on a car journey
  • Discourage the use of whispering particularly when their voice is sore. When we whisper we put our vocal folds under more tension and cause them to tire
  • Discourage the use of unusual character voices (e.g. Batman, muppets, Yoda). Doing these unusual voices again puts tension on the voice and tires out the vocal folds
  • Keep a healthy voice environment in the home. Central heating can dry out the air so counteract this by using humidifiers or placing small bowls of water or damp towels on radiators in the room the child uses a lot. Try to avoid places where there is a lot of smoke or dust.

Schools and professionals

In our resources section you will see some Top Tips on how you can support a child with a voice difficulty in your classroom and in the wider school environment. It is important that this advice is built into the school environment as much as possible and followed consistently by all staff.

In our links section you can explore voice difficulties in more detail

Top tips for schools

  • So that the young person does not feel singled out it might be helpful to have a PHSE session about how the voice works and how to look after it and then introduce these strategies for the whole class or group.
  • Allow access to water throughout the day: re-introduce the drink to think strategy, and actively encourage regular drinking so the young person can:
    • Stay hydrated – this is important to maintain healthy mucus so the vocal folds are well cushioned 
    • Sip water instead of coughing or clearing their throat. This is an important behavioural  change which protects the vocal folds from the damaging effects of being repeatedly banged together
  • Allow the young person to opt out of singing assemblies/ lessons so they can rest their voice if this has been advised. If possible give them the opportunity to participate by using actions, signing or musical accompaniment alongside peers.
  • Look for other ways for them to indicate someone to pass to them in sports activities other than shouting – explore use of agreed gesture or signs within the group or team. 
  • During drama lessons allow the young person to explore use of non-verbal expression and miming as much as possible while they are in voice recovery.
  • Discourage any vocal habit that can add tension to the vocal folds such as whispering, falsetto, using funny voices or sounds.
  • Ensure the young person can remain in an aligned posture when in speaking situations so as not to add extra tension to their body which can pass to their vocal folds. Make sure they’re sitting facing the teacher and boards straight on and do not have to twist to speak. 
  • Use the power of “Do what I do”
  • By creating a quiet environment and speaking softly ourselves, using gestures and signs when we can instead of our voice, and using other ways to gain attention such as whistles or noise makers instead of our voices and visibly staying hydrated we can model heathy voice use.  
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