Sarah,
> I find that Melissa (22 months) sometimes shouts in restaurants – like “mama!!” When I am sitting right next to her. Is there anyway to make her understand that shouting is perfectly acceptable outdoors / on the playground but not at the dinner table? >
> Risa,
> Toddlers like to explore. This includes with their voices. They will often try different volume, pitch, tone, and cadence with their voices. Sometimes at inappropriate places and times. However, toddlers are not yet socially conscious, so they have not learned what times or places are appropriate. This is one of your wonderful roles, as her mom. This is where you get to help her understand and build a foundation of socially appropriate actions. In this particular situation, look directly at her and say, “yes, Melissa? I am right here.” Then explain, “your voice is quite loud for inside. That volume is better for when we are outside.” Then you can say her name quietly, “Melissa.” “Can you say my name quietly?” If she repeats the shouting, repeat the message above. If you feel that she is testing the rule, take her outside and say, you may use that volume outside. Then invite her to come back inside when she is ready to speak more quietly. In my experience, most children will test the rule a time or two and then be accepting of the rule. Of course, always using a calm and patient tone. Know that she is not doing this to upset you, she is doing this so she can understand the rules of your culture. >
> Side note: I recommend that parents do not use phrase such as ‘inside voice’ and ‘outside voice’, and in the same vain, ‘walking feet’. These phrase suggest that it is a completely different mechanism. I recommend describing a voice as quiet or soft and then naming the appropriate place to use it. Try to phrase in the positive whenever possible. >
> Examples:
> “I hear your beautiful voice. That volume will be perfect when we are at the park. Let’s speak softly inside.”
> “I can see how quickly you are moving. Please run when we are outside and there is so much space. You can walk while we are inside.“ >

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