Do you ever want to pull your hair out because your child keeps shouting? Very loud talking can be a big problem with small kids. It can drive you crazy and make the neighbors angry, to name some examples! The question is, how do you get your kids to use that notorious "indoor voice"?
This is a question we've been struggling with big time in our family. All of us are very loud by nature, and I the mom am probably loudest of all of us. That doesn't stop me from being very annoyed when my two children shout at each other, or talk to each other from different rooms in what isn't merely an "outdoor voice" but actually a "political rally speaker with a megaphone voice"!
We're now making a serious attempt at zen-izing our home. Here's what we're doing:
Practice different voices with the children when you are in a place where loud talking and screaming is fine, like a park. Prompt your kids to whisper, talk normally, talk a little more loudly, to scream, shout, and talk in high-pitched and low-pitched voices. Talk about the type of volume that is generally acceptable indoors, and practice it together. Talk about how things that we do affect others.
If I shout, it will bother my kids, husband, and neighbors who may actually call the police if we're loud enough. Taking other peoples' feelings into account is nice. Discourage loud arguments. Encourage different forms of expressing anger, including punching a pillow and drawing what you feel like. Sugar can encourage general loudness and hyper-activity. If it's relevant for you, cut it out. Make sure your kids spend enough time outside, where they can be loud.
Pent up energy often leads to too many decibels in the house. Running is a great way to reduce the need for shouting, in our experience. Kids who are loud and running after each other are most likely bored. Set them up with a good activity. Clay, play dough, water coloring, indoor football... whatever your kids like, and what is possible within your home.