Sound can have a major effect on our comfort levels. Many of us have felt the jet lag that occurs after we have been on a long noisy flight. The sounds of jackhammers and garbage trucks both fascinate and scare young children. Thinking about how to use sound as a comfort measure can be helpful when your child doesn’t feel well. In this article, I’ll discuss some of your options. Take the time to experiment and discover what works best for your child’s situation! 

1. Silence

Most people who have had a headache recognize that silence can be beneficial when experiencing discomfort. When someone is in pain, it can start to overload their senses. Additional noise can contribute to anxiety and stress. Finding a way to limit noise can promote a healing atmosphere.

How can silence help your child relax?

Silence is an excellent way to reset and decrease outside stimulation. When it’s quiet, it is easier to participate in mindful activities and regain focus. Silence can be uncomfortable for some individuals, so check in with your child to see how they feel about it.

If you want to try this intervention, you can start by turning off electronics and other loud appliances. You can also try offering earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to older children and teens.

Effects of excessive noise

Noise can disrupt sleep, leading to fatigue, irritability, and decreased performance and concentration. In many hospitals, noise excess noise has been recognized as being detrimental to healing. Some hospitals have instigated quiet times during the day when the staff is supposed to take extra care with the sound levels. When your child is sick, consider decreasing the amount of extra noise in your home.

2. White noise

White noise is a background sound that masks other noises. In the hospital, families experience constant noise at all night hours due to machines beeping and staff going about their tasks. Some hospitals have initiated a white noise channel to help families block the irritating sounds in the environment.

Using white noise at home

Here are a few examples of white noise:

  • An airconditioner
  • A fan
  • Fireplace sounds
  • Airplane sounds
  • A vaccuum
  • Gentle shushing sounds

When introducing white noise in your home, there are multiple ways you can do it. Here are a few ideas.

  1. If you have a fan, you can place it in your child’s room.
  2. You can download a white noise app and play it on an electronic device.
  3. Purchase a dedicated white noise machine with built-in sounds.

I have used all three options with my kids in different circumstances. White noise can also be distracting or annoying for some people, so check in with your child to see if this is something that works for them.

3. Nature Sounds

Playing nature-based sounds can help create a healing space. Nature sounds include recordings of ocean waves, birds singing, rain falling, crickets chirping, or a babbling brook. Introducing nature sounds is one way you can bring the healing effect of the outdoors into your child’s bedroom. They also provide an excellent background soundtrack for deep breathing or other mindful activities. 

4. Music

The possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing music to help comfort your child. If you are not sure what to try, think about the mood you want to set. If your child is wide awake and feeling sad, it could be a good time to play some upbeat tunes that will help distract and cheer them up. If it’s just about bedtime, you may want to play something more relaxing like classical music, or children’s lullabies.

5. Reading out loud or listening to audiobooks

Reading out loud to your child when they are not feeling well is an excellent way to distract them and provide a sense of connection. You probably already have a bunch of books at home. It’s comforting for your child to pick some of their favorites to read when they are not feeling good.

If you are finding that your voice is worn out, audiobooks are another great alternative. Many libraries have online catalogs of audiobooks, so this intervention doesn’t need to cost you a dime. Some children may enjoy listening to an audiobook while they do something else like color, or play with play dough. Engaging multiple senses can be a great way to decrease your child’s perception of pain.

Guided Imagery/Guided meditations

Practicing mindfulness is another option you can try to help comfort your child. Guided imagery plays on one of the children’s greatest strengths which is their ability to use their imaginations. Using guided imagery can distract your child and help them to relax. You can follow a script, or just make one up on your own.

Let your child decide

Talk to your child about the different choices they have when it comes to sound. Let them experiment and try several options. Allowing your child to decide what they want to listen to is one way of giving your child a sense of control over their situation.

Final Thoughts

As you assess your child’s specific needs and communicate with them, you can decide together which sound intervention you want to try. Different interventions will be more or less effective depending on the situation. Using sound as an intervention is a helpful element to consider when creating a healing environment for your child!

For more ideas on how to comfort your child, check out these articles:

How to address your child’s pain in 5 steps

How to comfort your kid hen embarrassing things happen

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