A voice disorder is characterized by pitch, loudness, quality or rate that is inappropriate for a child’s age or gender. A disordered voice may be too high or too low in pitch, or too loud or too soft in volume. A voice may be hoarse, harsh, hypernasal or hyponasal in quality. Speech may be too fast or too slow in rate.

Vocal abuse and misuse are the most common types of voice disorders in children. Negative vocal behaviours such as these should be discouraged:

  • Excessive yelling, screaming, crying
  • Loud talking
  • Excessive talking
  • Excessive vocal noises while playing (e.g. imitating someone, making car sounds, animal sounds etc.)
  • Excessive use of voice to compete
  • Excessive use of voice to get attention
  • Excessive coughing, throat clearing, wheezing
  • Strained singing
  • Whispering

Teachers and parents can play a preventative role and tell children to “talk easily and just loud enough for others to hear you. When you yell to your friends, scream on the playground, or cheer too loudly, your throat may begin to hurt and your voice might become gruff and breathy.”


FACT: Voice disorders have been reported to occur in approximately 1% of the general population.

FACT: Laryngitis (inflammation of the laryngeal tissues) is one of the most frequently occurring voice disorders.

FACT: Vigorous clearing of the throat and excessive coughing are extremely hard on the vocal cords.

FACT: If one has acute or chronic laryngitis, one should be silent, not even whispering, to allow the tissues of the larynx time to heal.

FACT: Allergies can cause swelling of the tissues in the throat and larynx. When swollen, these tissues are extremely sensitive and can be easily damaged even with normal voice use.

FACT: Inhalation of dust, cigarette smoke and noxious gases can cause tissue changes in the larynx leading to hoarseness.

FACT: Increasing the loudness of one’s voice also increases tension in the larynx. Speaking frequently in a noisy environment can cause harmful irritation of the vocal cords.

FACT: Use of a humidifier or vaporizer will help to keep moist air in the house.

FACT: Keeping your throat moist will help you avoid unnecessary coughing and throat clearing.

FACT: Incorrect posture and inappropriate breathing may increase the amount
of effort needed to speak, putting stress on the vocal cords.

FACT: Medication can sometimes have an affect on the voice. For example ,
some medications can alter the pitch of your voice. It is best to check with
your doctor about side effects of medication.

FACT: If one has a voice disorder, it is best not to project the voice.

FACT: If you/your child has persistent hoarseness (lasting more than
three weeks after the cold or allergies have improved) consult
your family doctor.