Child's Fear of Loud Noises

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Two-year-old screams when there's a loud noise

Nov 2005

My son is 2 1/4 years old. He is very paranoid of loud noises. Our neighbor works on his house everyday(hammering, hammering gun, sanding etc.) If my son is outside he will scream, hold his ears and cry saying''loud, loud, mommy,loud) He also comments on other things being loud such as something falling,the vacuum cleaner, toilets flushing,etc.He seems overly sensitive to sound. My question is -is this a normal stage? If so, when does it end? He is normal and healthy in every other way. He hasn't had any injury to the ears and has never had any ear problems or illnesses. concerned mom

My son used to be extremely sensitive to loud noises. He especially hated big crowded places with lots of people talking, and loud music. He too would always say ''Too Loud, Too Loud''. He's now 10 and although he still hates to go to big crowded places he doesn't complain much about loud I guess he grew out of it. My son is extremely sensitive and also socially quite anxious. Sounds like your son is just very sensitive. Likely he'll grow out of it, and you may have to adjust your lives in certain ways to help him out. June

My daughter was extremely sensitive to noise when she was 2 1/4. We live close to the Oakland Airport, and she would scream and cover her ears every time a plane took off. There was a month where she was so afraid of noises, she could not be outside in our backyard because our neighbor's tree rubbed against our fence and made a noise that scared her. Just about when I thought I needed to get her evaluated, she outgrew it. The phase lasted about 2 months, then it stopped. Thanks goodness! Hang in there, it will pass.

my daughter was disturbed by loud noises at that age. At some point between 1.5 and 2.5 (can't remember when) she would get scared hearing water running through the pipes in the house, and forget the vacuum cleaner! I think this is pretty common, and makes sense if you think about it: their world is expanding, so they're aware of more, plus their little ears are way more sensitive than ours. I think if it goes on perpetually, then ask your doc. But for now, it might help to explain what all the noise is. With my daughter, I actually showed her the pipes and turned the water on so she'd understand. Anything perceived butnot understood at this age is a ''monster.'' Once armed with knowledge and understanding, some of the fear goes away to be traded with a feeling of power and accomplishment. My daughter is over 3 now, and usually she knows enough now to ask what the noise is (and it's not limited to loud noises anymore). hope this helps

It sounds like your son is a merely sensitive to his senses, not going through a phase. You wrote ''overly sensitive'' but maybe he's just the right amount of sensitive for him. All people are different and I think we, as parents, often focus on Normal and where our child falls in line instead of remembering that people come in a very wide variety. Some grown-ups can't stand loud noises either. I went through very similar concerns with my older son and finally after time came to the conclusion that there is a broad spectrum of normal. Some people are very aurally, or physically, or visually attuned. I am a very boisterous person and I have to remind myself that when my son asks me to stop talking so loudly or in some way to not overwhelm him, I need to hear him and remember he is his own person with his own way he prefers. For example he hates to have his hair dried after a bath because it's uncomfortable to him. He is physically sensitive and I can approach it with an attitude of ''You're Ok'' and dry it anyway while he whimpers or I can listen to him and know that he knows best about his comfort and let him have damp hair.

It sounds like your little one is doing a great job of communicating to you about his comfort level and he may be showing what kind of person he is and that might be very different from you. You may just have to learn to figure out his preferences and find out what works for him and you together. been there mama

I didn't see your original post, but my son is also very sensitive to noise. From the time he was tiny, he would react strongly to loud noises, so that he didn't want to take walks when he saw too many airplanes, and he couldn't bear the vacuum cleaner or loud trucks. He's almost 3, and now knows how to cover his ears, which helps a lot. He still doesn't like unknown noises, and won't ride the steam trains, but he seems to be better able to manage his surroundings. Incidentally, he's also very musical and listens intently to all kinds of music, picking out instruments he hears. One thing that might help: my aunt sent him junior ear muffs from the on-line Ear Plug Superstore, which he can use to help vacuum or grind coffee. I'm afraid of dogs, and never have gotten over it, so I figure he may always be sensitive to noise, but then I also wonder--what can he hear that I don't? Rachel

3-year-old is very afraid of dogs and loud noises

Feb 2006

Our 3-year-old is very afraid of dogs. He says he's afraid of the dogs trying to lick him. We live on a street with a LOT of dogs - walking down the street can be an adventure. Is it better to ''work on'' this issue trying to help him overcome it, or just let it be? He also really doesn't like loud noises. I'm wondering if there might be some kind of connection? dave

I definitely wouldn't ''work on'' the issue. I would respect his wishes and protect him from the dogs. Let him see that he can totally trust you to make him feel safe. You might get some clues about the loud noises from HSP stands for Highly Senstive Person, which I thought was new-age psychobabble until I took the quiz and found it was me and explained many things I had thought were my defects. Anyway at this website there is a section on HSP children, and there is a book too. Your son might not be HSP but it might give you some clues about him. anon

My son who is 6 dislikes loud noises and isn't crazy about dogs either - I think the two are definitely connected. Even a small dog who yaps really bothers him. I don't like noises either, and although I like dogs, I respect my son's aversion to them and frankly, I think it is a good thing. I read a publication for work that reports on all the jury verdicts around the state, and you would be amazed by how many kids are bitten by dogs and get seriously injured, or at least what I call serious ($20,000 worth of plastic surgery required). The news media only reports on kids mauled by pit bulls; there's a lot more going on. And keep in mind that even friendly dogs can be really scary for someone whose head is the same height as the dog's shoulder, too. I am always amazed by dog owners who use those extendable leashes that allow their dog to jump on my child. They always tell me Don't worry, he's friendly! and I want to say I'm friendly too, would you like me to lick your face? Fran

I don't know about the fear of dogs question but I am very understanding of the dislike of loud noises. I hated loud noises when I was a child and my family always put up with me but made fun of me. I later found out that it is very common with small children because their ear drums are so small they can vibrate at a much higher frequency than an adult ear drum. So children hear more high frequencies and more over tones than we do. As your child ages and his ear drum gets bigger the sensitivity should go away. But just rejoice that his ears are working so perfectly and be understanding. sound sensitive as a child