Princess Hates Loud Noises

Dear Mamas,

Ever since our daughter was tiny, she‘s reacted to any sudden, loud noise. When she was a baby I couldn’t even vacuum without her getting all worked up. Barking dogs could send her into wails of terror. Now, at 2, she’s gotten a bit better, but still loses it when a loud lawnmower or construction noise disturb the peace.

We’ve always handled it by removing her from the situation when possible, or reassuring her that it’s okay, it’s just a … fill in the blank. Is this the right approach, or am I missing something? Could something be wrong with her hearing? Is there something more we should be doing? Our older child (who’s 4) never had this problem and we’re starting to worry.

Thanks for your help,


Dear Pam,

This problem is so common that there’s actually a name for it! It’s called phonophobia –  fear of loud noises – and is most common in small children; even very young infants.

Loud noises, like any surprising stimuli, may trigger reactions. For most kids these fears are mild and transient. However some children, like adults, are more sensitive and react more strongly.

Sometimes, phonophobia is the result of a related condition, called hyperacusis, which is a heightened sensitivity to certain tones and sound ranges. Children with hyperacusis actually hear specific sounds differently. Noises that seem normal to others may cause pain and discomfort in these kids.

If your little one’s sensitivity seems to be improving, a watch and wait approach is fine, but if you’re concerned you may want to schedule a full hearing assessment with an audiologist. That way you’ll have a better idea if the issue is behavioral, physical, or a bit of both.

For some children, a simple explanation is enough to reassure them, but for those who are very effected by their phonophobia (or hyperacusis), a combination of approaches is available to help. These include auditory desensitization and self-management techniques, even for preschoolers!

The idea is to make your daughter more comfortable around sudden noises and prevent the development of long-term fears. Addressing the problem may also make you more relaxed and less concerned about when the next barking dog or lawnmower is going to send her into a tailspin.

Hope that helps!

~ Dr. Mama

Email This Post Email This Post

Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?

Warning: Illegal string offset 'echo' in /home/mamasonc/public_html/mama/wp-content/themes/hybrid/library/extensions/custom-field-series.php on line 157

Leave a Reply




With One or Both of Us

Go to & for the scoop!

Phone • Internet • Your Home or Group

Listen up

The Five Second Rule: True Or False?

If you pick it up within five seconds, you can eat it, right?

Watch This!

Teach your kids to step in and step up when they see a classmate being teased. Show them how to respond and tell them what to say. Let's try to make our world a little kinder and a little warmer. Please?

What You Said

  • FirstBarry: I have noticed you don’t monetize your website, don’t waste your traffic, you can earn...
  • Rebecca Benham: My son woke up with bumps on his stomach help
  • Chelie Belie: AND up the street there’s a psychotic IT that is awe-struck by me! Walks by my property carrying...
  • Chelie Belie: I live next door to Ned Flanders–how would you like that??
  • Maggie sullivan: I have a neighbor, will holler and wave at me if i am near porch but if i try to sit in the yard, or...
  • Ellen Schrier: Thank you so much! Please come back often!
  • Ellen Schrier: Hi Lisa, Sorry for the very late response. We are sorry to hear about your daughter and are sure that...
  • Lisa jacobs: My daughter was in a car accident and now has a concussion. She is plan to go to Mexico City which is a...
  • RF: Well my baby had her first two bottom theeth at 10 months old and i tought so far so good and then now at 11...
  • ofertas cine: That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Thanks...

Just so you know

The Mama ButtonThe information provided by MamasOnCall is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, but is for information purposes only. You assume full responsibility for the health and well-being of your family. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychiatric condition.