Q: I was talking to a friend who has a loud voice and my 16-month-old daughter jumped a few times. Sudden laughter also startles her. Does this mean she’s anxious?
A: Not necessarily. It sounds like she might have a temperamental sensitivity to loud noise. Our temperament is made up of hard-wired characteristics that influence how we react to things. Some children startle more easily than others because they have a lower tolerance for sensory stimulation, such as light, noise or touch. Sensory sensitivity on its own does not mean your daughter is anxious, but it is one of the traits that can underlie anxiety. Help her understand why things startle her and teach her ways to cope: Warn her when loud noises are about to occur and coach her to calm her mind and body.