I Cannot Get My Toddler To Stop Screaming

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He's cute, but BOY! he has lungs.

My toddler screams.

A lot.

He screams when he’s frustrated.  He screams when he’s mad.  He screams when he’s happy.  He screams when he’s sad.

(Wow, I sound like a Dr. Suess book!)

But really, my kid screeches to decibils that will deafen ears and shatter glass.  It’s an incredible skill he has mastered and I hear it is pretty common amoung small humans around two years old.  What started as a cute squawk as he discovered his voice has developed into a full-blown banshee wail the moment he drops a Matchbox car. 

I’d like it to stop, and to stop now please.

I tried ignoring the behavior.  I turned my back, I walked out of the room, I kept doing what I was doing to show him that screaming does not warrant attention.  Except…he wasn’t doing it for attention.

I tried scolding him.  “Harrison, no screaming.” I’d say firmly whenever he began screeching.  Sure, he’d get quiet for a second and then realize that the scolding made him MORE mad or MORE sad and WHAM! he’d rev up again.

I tried whispering to him.  “The experts” on some “expert article” I stumbled across on the interwebs said that if I whispered, he would have to stop screaming to hear what I had to say.  Too bad he didn’t give two flying flips what I had to say.

I tried screaming along with him.  (Not at him, mind you!)  A friend of mine suggested wailing right along with him to show him how ridiculous the behavior was.  That lasted once because he just thought it was funny.  Oops.

Then I decided that the screaming, deep down at the root, was simply a form of expression.  And I needed to teach the kid a more healthy way and ear-friendly of expressing his delight/anger/fear/sadness.  So we taught him to say “Oh, dear!”  It is something that I say on the regular, so it was natural for him to pick up despite him not being a huge talker.  Everytime he screeched we said, “Oh, dear!  Harrison, say ‘oh dear!'” and he obliged.  We beat him to the punch – the moment a Matchbox car dropped, we exclaimed “Oh, dear!” and he would repeat instead of screeching.  Two weeks into “Oh, dear!” as an alternative to screaming, I can safely take off my ear muffs.

Beth Anne writes words & takes pictures on The Heir to Blair.
You can also find her on the TwittersFacebook.
She is not a parenting “expert” by any stretch of the imagination.

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