What To Do When Your Toddler Screams His Head Off.Naomi Odes
Ever get to that place where you just want to scream your head off? I do. Usually it’s when neither kid is responding to me and I just need a break. I’ll admit it. I’ve yelled. I’ve screamed (into a pillow).
However, I find when my toddlers are feeling this way, the best thing for me to do is not to ignore them, but to try to react as calmly as possible, or don’t react, which is different from ignoring. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, and I surely haven’t mastered it. However, I think it helps me deal with it, and in turn, helps them to recover more quickly.
So, when my toddlers scream, even though I find it annoying as all get-out, I try (operative word: try) to remain calm while it’s happening.
Lately, the screams are from the younger one, Fuzzball, who recently started walking a few steps at a time, thus putting him firmly into the “Toddler” category, by definition.
Holy hellbuckets, can he scream! It really does pierce my eardrums, it’s so loud and high-pitched. He obviously does it to get attention. While I don’t want to give him negative attention, I don’t want to give him no attention, either.
Here’s some advice from Janet Lansbury’s blog regarding screaming and tantrums. She writes in response to a letter from the mother of a 15-month-old, who seems to share this explosive hobby.
…though it hurts your ears, it’s not unsafe for him. It’s an earsplitting way to express himself, but it doesn’t come under the heading of Unacceptable Behavior. Not for a 15-month-old. They key is to react to the scream as little as possible, preferably not at all.
With screaming (or shouting or whining), I believe it best to remain unfazed, but stay present and just wait. Instead of asking “What’s wrong?”, I would just say as calmly as possible, “When you’re done, I can try to help you.” Have that be your attitude: I’m here for you. I’m waiting. I’m not going to get wound up. Sometimes you won’t say anything, you’ll just wait….
…I know, I know, I know it’s hard not to react when it’s so loud and catches you by surprise. Go ahead and hold your ears, but do it calmly. It’s okay if you have a little reaction, but then try to compose yourself so (baby) doesn’t feel too uncomfortably powerful. The sooner it becomes an uninteresting, ineffective, unthreatening (to your sanity) thing to do, the sooner he’ll be able to stop doing it, or at least do it less often.
It’s really hard not to ask your toddler “what’s wrong?” even though he most likely won’t be able to express it anyway, but it’s just what we’re conditioned to do. I find myself asking it all the time, out of habit.
This post also included an interesting video on the subject of tantrums. Check it out!
Photo Credit: Arjen Toet/Flickr
Read Babble’s Nonverbal Communication Tips on getting through to your toddler!