My toddler screams.
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. Seuss 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.