I Cannot Get My Toddler To Stop ScreamingBeth Anne Ballance
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. 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.