12 answers

2-Year Old Screaming

I have a 2-year old daughter that tends to scream when she doesn't get her own way. I know that at this age they have a hard time expressing their needs and wants but the screaming can get out of control and I've tried to make it stop but I am not sure what to do. My daycare provider puts her in a naughty chair when she screams and is trying to work with her. At home it doesn't happen as much but probably more at the daycare - she's in a private daycare and there is one girl her age and another a bit younger. I just need some advice on possible techniques to make her stop screaming.

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When my kids were small and they would scream I would gently blow in their face. It makes them stop and catch their breath and I take that time to remind them "Inside voice please" If she is throwing a fit, then time out is needed and I would let her scream in time out telling her that time starts when she quiets down. Remember 1 minute for every year.. a 2 year old should only have 2 minutes of actual time out.

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I would do the same thing that the school is doing. Repeat repeat repeat. We had the same issue with our kids, and after a while they got tired of going in the corner, or the time out chair (or their crib, depending on age). They get attention from the screaming, and if they are separated from everyone else then they aren't getting the attention. It works if you stick with it.

One thing that has really helped me a lot in working with kids is this: If they have a behavior that you don't want, figure out what they're trying to get from you with that behavior--and do the opposite. If the screams are to get more attention, then ignore her for a few minutes, and then give her lots of attention when she's quiet. Some kids find it entertaining when we explode, so for those kids just smiling and turning away works wonders.

One of the best tips I ever got for disciplining little ones; regardless of the behavior:

Put them on time out on a chair or stool...Right in the middle of the room. Make sure any TVs are off. Helps if the rest of the family continues to engage in other fun activities that the chair-bound child cannot. Feel free to look at them (kind of like we look at animals in the zoo).

Sounds silly but works way better than a time out in their in their room. And honestly after about 2-3 times, my little ones rarely had time-out worthy behavior.

And rest assured, it can be modified for public forums. If she wants to scream in public; for example, a restaurant, ask her to get up out of her chair and stand to the side of the table and let her know she is on a time-out and that everyone else in the restaurant knows it. Don't worry -- It hardly constitutes traumatizing public humiliation since screaming in public is far more humiliating than a time-out.

Hi C.:
I agree with the advice you have been given, ignore the behavior. How you do that is up to you, you can put her in her room, in a time out chair, what ever works for you in your home. I would also like to ask however, how skilled is she in her communication? If she seems to be delayed and her coordination is a bit off and she just has meltdowns easily, she may fall into the autisim spectrum. Look up some info online and talk to her pediatrician. Early detection is key to getting her the help she needs.

When my kids were small and they would scream I would gently blow in their face. It makes them stop and catch their breath and I take that time to remind them "Inside voice please" If she is throwing a fit, then time out is needed and I would let her scream in time out telling her that time starts when she quiets down. Remember 1 minute for every year.. a 2 year old should only have 2 minutes of actual time out.

Is her screaming a quick reaction to not getting her own way? Or is she actually throwing a big fit? From what you said, I understand it to be the first. Maybe a way to look at it is that it is the way that she tells you she doesn't like how things turned out. I think some of your responses gave good advice for a fit, but I think what you have is improper method of communicating. It's very different. Does your daughter talk much? Every single one of my children (that makes 10) did this, though for most it was a little earlier than 2. We NEVER give them what they were screaming for. We tell them every time, "no, we don't scream." We help them verbalize what they want (and give it to them immediately when they verbalize it well if it was something we would normally have given them.) We take deep breaths and try to ignore the screams themselves. I guess, in a nutshell, you need to determine whether this is a behavior she is choosing to do--in which case you need to provide motivation for her to choose a better behavior, or whether it is a response that flies out of her--in which case you need to teach her some more pleasing options for expressing herself.

[I am a mother of two teenage girls and have been in elementary education for pushing 20 years with 6 as principal.]

It sounds like your 2 yr. old is going through a normal stage. This is good. Your response will be critical for health maturation. It is important that you NEVER give a child what they want during a tantrum. When it 'works' for them they learn that screaming is an acceptable behavior. On the other hand, don't resort to sreaming back or physically punishing the child. Then they learn that is acceptable behavior.

It sounds like your daycare person knows what they are doing. Ride it out. If you need to move the child to a safe or calmer place do so with as little physical contact as possible. When the tantrum is OVER try to help your child find the words to express what they want. If reasonable help them get it. If it is not reasonable or acceptable be the adult, say no and stick to that.

Children who do not get firm and consistent parenting at various developmental stages lack the skills to be successful in school. Every year there are kindergarteners across the country learning the word 'no' for the first time.

Good luck and be strong. You will save yourself endless hours of grief later by being firm and calm today:)

I like to bring my toddler's focus to her breathing. I suck in air through my nose and blow it out my mouth, showing her how to do it. I say things like, "I don't understand you when you're screaming. Let me help you get more calm, and then you can tell me what's wrong. Breathe in, blow out. That's it! Blow out that air - pbhlttt!! (this can produce surprise, and sometimes even, giggles) That's feeling better! Breathe in... good, blow out - pphhbltttt! Let's find some words for you to use to tell me why you're mad, sad, hurt, etc..."

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