10 answers

How Do You Stop a Screaming Child?

My 13 month old daughter has started this shrill and extremely loud screaming when she is upset or even when she gets excited. It was not so bad when she was just enjoying herself and having fun. That may be where we made our mistake, we thought it was cute she was expressing herself with this loud yelp. Well the yelp progressed into this shrill shreaking that she does when she is having fun but also has begun using it when she is upset or not getting her way. It is very annoying and I don't know exactly how to tame it since I have never had a child with this situation before. I try to ignore it in hopes that not reinforcing it, whether positiver or negative, will make it stop, but that has not worked. Anyone have any experience with this sort of thing and has made the screaming stop??????

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My niece did this at about the same age, and my sister-in-law came up with a brilliant approach she called the silent scream. Whenever her daughter did the loud scream she would exaggeratedly pretend to scream along with her, but with no noise, holding her hands out, rolling her eyes, the whole thing, and then by just putting her hand to her lips, not saying shush, but acting it out, her daughter eventually got the idea to make no sound at all. Just acting out the scream without sound became the fun part and had the pleasant outcome of being able to reduce a room full of adults to belly laughs when her mom would say, Come on, Mady, let's silent scream for them!

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Both of my daughters did this. For the most part we completely ignored them when they did it. (Hard to do!) I got the idea from our dog training class, where they said the way to get your dog to stop jumping on you was to turn your head away, refuse to make eye contact, and refuse to acknowledge the dog until they stop jumping. So... with the shrill shreiking, I'd turn my head away and not interact at all until the baby was done with the shriek. As I recall the phase passed in a week or two in both cases. Good luck, I hope your eardrums survive!

Dear D.,

She's learned that screaming is O.K. and even though she is little/young, she knows she can get a reaction. A screaming child in public (unless there is something really wrong), is a PAIN for you and everyone around you. If have been in restaurants (fast food and upscale), where the parents use the "IGNORE THEM THEORY." This is wrong. To get your daughter to start to undetstand that screaming is not going to be acceptable, start at home. When she starts up, stop what your doing, (even if you have to turn the stove off), pick her up and take her to her room, talk to her a little ("calm down, no screaming". Put her in the crib...leave. Check in five minutes or so. If she's still screaming, talk and leave.
When my son was little my mother thought everything he did was Soooo cute. I thought he was pretty cute too, but people that weren't related to him, didn't come out to have him running all over or screaming. So when he acted up in public, I decided early on not tot subject others to my childs behavior...if I was in a store, I would go sit in the car until he calmed down. If I was in a restaurant, I'd have them pack up my food and leave. By the time he was 3 or 4, he was welcome in five star restaurants. We had one favorite place in San Jose and if we came without him, they would always ask why we didn't bring him.

It's up to you how much you can stand -- I never made a big deal out of it - my youngest was this way -- because I had no voice when I was young and I wanted my kids to have a voice.

That son has always been very aware and is practically a genius and very well-adjusted. He's 14 now and doesn't scream anymore, by the way. Maybe your kid is really smart too.

D.,
I have a 2 1/2 year old son who loves to scream just because he loves to hear himself scream (I think). I used to ask him nicely to "not scream please," but he just did it more. This may sound TOTALLY crazy but this works now: While he is in his screaming mode, I say " LOUDER, LOUDER." He will usually scream a few more times then. the thrill is gone. I only do this at home, not in public. While we are out, I remind him that are not supposed to scream and behave like a big boy. This technique of mine has been working for about a year now. Maybe give it a try????
T.

I know you said you tried to ignore it, but this is really what made my daughter stop. SHe still screeches sometimes when she is running around and having fun. I would just absolutely not engage with her whatsoever if she screached in anger (but usually after I calmly said "Do not scream."). Sometimes I would just turn my back and leave the room and let her get even madder. It is important not to get tense or stress out.

It never got to the point where she did it in public though...Hope you can work this out! Sorry I dont have any better advice.

My niece did this at about the same age, and my sister-in-law came up with a brilliant approach she called the silent scream. Whenever her daughter did the loud scream she would exaggeratedly pretend to scream along with her, but with no noise, holding her hands out, rolling her eyes, the whole thing, and then by just putting her hand to her lips, not saying shush, but acting it out, her daughter eventually got the idea to make no sound at all. Just acting out the scream without sound became the fun part and had the pleasant outcome of being able to reduce a room full of adults to belly laughs when her mom would say, Come on, Mady, let's silent scream for them!

Hi D.,

To stop the screaming, I tell my son in a soft voice that he must stop screaming. If that doesn't work, then I start whispering. He is interested in what I am saying, so he stops just long enough to try to listen. Then I tell him if he is not ready to stop screaming, he can go into timeout and scream there. That works most of the time. Then I tell him that he can come out when he is quiet. I know its hard not to want to yell and tell them to stop screaming, but you have to bring their level down. He usually quiets down within about 2 min. and then comes out and gives me a hug. Good luck to you and hang in there!

M.

I think you are right for not reacting to the screeching. If you do then she sees that it gets her attention whether good or bad. Obviously, you want to attend to her if she's really in need. But I say keep doing what you're doing and she will get tried of it or outgrow the behavior. I don't think there much else you can do. She's not a puppy, so you can't squirt her with water ; )

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