29 answers

My 1 Year Old Won't Quit Screaming!

My son will be one year old on Feb 6th. He's recently taken on the most annoying habit of screaming at the top of his lungs when he wants something or wants your attention. Even after he has it he keeps screaming and then laughs like he thinks it's the funniest thing ever. I've been told that he's just doing it because he's learning to use his voice and the "power" that it has. We've tried talking low or in a whisper to him like some experts suggest but it's not working. We've also tried the "use your inside voice" approach but it doesn't work well when the little guy has no idea what we're saying. Any suggestions? HELP! I'm afraid I may run out of hair before we can break him of it!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

When my daughter was going thru that stage I was advised by her Dr. to put something she didn't like on my fingertip and then put it in her mouth. It doesn't need to be soap, or anything like that. It can be mouthwash, a food she doesn't like that is kind of bitter, mild hot sauce, any thing that she didn't like the taste of. It only took once or twice before she got the idea. Then all you have to do is show them the bottle and that's all it takes.

I have a 2 1/2 year old little boy and let me tell you, little boys have more energy than they even know what to do with. I do have the same problem with him yelling and have tried the same things. One thing I have found that seems to be working for me right now, is I won't give him what he wants until he asks me nicely. I tell him to ask nicely and than I will listen. It seems to be working. But he will still yell not as much, but I too have been told it is a power test to see how far he can go. Hopefully I gave some good advice. But you got to love them they are so cute and watching them learn so much in a short amount of time is just amazing.

My one year old is doing the same thing! I notice he quites down if he doesn't get any reaction at all from doing it.

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It sounds like he makes you feel like giving in (this is not the universal response, but probably the most common one!). If he has discovered that _works_, you have taught him to do it again, and you will have to (fight all your instinct and) teach him otherwise.

At one, putting the kid away someplace felt like punishment (to both of us) because I was often angry/frustrated--and punishment changes the whole equation and adds emotional components that are damaging. If the baby wants something, disengaging (continue calmly with your already established activity, or if you can't be calm, leaving the room and start another non-request-related activity somewhere else) will teach him that screaming "doesn't work" (to get what he wants, which, for a baby, is NEVER "to be ignored' ;) ).

I had screamers who just thought it was fun to scream--I mean, what a turn-on, right? Look at this HUGE thing they can do! And how much MORE fun if it's not only loud, but the people around them freak out! (Sometimes hitting and biting are that innocent too--just "WOW! Check it OUT!") For that, quick consequences (which despite his young age you should tell him in advance, he'll catch some of the words and learn to recognize the reminder and logically associate (x) with (y)) often work: put him down if you are carrying him, or immediately move him to another room/his crib, or you simply "shut down" to him but stay in the same room--all of these remove the "I'm impacting people!" part of the "WOW!" For these to work, you have to not do them in anger, all of them--otherwise the situation becomes about affecting Mommy again.

And when (not if!) he does it at the store? I have finished shopping with my hand over a kid's mouth, them still screaming (be careful not to get bit, and be ready to be very slobbered). Mostly during the screaming stage I didn't take them shopping/out. But reinforcing that no "good" reactions and only annoying or boring reactions happen when they scream mostly defuses that, plus in public there are so many other things and people to see! I think that helps.

Now, when there are two or more kids, they can ramp eachother up ... and then separating (the trigger from the screamer) becomes more obvious. In your case, you just need to figure out if the trigger is you or not!

---
oh, and--sometimes violence from kids (hitting, biting, screaming) is a reaction to an event. In my kids' case, two of them get violent when they need to pee. (No joke.) So you could watch for that type of trigger too!

2 moms found this helpful

M.,
This can be the most frustrating thing. One thing I had to learn and figure out after the third child was to not give him what he wants until he says it in a quieter way. Of course this will take a little time. Keeping cool is key. I wanted ot give my first child back at 18 months I was so frustrated. Prayer each day helps too. Good luck.
S.
Mother of three girls 12,8 1/2 and 4 1/2

1 mom found this helpful

Well, this may sound weird, but we had the same issue with my 9 month old. She didn't screaming for long periods of time, but it was so loud, she didn't understand "no" yet, and I didn't know what else to do? My neighbor recommended that if she didn't stop it after the first time of asking her not to scream, was to get a spray bottle and on a mist setting, to just spray her in the face and say firmly "no screaming". It seemed strange and felt like what people do to cats when they get on the counter, but it startled her enough to get the point across. So far, it has seemed to work. Now when she gets to screaming, i just have to say "no". If she does it a second time, then I just have to show her the spray bottle and she stops. I figured that it was worth trying and probably wouldn't scar her for life. It was hard at first, but she seemed to catch on after a couple of times.

1 mom found this helpful

Oh, bummer, bummer, bummer, the lessons we end up learning. Having lived through those my-God-make-it-stop days, I can empathize with you.

Your mistake was in giving him what he wanted when he screamed for it--he now has the equation SCREAMING=getting what I want. That is very powerful, why would he ever want to give that up?

You will have to let him know that this was okay when he was 'little' but now he is getting too big to scream anywhere except in his private space, his bedroom if possible. When he screams, calmly let him know that it is fine to scream as long as he does it only in his room. Take him there and let him know that he may join the rest of the family when he is done screaming. If he comes out while he is still screaming, take him back.

This will be challenging for you because you are disrupting something that has been very powerful for him. YOu can model that screaming only happens in one room, those times when you feel like you just have to walk away, you can say, "I am going to go to my private space", then go to your room and scream. it may even release some of your frustration. And you and your husband can 'mock' that this rule applies to everyone. You can scream and your husband can explain to you that it is okay to scream as long as you only do this in your private space. Or he can scream and you can do the same. Your son will learn that this rule applies to everyone, not just to him. And he will learn that it is not him but the habit of screaming that is publicly unwanted.

1 mom found this helpful

First of all ((((hugs))).

You're doing what you can do manage this behavior, and he's trying to figure out how he can get what he wants. If he screams, and you give what he wants it's reinforcing the behavior. Keep modeling the behavior you want to see from him, speaking to him in a normal voice even when you want to scream right back. Walk away if you need to. Try to distract him by offering a favorite game, book, snack - anything to try and end the behavior without drawing more attention to it. But giving in to keep him quiet will reinforce the screaming.

What I have found is that when I get to the last hair on my head (or as my 8 yr old has said "getting on my FIRST nerve) often the very stage that has me going crazy shifts and they are on to the next big stage. Isn't that Murphy's Law? ;)

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,

You have my deepest sympathy on this one. My daughter is now 3.25 years old and finally stopped screaming at the very top of her lungs at about 2.75 when her verbal skills became very solid. Please do not pull out your hair. It will pass and it will ebb and flow. I noticed it starting around 1 year (a little before) and cycling every few months. And, yes, she too would laugh like it was so much fun at times and at others she did it hoping to get her way. Of course, you can't give in because you don't want him to think it actually works. I was always horrified. Fortunately, I notice that other mothers and fathers understand. You are not the only one who has to deal with this. It is mortifying for the parents of the child screaming but not for those of us who have been there. I now smile remembering what it was like.

You are blessed with a vocal, probably very intelligent and soon to be verbal child. It will end eventually.

Good luck and try to relax about it.

S. V.

1 mom found this helpful

I went through the same thing and still am dealing with it at times. Then I read the best book and it has changed things dramatically! Read the book, The Happiest TODDLER on the Block. Dr. Karp has a sure fire method for dealing with these screaming tantrums. It is a little silly and you feel strange doing it- especially in public, but, man, does it work! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I remember this stage (I now have a 3 and half year old). I tried really hard to not give in to him and he went into a 1 minute time out until the screaming stopped. It worked for us, it's worth a try!

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