25 answers

Screaming 1 Year Old

I have a 1 year old boy that screams all the time! It is not like a crying scream it's just a very loud scream. I have no idea what to do about it. I have asked the doctor if this is normal. He claims it is. He suggest I try to ignore it. I have done that with no luck. I also have a 4 year old boy that never did anything like this. I am getting to the point where I don't want to go in public with him becuase he just screams the whole time. It has gotten so bad when he does this I am going through the diaper bag giving him anything and everything just so he will be quiet. I am trying so hard to describe this and I don't think I'm doing a good job of how bad it really it. The scream is a very loud about 10 seconds long scream. He will do it over and over again. He started to do this a few months ago. I would love to hear any advice from anyone who has any idea what I am talking about. Thank you so much if you can help!

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my 18 month old daughter does this and it drives me insane, esp when i'm driving. i tried to ignore her and it worked for about, oh, 35 nanoseconds. it finally got so bad i had to tap her on the leg and say "NO!" very firmly and that nipped it in the bud pretty quickly. DON'T cater to the screaming with toys; it reinforces the behavior. good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Completly normal. More than likely he has discovered that he has a voice and is learning how to use it. Have you tried just putting him in his crib when he starts and walking away. If no one is paying attention to him, more that likely he will stop. Dont give him things to "shut him up" that will hinder his speech from developing if he know that all he has to do is scream and someone will come a runnin'.

I would put a playpen in the corner and when he starts it consistently put him there for a time out. He will soon connect the scream with the playpen and realize that it is not as much fun as being free to play. Also, do not reward the screaming with everything out of the diaper bag. He has found his voice and it gets a cool reaction so it is fun and he will continue until it is not fun for him.

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my 18 month old daughter does this and it drives me insane, esp when i'm driving. i tried to ignore her and it worked for about, oh, 35 nanoseconds. it finally got so bad i had to tap her on the leg and say "NO!" very firmly and that nipped it in the bud pretty quickly. DON'T cater to the screaming with toys; it reinforces the behavior. good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Some children do things like this for "negative" reinforcement and they always get exactly what they are looking for. Providing your child has nothing wrong like ear aches, sickness, or any other ailments then it is time for you to look into the way kids that are hyperactive are taught as they like to use this form of action to get attention. Talk to some teachers and look for books to give you a way to work this to your advantage not his. It means you will teach him that you are in control not him and he will learn not to do some things-but keep watching as he sounds very cleaver and will work his "magic" on you to get what he wants. Good luck and remember you are the Mom and the one to teach him not the other way around.

I watched a little girl that was about 14 months old (I'd had her since she was 6 wks)& she picked up this horrible shrill scream & it was no apparent reason, she wasn't mad or anything. She did this constantly & it was ear piercing. The problem I had was her mother thought it was funny & would shriek back! I just gave her a firm NO & a serious look, then turned away & she would stop mid-scream/shriek. She quit after about 2-3 months. I feel for you! Hope you find something that works or he outgrows it.

It sounds to me like your son has found his volume button. LOL! I really don't think their is anything you can do. My son does it all the time! Eventually they all learn how to be quieter, but at 1 they have no concept of inside and outside voices.

My son did this, too.
I screamed back at him a few times, and he really liked to imitate my screams (higher pitched, lower pitched, with vibrato, without). He was experimenting with his voice, and I let him... at home. Also at home, because he liked imitating me, I would make other "noises" with my mouth... opening and closing my mouth to make a noise without voice, sticking out my tongue, etc. He would do it quietly, and I encouraged him. That way I could take him out and know I could distract him with quiet mouth experimentation.
Good luck!

Scream back. My daughter will be 1 in less than 2 weeks and she's trying so hard to speak. Screaming is just her way of trying to communicate. When we're at home, in the car, at grandma's, I scream back. I don't scream back in a blood curdling way. I just try to communicate with her in her own language so to speak. Some times we'll have a 10 or 20
minute conversation like that. When we're out in public and it's innappropriate to scream back to her, I make a point to still respond to her. She's communicating the only way she can for now.

I hear ya gurl. I have two boys. Our first son never was that loud until our second decided he wanted to use outside voice all the time. Screaming, the one that just drives you up the wall. I found that talking to them in a whisper helped to teach outside voice from inside. It sounds funky but hey it worked for us. I think that it is something that they just go through too though. Good luck hang in there it will stop.

I had the same problem with my youngest who is going to be 2 in July. I know that it is hard to listen to and it seems like he is never going to stop, but let me tell you, it is just a phase and he will eventually stop. My son did this for almost 6 months and we just kept ignoring it. It seemed like if we acknowledged the issue he would get even worse. Almost like it was a game to him. My ped. told us that it is just the child discovering he has a voice and not being sure how exactly to use it. I can promise you that this will get better, but until then Good Luck!

read your request and didn't have an answer... openend my next e-mail and there was an answer... maybe it'll help! :)

How do I get my toddler who loves to shriek to turn down the volume?
Expert Answers
Patricia Henderson Shimm, parent educator and author
Your toddler's volume is turned way up not because she means to annoy you, but because she's full of that wonderful toddler joie de vivre. She's exploring the power of her voice, experimenting with what she can do with it. If you can help it, try not to comment or criticize. But if it's really getting to you, ask her to use her "indoor voice" and stop yelling. Calmly say, "I can't stand the screaming, honey. It's giving me a big headache." Shrieking right back at her to stop won't help; it'll only send her the message that the louder one prevails. You might also try making a game of it. Indulge her need to be loud by saying, "Let's both shriek as loud as we can," and then join her in letting it rip. Then turn down the volume by saying, "Now it's time to see who can whisper best." Then, like a Simon Says game, switch to other movements, such as putting hands over ears or jumping up and down. This'll make screaming seem like just one of many fun things she can do.
Toddlers, especially firstborns, also scream because they want their parents' attention. It's their way of saying, "Hey, look at me." Your child may raise her voice while you and your partner talk to divert your attention back to her. In this case, devise a signal (a raised finger, for example) that says to her that you know she wants to speak but she'll have to wait a few seconds. Explain this to her ahead of time. The next time she screams, don't reward her by interrupting your conversation — instead flash the signal, finish your thought, then turn to her. If she manages to wait without throwing a tantrum, reward her with praise. If she ignores the signal, remind her what it means and try again next time.
Community Answers
Once I realized that getting her to stop was nearly impossible I started to copy my daughter by shrieking with my mouth closed and she soon followed. Now that the sound is muffled she can still happily make the noise without sounding like a five alarm fire. It was a good compromise for us.

GOOD LUCK! :) :) :)

When my younger brother was around 1 he would cry and scream alot. When we would sit down to have dinner he would really scream. The dr. said it was his temperment. One day I was changing his diaper and he was giggling then started the screaming. I saw that his teeth were really dark and chipped. He would never let Mom brush his teeth with out a scream fit so she just gave up on the brushing. We ended up going to a pediatric dentist. He said the reason he was screaming so much was that his teeth were rotten, when the air hit his teeth it also hit the nerve causing pain. They decided to put him under general anestetic (sp?)and pull all those rotten teeth. After that the screaming only happened during temper tantrums! I hope this helps. It sounds like a pain scream. When they are little they cannot verbalize pain or discomfort. Just remember you are your childs advocate.

My son did the same thing at about the same age. Although it can be VERY annoying it is very normal. Everyone told me that he was probably just facinated that he was able to do it and thought it sounded cool to him. I know it's hard, but you really just have to ignore it. If you have to just try to keep yourself busy. I got to the point were I didn't even hear it and my boyfriend would be like "Would you make him be queit!!!" and I would be like "What... oh. I didn't even realize he was doing it" On a better note it didn't last all that long. Hang it there. This is one of many "weird" phases your son will go through.

oooh J....i'm there too! my son discovered the ability to SHRIEK at the top of his lungs at about 1 also...i ignored it for the most part...he is a very high energy boy, let me tell you. for him he was just excited he could make this new god-awful noise. it has gotten better as his vocab has improved - he now knows "scream!" and i'll tell him honey please don't scream, we don't scream in the house...etc...i've tried to teach him when he does it, by whispering to him, "ssshh...let's whisper!" and that sometimes works because he thinks that's fun too. i don't have much advice because he still does it occasionally, but between me and the sitter i think we've shown him it's not a desired thing at all. he doesn't get positive attention when he does it. i'll either ignore it, or give him a stern look and tell him that's not nice...he's getting the message. it's the worst when he does it in public places, which is when i'm a little more negative about it. i wish i had a quicker fix - he's 20 months and still bursts out occasionally...but it'll get better if you're consistent and firm. good luck!

When mine did it, they didn't do it long. I made a grimacing face and put my hands over my ears and said, "That hurts Mommy's ears. Ouch!" They don't want to hurt you or that isn't the reaction they are looking for, so it didn't take long for them to stop.

Sweetheart, I can identify. My 1st son seldom cried unless something was wrong. My 2nd son seemed to cry every evening starting the minute my husband walked into the house. Fortunately, I had a wonderful doctor. I called him one night and told him that this child was distroying my home, marriage, and peace of mind. He immediately prescribed medication that helped my son to sleep. Please if you have to, change doctors. Until you have a screaming child on your hands that cannot be comforted, you cannot understand the frustration, guilt, helplessness, and even anger that a mother feels.
It is so easy to let things get out of control. Again talk to your doctor; find a relative, friend, etc. to come to your house and help with the child and help to relieve some of the tension from you. Pray. To this day, I still do not know why my son cried the way he did. However, he has grown up to be the sweetest, most loveable man and is very successful. Just remember there is a rainbow hiding behind the clouds.

I have no advice, but I am in the same boat with my 22 month old boy! He is a shrieker. He screams at the top of his lungs about everything, and nothing. My 3 1/2 year old daughter never did this, but now will scream if he does. It is driving me and my husband nuts!!

I have no idea what to do about it. I am like you, I try distractions, food, books, toys, whatever I can think of. Nothing is effective for long. I no longer take him to the store, I have my parents watch him when I need to go. Church has become a nightmare. Even in the 'cry' room he is awful sometimes.

I guess just hang in there. Hopefully this is something they will outgrow as they learn to communicate better. :)

Completly normal. More than likely he has discovered that he has a voice and is learning how to use it. Have you tried just putting him in his crib when he starts and walking away. If no one is paying attention to him, more that likely he will stop. Dont give him things to "shut him up" that will hinder his speech from developing if he know that all he has to do is scream and someone will come a runnin'.

My 6 year old did the same thing when he was one and four I just had to sit him in a chair or on his bed untill he figuared out he had to stop without giving him what he wants. You already started giving him what he wants so he knows he can get away with it. It will tak at least a week. after he calms down talk to him and tell him if he continues he will stay there longer. Start off with 2 mins. It worked for both of my boys.

A little bit about myself:
Im a Divorced stay at home with mom with a 11 year old and a 6 year old boys.

Does he only do this at certain times or places? Some kids do get over stiumlated - and screaming may be his only way to communicate something is wrong.(Could there be something in the environment that he is sensitive to that you aren't even aware of?)

I tend to be a parent who doesn't believe that young children do things to 'manipulate' their parents so that guides what I do. (Which means avoiding the idea of punitive responses or negative reinforcement)

Also, even experts who advocate the use of time out only recommend one minute per year of age. And I am not sure there are many who would recommend it at one year.

I know that with my oldest we focused on indoor/outdoor voice and when she would get loud I would take her outside and say "outdoor voice" ...then take her indoors when she quieted down and model indoor voice.

Whispering back also works - I think b/c it is so unusual -- since the instinct is to yell back they tend to tune it out....

I know what you mean its not screaming exactly more like screeching, all three of my grand kids did the same thing when they were between 1 and 2. at home I just ignored it but out in public I would put my hands over my ears and said (no no hurts Nammas ears) they would usually giggle and stop. It is just there way of checking out their voices. Multiply that by 2 and you know what I go thru with my twin grand babies (17months old) when they get into a screaming contest. Mostly it is a happy noise not a mad or hurt noise,so just be glad they have voice to make it with some babys are deaf and mute.

I know exactly what he is doing, not been there myself, but have friends with kids that just SCREAM. have u tried to lightly flick his lips, get his attention off screaming. tell him NO NO, no scream, just covering the mouth does not help.
At one, he is trying out his voice in the manner he thinks works, IT does get your attention quick. IS why he does it.
You just have to be stren, and follow thru with what works, DON't give in , that is what he wants. it will only get worse if you do not work at it steady to get it stopped. COMMON sense, not what the books say, works best.

Completely normal! Your son has discovered a different way to use his voice. My daughter went through that too... then she went on to making other noises, right now she's learned to growl. I disagree with the other poster... this is not something you should be disciplining him for - besides timeout at 1 year old isn't effective, he's way too young. Continue to do what you're doing - try to redirect or distract him (toys might not be a good idea though), but try not to draw attention to his screaming, he might be enjoying your reaction. He'll grow out of this soon enough (probably only to be replaced by some other less than desirable behavior), until then, just try to grin and bear it. ;)

Hi J.,
I work with toddlers and I have seen some kids do this at this age. It depends what sets off the screaming--is it when he is mad, frustrated, or want's something, or is it just randomly and for seemingly no reason? Most of the time when I have seen this, it seems to be because kids this age can understand much more than they can actually speak and it is frustrating for them that they don't have words. They know they want to say something, but they aren't quite sure how to do it, along with having very strong emotions and wants/needs, it often comes out as a scream.

If this is actually the cause of his screaming, something you can do to help is to help him learn a few simple words like "help" "mine" "no" etc. If he has a few words that he can use it might help to lessen the screaming. To help him learn these words, when you see that he is just beginning to get upset, tell him, "say, 'help'" or "say, 'mine.'" Keep it positive in your tone. He might not be able to say new words right away, but when he is able, these will be good tools for him to have.

It might also help for you to verbalize what you think he might be feeling. Such as, "I know you are feeling sad that..." or "I understand that makes you feel angry..." or even "That makes you really happy, doesn't it!" The more parents and caregivers talk to their children, studies show that the more verbal skills they have (but of course this varies from child to child). So, talking to him about everything you can think of, including his feelings, might help with his language skills (I'm not saying he should have a lot of language skills at this age, but talking to him a lot now can help).

Another thing that might help is to teach him some baby signs if he is not ready to use words just yet. This also helps babies relieve some frustration in communication. There are lots of websites about baby signs and you could focus on the one's that you think he would use the most, like "more," "milk," etc. One important thing about baby signs is that you really have to SAY the word along with the hand motion so that they learn the spoken word as well and don't rely on just motions to communicate.

If it seems to be for no apparent reason and it doesn't sound like he is in pain, maybe he is just experimenting with his voice. You may also want to make sure he doesn't have an ear ache, tooth ache from teething, or some other kind of pain.

Best wishes!

Hi J.,

I have an unconventional method that you might consider... :o) And it works!

Consider your 1 year old's scream to be akin to a tantrum. He might not be screaming because he isn't getting his way (or at least not all the time), but he IS doing it because it is an attention-getter. He likes getting a reaction....ANY reaction from the people around him. It doesn't matter if it is a positive or negative reaction, it's still a reaction. I'm sure the look on your face when he screams is enough for him..."Look!...Mommy's eyes bulge out and she clenches her jaw and makes a funny face! Wheeee!"

So...how do you stop this problem in its tracks? Easy. You have to make the reaction to his scream a whole lot less interesting.

This is the same technique that has been handed down in my family for generations...but it is usually used for tantrums. It usually only takes one time for the child to get the point...but it may take as many as three. Stick to this and I'll bet you'll stop this problem...

Take a small cup (I like Dixie cups) and put about 2-3 inches of water in it. Put it in the fridge and let it get nice and cold. Reeeeaallly cold (but don't use ice!). Make sure it is easily accessable.

When your adorable little one starts in on his series of shrieks, go to the fridge and get that cup of cold water. Hide it.

The most important point here is that he should NEVER see it.

Put the cup behind your back and walk up to him confidently. When his face is screwed up in the middle of a scream, dash that water right into it. (Don't worry that he might choke...he won't. He's breathing out in order to scream.)

Hide that cup behind your back and never let him see it. I suggest you use a Dixie cup, since you can immediately crumple it up.

This will stop the scream immediately and he'll probably freak out a little bit and start crying. Don't coddle him too much, and don't talk to him (and don't feel too bad...especially since this is going to stop the problem!)....just go and get a towel and clean him up. If you feel like you have to say something, say "Oh NO! What happened? Were you screaming? Uh oh!" Give him a hug and send him on his way....but act like the whole thing never happened. Don't explain....let his little mind work it all through. It won't take long for his logic to figure out that screaming equals a cold surprise...

A couple of added points: For this to work you can NEVER threaten. He shouldn't know where it comes from or why...Never say "If you don't stop screaming, I'm going to get the water" or, "If you scream, I'll do this!" The consequence should not even be related to you (this will save you a guilt trip, too). Never talk about the water or the screaming in front of him. He should never know that you had anything to do with it.

I hope this works out for you...even though it's an odd method, it is tried and tested...

Good luck!


I would put a playpen in the corner and when he starts it consistently put him there for a time out. He will soon connect the scream with the playpen and realize that it is not as much fun as being free to play. Also, do not reward the screaming with everything out of the diaper bag. He has found his voice and it gets a cool reaction so it is fun and he will continue until it is not fun for him.

Both of my children were/are yellers/screamers. I tried the ingoring route with my first, but it is just now starting to wean and he is four years old. I don't want that to happen with my 17 month old, and she has just started the screaming/yelling in the last week. It is clear that it is a manipulation tactic when she doesn't get what she wants.

I look her square in the eyes and firmly tell her to "stop", "that it is enough", etc. and then walk away. I try not to raise my voice because I don't want to encourage the action. If she continues, I isolate her in her room or time out spot until she is finished. It is just too much for the rest of us to bear when she gets started. If she does stop, I praise her with verbal words or physically hug her so she receives attention for the appropriate behavior.

I have tried distractions, ignoring, etc. but my children are just too strong-willed to stop it on their own. I know that this might seem harsh on a one year old, but I don't want to deal with this for another three years so I am trying a different technique. It seems to be working for now, but who knows what will end up within the next three years.

Good luck, I feel your pain! I'm not sure if yours is manipulation and how many months he is, but they do begin to understand what mom/dad says and can mind.

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