K.J. asks from Hillsboro, OR on July 09, 2009
Squealing Toddler - Hillsboro,OR
My almost 2 year old boy has started squealing and we don't know how to get him to stop. He does it even when he already has our attention, so we don't think it is solely an attention getting strategy. It does get slightly worse when he is tired, but otherwise there doesn't seem to be a pattern. We have tried taking him outside and squealing with him to show him that we only squeal outside. This backfired when he decided that he could squeal to get outside! We have tried explaining indoor and outdoor voices, as well as changing the subject to distract him and time out. When he squeals during a meal we have told him that he will have to eat by himself because we don't squeal at the table and then have turned his chair away from us and ignored the squealing. He understands that he isn't supposed to do it and will say "all done" when he wants to come back, but will then squeal again! I get that he is almost 2 and testing the limits, but our patience is wearing thin and his baby sister is scared to death when he squeals. Ideas?
2 moms found this helpful
L.B. answers from Seattle on July 10, 2009
Our boy (2years old) started squealing at about a year and we couldn't figure out why either. We finally were able to narrow it down to teeth- they were bothering him and he wasn't able to articulate what was going on, so he squealed. Also, we've discovered, if he starts being naughty or exhibiting behavior unlike him, he's either tired or his teeth are bothering him and he can't figure out how to tell us. We found that saying no in a stern voice or trying to do time outs with the shrieking didn't work, it only made it worse. Some times I could get him to stop with offering a story or singing a familiar song, but usually a dose of tylenol helped the most. Especially if the shrieking was persistent. I am not a huge advocate of drugs or anything, but the tylenol really worked! Allergies might be a factor too. Hope this helps!
1 mom found this helpful
E.C. answers from Portland on July 10, 2009
I am dealing with more of a shriek than a squeal with my 18 month daughter. We have been trying to curb it for about a month. In the car, last week, when she was shrieking my husband asked her to sing a song and would comment on her pretty voice. Amazingly, it worked. So, now we just ask her to sing and sing Baa Baa Black sheep right along with her. Obviously, because of her age, she is more humming and lalalaing than singing. The shrieking isnt eliminated but greatly reduced.
P.M. answers from Portland on July 09, 2009
Oh, does this bring back a smile and a cringe. My daughter had an extremely shrill squeal that started around the age of 2, as I recall, and lasted for months before gradually fading out. It seemed she just liked to make that sound. I'm sensitive to noise, so I would stuff my ears with tissues.
There are soft foam earplugs available now – I strongly suggest you get a package or two. Maybe even cut one in half and see if your daughter will tolerate them. But she may simply get used to the noise and stop reacting. (Or, oh dread, start squealing herself.)
It seemed to me then that it was better to ignore it most of the time. If I gave no response at all, my daughter got bored with it after two or three shrieks. Occasionally, I would tell her gently that it was so loud it hurt mama's ears, and because she was a cheerful and tender soul, that would generally stop it, for awhile. If this has an effect on your son, you might gently remind him that he is scaring his little sister, which should be obvious if she cries. You have probably already pointed out that you protected him from things that scared him when he was that young, and so you'd like him to be careful for his sister.
But little ones forget, especially when they are excited about some new power or capability they have discovered. Testing limits is part of what they are doing, perhaps, but I think it's more the thrill of discovering cause and effect. And going for the biggest possible effects!
Distractions are good. And as you have noticed, they do have their limitations. There are just a lot of behaviors our children try and try again, and the attraction to the behavior is sometimes stronger than the consequences. For awhile, a month, a year. Then they are on to something else.
Good luck, K.. It really sounds like you are doing all the right things. One last tip, I would keep my voice low when I talk to him after a squeal. Raising your voice might only reinforce the energy of "loud." You might come up with a list of "secrets" that would intrigue him, and tell him softly in his ear. If you can tell he's gearing up for a squeal, that would be a good time to divert him.
E.W. answers from Seattle on July 10, 2009
I believe in spanking when a child disobeys, so if my child did that after I told them not to I would have calmly gotten out my switch and given them a lick. Then I would say let's try again. Repeat if necessary (usually not.). I have found it to be a very effective teaching tool.
However, the elaborate efforts you have already gone through to try and get your child not to squeal imply that you probably do not believe in spanking. All I can say it that the general principle of child training is to make the consequence for undesirable actions disagreeable enough that the child would rather not do them anymore. This must be done so that they understand the connection between the behavior and the consequence.
Sounds like your consequences have not been undesirable ENOUGH. He really doesn't care about your consequences enough to have been influenced at all. What about sending him to another room entirely and saying he has lost the privilege of being in the same room with you because he cannot keep his voice down. Reassure him that he will get another chance in a few minutes to try again, but right now, you want him to practice in THAT room how to stay quiet. Then in a few minutes, say, would you like to try again? Let him in again but if he screams, same consequence, but longer this time.
Time to get a backbone. he will be testing your limits for the next 16 years, with far more serious issues.
W.C. answers from Seattle on July 10, 2009
Try doing this, every time he squeals, turn your backs to him and walk out of the room. Every one should. When he stops squealing, return, no smiles or congratulations-just business as usual.
This is behavioral modification, without m&ms, just your presence. The important part is to return without smiles or contrats. Just business as usual. If you are returning with smiles and contrats you are reinforcing the squeals. By returning without smiles, you are not reinforcing the squeals.
If he follows you put him in his room and tell him to squeal in there. Get one of those lock from Baby R Us. When he is done squealing, let him out again without smiling so you don't reinforce the squealing. Then go about your business.