Toddler Who Constantly Screams and Cries

Updated on February 25, 2008
K.F. asks from Hyattsville, MD
12 answers

One of my best friends has a young son, he will be 2 in April, and she loves him dearly of corse, but he drives her up a wall! It is very rare for him to be happy and playing for longer then 10 minutes at a time. If she asks him just simple things, like Shawn, come in the kitchen, it's time to eat dinner, he shreeks and cries for about 20 minutes. Also, he does not listen to her at all. I feel that when she reprimands him, he takes her as a joke b/c she just sounds to nice when she says it, but she says she's serious. To me, he obviously takes her as a joke b/c she will tell him no, put him in timeout, and he'll continually get up and laugh at her, for hours on end, she did put him back in time out for 2 hours the other day, to try to make him do his 2 minutes in time out, and it just got her more and more frustrated that he seems to not care. No one will ever watch him for him, the daycare (that she works at, and he goes to) says his behavior is out of control also. Please, any suggestions as to what to do with a toddler who constantly is crying and screaming, I mean constant, no matter who he is with, and also a toddler that never takes disipline seriously, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the suggestions, though he has been to the dr multiple times and nothing is wrong, he speaks, actualy spoke early, is very smart and would be considered a happy child by most, until you saw him act this way at home or in school. He apparently only acts this way with people he knows, which makes it even more strange! The doctors say it's just a phase, try and interest him in something else to take his mind off it. Personally I must say I see a bit of OCD in him, he is very structured in and of himself and is obsessed with his mother and sister! If he can not locate these to people it's constant searching, not crying but searching for hours! If anyone has any other advice other then take him to the dr, please let me know, his mom is dying to find out if anyone else out there has this kind of child also!

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M.P.

answers from Norfolk on

You need to have a stern voice with him. I know that parents now days don't do this but it works. On swat on the butt to get there attention if he doesn't listen. She needs to learn to keep from getting frustrated because he screams and cries because he knows it makes her frustrated or I call it pushing her buttons. Hope this helps.

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M.P.

answers from Norfolk on

You need to have a stern voice with him. I know that parents now days don't do this but it works. On swat on the butt to get there attention if he doesn't listen. She needs to learn to keep from getting frustrated because he screams and cries because he knows it makes her frustrated or I call it pushing her buttons. Hope this helps.

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F.S.

answers from Washington DC on

It never hurts to take them to the doctor. He could actually have something physically wrong, like a chronic ear infection. Also, has he been evaluated by the county for any kind of developmental delays? There are a multitude of things that could be triggering it, that he can't help. He also probably doesn't have the verbal skills to tell mommy what's wrong.

It could also be the way she is actually handling the situation, but I couldn't say based on your post.

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B.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Wow. So, there are so many possibilities of what is going on with this little man. My daughter is 22 months (2 in April) and I have a very spirited almost 4 year old. I am also a pediatric Occupational Therapist. Some things I pulled from this post that are concerning of this little man. First are there developmental concerns. How much language is he using (both understanding and verbalizing)? This could be a lot of why he is having such problems. Kids often laugh because they are stressed and not always in a response to the parent or to tick us off. Another thing that could possibly be a problem is that he has sensory issues and is constantly is in a state of stress. If this is going on there are things mom can do to help him. I just wonder if something else is going on with this little guy. It is not normal. Although I do have to admit timeouts for kiddos this small can be difficult. My daughter will do it, but my son had a difficult time with it. My son has also had many difficult times with transitions and sleep. Someone else asked the question, but is he getting enough sleep?? This can make things even worse too. Feel free to contact me if you have further questions.

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M.T.

answers from Washington DC on

get this poor child t a developmental pediatrician and to a child psycholgist- he and his mom needs some intervention QUICK!

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M.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Yes, she is not alone. My son is like this. If I want him to do something, I have to let him know ahead of time. 'dinner is going to be ready in a few minutes so you need to finish up. the next time i call you, you need to come eat dinner'. if i just walk in and say, 'turn off the tv now and come eat dinner' he totally freaks out. screaming, hitting, punching, the list goes on.

also, you said that he's been to the dr. to be checked. perhaps take him to a behavoirist/therapist? They could help you determine if there is some type of OCD, seperation issues

L.A.

answers from Washington DC on

If the only time he gets attention is when he screams and cries, he'll keep doing that. Now, I'm not saying that's the case, because I don't know for sure, but it's definitely something to observe. I'd give him positive reinforcement - lots of attention when he's doing well.

Sounds like the more he's punished, the worse he gets. If it doesn't work, no sense in continuing that same process and hoping it will someday.

~Liz

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C.H.

answers from Washington DC on

Prince William County has a free child screening services for developmental problems/speach issues/etc. I know one is called Child Find and there is another for either older/younger children but I don't remember the specifics. My daughter would have out-of-the-blue meltdowns that were so bad I thought she was going to permanantly loose her mind. So I brought her there wondering if she had autism or some form of it. It was a simple test - they seemed to just play with her - and they provided me with a lot of information and resources. Fortunately, there was nothing wrong with my child and they recommended a number of things that I could do to elivate her frustrations and fears. It really made a differnce for us. I had my "normal" son also tested there to make sure I wasn't missing something and I'll be bringing my baby in when he's a little older hopefully just for the reassurance. Thank you for being a friend by helping to find resources for your friend.

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A.H.

answers from Washington DC on

The very first thing I would ask is how much sleep is he getting at night and during the day. That could easily be the source of constant meltdowns.

The second thing I would ask is how much stimulation is he getting during the day. Is he cooped up in the house all day? Another source of meltdowns...boredom.

My suggestion-and people won't like this, but-it's when he is put in time out, stand right behind him with her knee in his back so he cannot get up. Not forcefully enough to hurt him, but with enough force so he can't get up. And tell her to use her angry voice right down at his level! That little boy needs to have a healthy fear of his parents and just words alone aren't gonna cut it.

And she should watch SuperNanny.

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A.S.

answers from Norfolk on

I just went through this with my three year old. For him he needed structure and clear boundaries. My dearest friend helped me to make a schedule and we've been sticking to it and his behavior problems have all but disappeared. My advice would be to make sure he's spending enough time with mom first; has a good routine and clear boundaries second; and then if that doesn't work to have him evaluated by a ped and/or behavioral therapist as he could have some sensory issues. Good luck!

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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

What does the Dr. say?

They no doubt will want to give him "medication" ie drugs which will not help him learn about dealing with life.

It sounds like he might be overstimulated. Does he do better if he is in the woods? How does he do in the bathtub? Sometimes a good healthy distraction like a bit of blowing bubbles calms a child and this could be used to encourage "good" behaivior. Use things that he likes to encourage good behavior. I can only hope this helps as it sounds complicated.

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K.H.

answers from Dover on

First off...her discpline could work, but it is clear it is not working for him. Learning what discipline works for what child can take some time to figure out...and it changes as they do! I would suggest your friend to read up on positive ways to discipline her son, so that she could start trying out a few different things...and I bet something else will work for him better. In my opinion, 2 hours for a toddler in time out is WAY too long...does not good. They forget what it was all about to begin with.
As for the screaming and crying...has his hearing been checked? Does he scream and cry as if louds noises or people talking to him are hurting his ears? My old neighbor had a son that behaved the same...from infancy! While he was an infant, discovered he had a reflux problem, and meds helped him a LOT. Then as he got older...discovered he had 20 allergies, and that his behavior was his body being overstimulated. Just a suggestion...that maybe looking into that from a medical standpoint to see if there isn't something underlying about why he screams and cries so much.
K.

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