Tips/tactics for Screaming Toddler

Updated on August 13, 2008
L.S. asks from Los Angeles, CA
4 answers

any tips/tactics to get my 2yr old son to not express himself by yelling. He will let out little yells (but they can be loud) generally when he doesn't get his way. He'll even do what I'm instructing him to do but voice his opposition through the screams. Timeout doesn't seem to change anything. Any tips there would help too. Thanks in advance.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi L.:
What your doing is punishing your son for communicating. Screaming is a toddlers way of trying to tell you something,because they have no vocabulary. His (efforts) should not be punishable.This would be a good time, for you to begin teaching your son simple words,or hand language to help him communicate with you.I wish you and your son the best.

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answers from Los Angeles on

First off, when you are angry/frustrated, how do you want your husband to react to you? Do you want your husband instructing you or do you want him to say "I know how you feel, that is really tough." Your son doesn't have the words yet, so you need to give him the words. He's only two, so saying something like "you are angry, ANGRY, ANGRY" or "you want that toy, WANT IT, WANT IT, WANT IT NOW!" this will get across the idea that you understand and empathize with him. Once he starts to listen to you and calm down then you can try distraction. Later, teach him the correct behavior, using his toys, role playing, or through a story. I've started using this tactic with my daycare kids and it really works.




answers from Los Angeles on

I find not reacting to the yelling works. The more you make it a no-no, the more attention he'll get from it, and he'll be more likely to repeat it. Try a day or two of seriously ignoring the yelling, and when he uses a nice tone of voice praise him like mad - see if that works.



answers from Honolulu on

Great responses here... I want to add: Keep in mind that at this age...a toddler does NOT have 'impulse control' yet. FULL impulse control is not "developed" until about 3 years old... and even then, older kids cannot be expected to "completely" be impulse free. Even adults have impulse trouble or containing themselves.

So, even though he is told "no"... a child WILL do it again. Socialization and learning "rules" is an ongoing process... all throughout their lives, no matter what age. Just make sure to use age appropriate methods, and don't expect them to act older than they are.

Naturally, at this age, they yell, scream, tantrum, get frustrated when they don't get their way, or if they are not being understood. It's just how the age is and developmentally.

Mainly, at this age, try "modeling," distraction, redirection, positive reinforcement, not bringing attention to the "unwanted" behavior etc.

But yes, he is simply communicating, and this is what they do. It's "pre-talking" especially is he is not yet talking or talking fluently. Perhaps, teach him sign language for things... then he can communicate it to you. Also, (what I did with my kids) is I taught them the "names" for their feelings already... and it really makes them articulate and understanding of what is going on.

This age, they protest a lot anyway... time-out is a little young for this age, to me. For my kids, I used redirection a lot and distraction. I also do not try to show any stress or an "upset" face if they reacted this way... I just would wait a bit... verbally tell them "please don't yell...come, tell Mommy want you want..." and if this didn't work, then I would pick them up, hug them, tickle them, and THEN say "we don't yell... show Mommy what you mean..." etc. Or, when my kids are yelling, sometimes I go up to them crouch down to their eye level, have them look at me, and in an almost whisper voice... I talk to them....this interrupts their yelling, re-focuses them on something else and since you are whispering they are more apt to look at you and/or listen. My daughter's Preschool teacher did this too. (Just an example).

You need to pick your battles. Yes, they need to be able to express themselves... and are only learning now, about communication. You want to encourage, rather than stifle that. Sometimes, after gaging the situation....I simply let my youngest get his yah-yah's out... I let him yell... and I turn it into a game... and make different intonations and sounds and tell him to copy me... then it becomes "fun." Other times, they may yell...but I KNOW it will stop on their own... after a few seconds, and it's fine. Sometimes I will tell my kids... "When you are done yelling/being grumpy... Mommy will be able to listen...then you can speak nicely and I will be here..." Then, they do it, and the volume reduces.

It's not easy... good luck, just some ideas on what I do.

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