Do you scream at your husband when you talk to him, or your kids? Do you scream at your friends when they don’t make your tea perfect or run out of biscuits? Well, I hope not, because that would be completely insane. Yet every baby/toddler goes through this phase of screaming. For some they start very young as they are stretching their vocal chords and are very excited when they reach an ear piercing pitch that grabs everybody’s attention. Others are a little older and decide to start screaming when a toy gets snatched, their dinner isn’t ready when they are or when they have to get into their car seat.
The reason children scream is because its a way of communication. Some like to do it when they get very excited, others when they’re upset about something. But screaming is not an appropriate way of communication and so we need to help them learn how to express their feelings without making everyone go deaf.
As a mum to four kids I can tell you that all of mine went through a screaming phase but at different ages and stages. So I had to guide them out of the habit in very different ways. Here’s how I helped my children stop screaming and start communicating.
1. A quick and calm ‘sssssshhhhhhhh’
This worked best if they screamed because they got really excited while singing or playing a game. Quickly stepping in and say sssssshhhhh helped them become aware of how loud they were and that they needed to bring the volume down a level.
2. Get down on their level and give them a firm ‘no’
This was needed when one of my kids was around the one year mark and was getting frustrated. If they couldn’t get their fast enough, climb all the way to the top or open something shut then screaming would follow. I would get right down on their level and tell them ‘no’ to let them know this was not how we handle frustration. A cuddle later they would be right as rain.
3. Disciplinary action
If you have a defiant child the previous suggestions may make you roll your eyes so it must come to this. For me a disciplinary action is a spank* on the bum (and only the bum) with a wooden spoon or spatula. This is a consequence for disobeying by doing something they know is wrong. If it comes to this be prepared. I always find that I have to spend around 1-2 weeks consistently discipling them over one issue and then suddenly it stops.
The real key to moving kids through this phase as quickly as possible is starting at the beginning. If they’ve been in this phase for months already then I’m sorry to say you’ve got your work cut out for you. But do not give up hope, don’t give in and never surrender! It will be absolutely worth it in the end. But if you’re yet to experience the wonder, shock and awe of glass shattering sounds from your loved ones vocal chords then fill your arsenal now so you’re prepared to help your baby communicate and express themselves in an appropriate way so that others will be able listen and respond.
Has your child gone through this phase already? How did you help them overcome screaming??
*Please note that I do not condone hitting children or spanking out of anger to hurt your child. My heart is to always show love to our children even in discipline and we should never discipline out of anger. I will be writing more on spanking and how it should be used according to the Bible.