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Screaming kids driving you crazy? Four rules to help you stay sane!

I often hear parents say, “I just ignore Jr. when he has a fit or yells.”

While there may be times when this is appropriate, it is not when Jr. is under 5 years old! Why? Because your child needs training on appropriate and acceptable behavior. Yelling to get your way is not appropriate or acceptable! If your child is yelling for something, there are reasons why he is doing it and I warn you, he may not like them!

First, your child has been taught to scream. That is correct, taught. I know it’s not nice and I know you didn’t do it on purpose, but bear with me … it’s true, you taught her to scream! As babies begin to gain their independence, they develop personal tastes for food, people, their environment, and even situations. In other words, they begin to know what they want in life. The problem? They have a limited number of ways to communicate what they want because they are not yet fluent in the language. So what do they do? They wave their arms, kick their feet, point, make noise, and when that doesn’t work, they gather together and let out a blood-curdling scream. Oh!

What is your job?

Guess what ??? Mom comes running and often Dad and sister too! Then the child screams more. If you want something else? They scream again. The problem is that if you react to these screams by moving faster, it will temporarily stop. It will stop until the child decides he wants something else. Actually reacting by moving faster will make screaming worse! Go again, right? The child will condition you to move a little faster and then? Then you start to anticipate the child’s needs so that he doesn’t scream at all. Does the word servant come to mind here? Wrong! Very soon, the child is yelling about everything and sees that it works much better than the new language he is learning, so he yells instead of speaking! Oh! The next thing you know, Mom and Dad yell at each other to stop the yelling. Sounds familiar?

Do you want to know the rules to stop the madness? (see definition of insanity here)

Rule # 1 Don’t ignore it.

This is the first thing I hear parents say they do. It is your job as a parent to teach and train the child to behave properly. If you ignore the horrible screams, the child does not know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Children need to know limits if you want happy, independent and responsible children. Do you see happy people yelling to get their way? Only unhappy adults do that! If you really want your children to grow up and respect other people (including you), you must teach them “why” yelling is disrespectful to others. They need the “why” behind the discipline. Train them not to yell, and then explain why they shouldn’t yell. Remember to speak on their level. You might say, “Other people don’t want to hear you scream, their ears hurt. You must learn to control your emotions and make yourself happy. We must all respect the rights of others to get along.” What you are really doing is teaching them to control themselves. It’s a young lesson in self-control. Mom and Dad might ignore the screams and attacks, but do we all have to put up with your child’s screaming? Ignoring is not the answer.

How do you do it?

Now that you know why you should train your child not to yell, how do you do it? Tell the child in a calm and calm voice to stop raising his voice. Put your index finger firmly over your mouth and place it somewhere out of the way. In our home we use the last step of our ladder. The child should sit on the step until he is ready to ask in a pleasant voice what he wants. The child is always in control of the time frame. It is your decision to stop yelling and ask politely. As a parent, you are there for guidance. You are simply making it inconvenient for them to yell. This is an incentive for them to change their own misbehavior and avoid power struggles. If they get up off the step and they’re still screaming … take them and sit them there over and over again until they hear it. If they are calling you by name and asking if they can get up, explain in a gentle voice that it is their choice when they get up and that they can get up when they change their mind and decide not to yell anymore.

Rule # 2 Be consistent.

If you are in a store or in a public place. Again, place your finger firmly over your mouth and say, “No, you cannot yell, you must use a pleasant voice and ask for whatever you want.” (If the child is too young to speak, consider teaching her basic signs to politely ask for what she wants. See future issues for more information on baby signs.) If they continue to yell, stand up and discipline them according to the parenting plan you are currently working on. If you haven’t created your parenting plan, you may not have a course of action for this behavior. I encourage you to get one. (See our parenting plan, Family by Design) If you do not have a plan, you will surely fall into emotional parenting and that is not good for you or the child.

Rule # 3 Don’t yell at your child.

Gandhi said it perfectly when he said, I know the change you want to see in other people. This is especially true with your children. I know what you want them to be because they will be what you are. Learn to control yourself and your emotions and your children will reflect this on you.

Rule # 4 Never, never, never, NEVER give in to yelling.

It is your job as a parent to teach your child to be aware of those around him and to respect their rights. It is not the center of the universe. Please do not treat your child as he is or he will be an unhappy adult. If you really love him, teach him to get along with others by teaching him the importance of proper behavior.

The next time you’re tempted to ignore yelling, ask yourself, does he like to hear someone else’s child yell to get his way? I do not think so.


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