Screaming Kids Driving You Nuts? Four Rules to Help You Keep Your Sanity!

Often I will hear parents say, "I just ignore Jr. when he has a fit or screams."

Though there may be times when this is appropriate it is not appropriate when Jr. is less than 5 years of age! Why? Because your child needs to receive training in proper and acceptable behavior. Screaming to get your own way is not proper or acceptable! If your child is screaming to get something, there are reasons he is doing this and I caution you, you may not like them!

First, your child has been taught to scream. That's right, taught. I know it isn't pleasant and I know you didn't do it intentionally, but bear with is true, you taught him to scream! When babies begin to gain their independence they develop personal tastes for foods, people, their environment and even situations. In other words, they start to know what they want in life. The problem? They have a limited number of ways to communicate what they want because they have not mastered language yet. So what do they do? They wave their arms, they kick their feet, they point, they make noise, and when that doesn't work, they muster up, and let out a blood curdling scream. Yikes!

What do you do?

Guess what??? Mom comes running and often dad and sister too! So, the kid screams more. If they want something else? They scream again. The problem is if you react to this screaming by moving faster, it will stop, temporarily. It will stop until the child decides he wants something else. In reality, reacting by moving faster will make the screaming worse! Yikes again, right? The child will condition you to move a little faster and then? Then, you begin to anticipate the child's needs so that he won't scream at all. Does the word servant come to mind here? Wrong! Pretty soon the child is screaming about everything and it he sees that it works much better than the new language he is learning so he screams instead of talks! Ouch! Next thing you know, mom and dad are screaming at each other for the screaming to stop. Sound familiar?

Do you want to know the rules so the insanity will stop? (view definition of insanity here)

Rule # 1 Don't ignore it.

This is the number one thing I hear parents say that they do. It is your job as the parent to teach and train the child proper behavior. If you ignore the crummy screaming the child doesn't know the difference between acceptable or unacceptable behavior. Children need to know the boundaries if you want happy, independent and responsible children. Do you see happy people screaming to get their own way? Only unhappy adults do that! If you really want your children to grow up and respect other people, (including you), you have to teach them "why" screaming is disrespectful to others. They need the "why" behind the discipline. Train them not to scream and then give them the reason why they shouldn't scream. Remember to talk at their level. You might say, "Other people don't want to hear you scream, it hurts their ears. You must learn to control your emotions and make yourself happy. We must all respect the rights of the others in order to get along." What you are really doing is teaching them to master themselves. It is a young lesson in self-control. Mom and dad might be able to ignore screaming and fits but do we all have to endure your kid screaming? Ignoring is not the answer.

How do you do it?

Now that you know why you should train your child not to scream, how do you do it? Tell the child in a calm, level voice to stop raising his voice. Put your index finger firmly over his mouth and set him somewhere out of the way. In our household we use the bottom step of our stairway. The child must go sit on the step until they are ready to ask in a nice voice just what it is that they they want. The child is always in control of the time frame. It is their decision to stop screaming and ask nicely. As a parent, you are there for guidance. You are simply making it inconvenient for them to scream. This is incentive for them to change their own poor behavior and it avoids power struggles. If they get up from the step and they are still screaming...take them back and sit them there over and over until they get it. If they are calling your name and asking if they can get up, explain to them in a nice voice that it is their choice when they get up and they can get up when they change their mind and decide not to scream anymore.

Rule # 2 Be consistent.

If you are in a store or public area. Again, put your finger firmly over their mouth and say, "No, you may not scream, you must use a nice voice and ask for what you want." (If the child is too young to talk, consider teaching them basic signs to ask nicely for what they want. watch future issues for more on baby signing). If they continue to scream, stand your ground and discipline them according to the parenting plan you are currently working. If you haven't created your parenting plan, you may not have a course of action for this behavior. I would encourage you to get one. (Check out our parenting plan, Family by Design) If you don't have a plan, you will most certainly fall into emotional parenting and that is not good for you or the child.

Rule # 3 Don't scream at your child.

Gandhi said it perfectly when he said, be the change you want to see in other people. This is especially true with your children. Be 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 that back to you.

Rule # 4 Never, ever, ever, EVER, give in to the screaming.

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

The next time you are tempted to ignore screaming, ask yourself, do you like to hear someone else's kid screaming to get their way? I think not.

Michelle Shelton and her husband Paul live in Gilbert, Arizona with their five children. Michelle is a full time licensed Real Estate Agent for Keller Williams Realty Southeast Valley. She specializes in Arizona Horse Property. You can visit her on the web at or contact her directly at [email protected]

In The News:

What is ‘tag team’ parenting?  The Indian Express
Common Sense Parenting  Rising Kashmir

Positive Parenting - Oops! I Really Lost My Temper With My Kids, What Now?

Ever blown your top to your children, only to regret... Read More

Watch Your Language! - How Parents Can Help Kids Help Themselves

'I felt great until I walked into the classroom -... Read More

Help! My Kids Dont Listen to Me

Does this sound familiar? Have your kids not listened to... Read More

Twins - Double The Trouble Or Double The Pleasure? Both!

If You're Having it double the headache, or double... Read More

The Best Gifts Ever: Life Experiences Every Child Should Have

This past holiday season Canadians spent over $45 billion-with parents... Read More

How Many Sex Offenders Live On Your Block?

For any parent, learning that a convicted sex offender lives... Read More

6 Great Freebie Resources for Parents of Twins & Multiple Births

A sure way to double the joys of parenthood is... Read More

Preventing Obesity in Young Children

Do you have a young child whose weight or eating... Read More

Healthy Eating For Children: Six Simple Rules

Rule #1 Make Every Bite Count!Everything your child eats should... Read More

What You Should Know About Counseling for Attention Deficit Disorder

At the ADHD Information Library we are big believers that... Read More

Saving Money on Preschool: Readiness Skills Needed for Kindergarten

As a mom of 4 who's youngest child is about... Read More

Use Encouragement Instead of Criticism to Help Children Improve

Criticism is punitiveOur children judge themselves on the opinions we... Read More

Clean Kid Syndrome - Does Your Child Suffer from it?

The learning and development of Australian kids is under threat... Read More

Real Monsters Under Your Bed

There may really be a real monster under your kidâ??s... Read More

Lets Protect Our Children

There are software programs that you can purchase to keep... Read More

Picky Eater Syndrome

'Picky Eater' is a label coined to describe the phenomenon... Read More

Hiking with Children

There is nothing quite like hiking with small children. The... Read More

Thriving As A Family When You Live In The Fast lane

It is extraordinary times that we find ourselves in. Change... Read More

Stroller Safety Tips

Strollers offer a wonderful and convenient service to parents and... Read More

Is Your Discipline Damaging the Spirit of the Child?

If your parenting methods include abuse of any kind; physical,... Read More

Dexedrine, Cylert, and Adderall in the Treatment of ADHD

Dexedrine is not prescribed very often for the treatment of... Read More

Are Public Schools A Menace To Your Kids? -- 11 Danger Signals

Parents, do you have children who do poorly in school,... Read More

Raising Teenagers? Stay C.A.L.M.

Parents of teenagers frequently ask what can be done to... Read More

Back to School Success: The Parents Job and the Students Job

Q. With another school year starting, we are not sure... Read More

Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson Never Went To Public School

Most of our Founding Fathers, including Ben Franklin, Sam Adams,... Read More