So here it is: my toddler is a screamer. It turns out that Holden’s own fireworks display on the Fourth of July was not a fluke; she is a full-blown screaming, tantrum-throwing, screeching toddler. She has also added a fun new word to her vocabulary: NOW. “Milky now.” “Outside now.” “Done now.”
I have a 24-lb. terrorist in my house.
According to Babycenter (where I end up after googling crazy things like “screaming toddler,” “toddler play in poop,” etc.):
Believe it or not, your toddler’s volume is turned way up not because she means to annoy you, but because she’s full of that wonderful toddler joie de vivre. She’s exploring the power of her voice, and experimenting with what she can do with it.
Joie de vivre, eh? Let me tell you, there is no joie in having to bust out your wrestling pretzel legs just to change your kid’s diaper.
So Babycenter recommends:
- Run errands on her schedule – Um. I rarely leave the house with her, let alone taking her to run errands.
- Stick to noisy stores and restaurant – This kid hasn’t seen a restaurant that isn’t Chick Fil A since her first birthday.
- Ask her to use an indoor voice – If you want to feel absolutely invisible, ask a hysterical, screaming, hiccuping toddler to use her indoor voice.
- Make a game out of it – That sounds like the worst game ever.
- When your toddler starts screeching up a storm, turn on some music and suggest he sing or join you in a sing-along.
- Challenge your screaming toddler: Look him in the eye and whisper. That may catch his attention and may make him curious enough to listen (and hopefully quiet down so he can hear).
So, again, these ideas all sound well and good but… seriously, when Holden gets worked up, it seems like pretty much all I can do is put her in a safe place to let her scream through it. I’ve tried reasoning with her. I’ve tried putting my fingers to my lips and “shh”ing and getting her to repeat it. I’ve tried whispering. Time outs make her even more upset (don’t get me wrong, I still do them). If I put her in her room, she beats on the door like the zombies in the Thriller video while calling out my name. Today I literally let her scream in my face for 15 minutes while I drank my coffee without even acknowledging her or saying a word.
When she finally calms down, we talk about how it isn’t nice or effective to scream and how she should use her inside voice and apologize for screaming, etc. But when she’s in the moment, it is a typhoon of horror.
I saw a tip on a Babycenter message board that sounded somewhat promising, from Good Ol’ Doctor Phil:
He advises that the parent/guardian needs to VALIDATE the child. In other words, the child is screaming because he/she cannot communicate effectively with you and that is the only way to get your attention. But, if you VALIDATE them by repeating what it is that they want three times (i.e. “I KNOW you want that book. I KNOW you want that book. I KNOW you want that book.”) they stop and listen to you.
Worth a shot I suppose.
If not, What to Expect reminds that “this too shall pass.”
Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later.