Toddler Screaming?

It seems like my toddler is screaming all the time, and I’m going crazy. Got any tips to help me cope?
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ByElizabeth Pantley
Parenting Expert
Updated
Mar 2017
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Before you invest in soundproofing drywall, consider this: Toddlers scream for real reasons. They scream when they’re hurt, when they’re frustrated, when they’re having a good time and when they want your attention. Sometimes, they scream just to see how loud they can go. So getting to the bottom of why will probably give you clues that will be useful in trying to figure out how to turn down the volume.

If your child is screaming because he’s frustrated, rest a little easier knowing that his screaming will probably lessen as he learns more words and can better verbally express his frustrations. In the meantime, you can help him by verbalizing what he’s feeling: “Yes, it’s frustrating when the puzzle piece doesn’t fit!”

If he’s screaming for attention, a two-pronged approach might be best. First, be sure to give him plenty of positive attention when he’s not screaming. Read books together, play with toys, talk together — the activity doesn’t matter as much as your undivided attention (put the iPhone down!). Then, do your best to ignore your child’s look-at-me screams when you’re busy with other things. Eventually, your toddler will learn that screaming for attention doesn’t work.

Meanwhile, work on teaching (and modeling) a quieter tone. “When your child gets too loud, go directly to him, get down to his level, and ask him to use his quiet, inside voice,” says Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Discipline Solution. “Demonstrate what you mean, so he clearly understands. Talk to him in a quiet voice, and say, ‘Talk to me like this — in your inside voice.’”

But don’t expect your toddler to use his inside voice all the time. “Make sure your child has an outlet,” Pantley says. “Take him outside to a park or to an indoor play arena, often.” And let him yell there.

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With time, most toddlers will learn to modulate their voices. If your child consistently uses a loud tone, get her checked out by a doctor. “Children who constantly use a loud voice might have a problem hearing,” Pantley explains. “Those who have had frequent ear infections might have fluid buildup that creates difficulty hearing. It’s always a good idea to check with a medical professional to be sure there isn’t a problem.”

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