How to handle a screaming toddler?

Published on September 22, 2016


Your toddler screaming may look mischief, but its developmentally normal phase which sets in at around 14 months. Good news is that your toddler is now alert and self-aware and knows what he wants. At 18 months, toddlers have very little communication skills. A child of this age generally knows not more than fifty words and hence it makes sense that in the absence of language, he uses another outlet to express how he feels. He takes screeching as a way of communicating his needs. But it may not be taken very well by your surroundings and may even cause uncomfortable surroundings.

What to do about it?

  • Identify the cause
    They key is to have a few responses ready to keep a balance with your toddler’s need to express. Excitement, tantrums for attention, exhaustion, hunger, being bored, being over-stimulated, uncomfortable etc can be reasons that could lead to a screaming child. For this, you need to identify what triggers his screaming and then acknowledge his feelings. If you know what tends to start the shrieking, you can figure out what he’s really trying to say and you can avoid those situations. For example, if your kid wants your undivided attention, you can prop them up on your lap and smile at them or make some gestures indicating that you are not ignoring them.
  • Do not scream back
    Screaming back is the last thing you should do. Follow the rule ‘No screaming at your toddler to stop screaming’. Toddlers enjoy this extra attention that they get by screaming. On the other hand, do not give into their demands to stop the screech, as this will convey them that screaming will get them what they want.
  • Distract
    You can divert him/her and make them do some other activity or hand some interesting objects. Or better way is to catch his attention by talking to him in a low pitch so he gains curiosity to listen to you. You can sometimes also try ignoring it, although it’s not going to be easy and is not something that must be done frequently.
  • Know the exceeds
    As the pitch of a baby’s cry increases, so does the urgency to respond to his needs arise. A distinctive ultra-high-pitched cry can indicate the presence of neurological problems. You should asses if the noise is because he is distressed or is he/he being overtly joyous.
  • Coach on the difference of private & social conversations
    Teach the concept of social and private voice tone. Give a demo of how you talk in home and how you do outside home. Teach your child different ways to communicate (he can come near to you and signal what he wants).
  • Deal with anxiety
    The fact that tots have poor impulse control makes them react repulsively especially when they are in public or when you go off their sight. This can also sometimes be separation anxiety. What he/she needs is a slow time for introductions with acquaintances or new faces/environments.

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