Many of the children in my early childhood classes go through stages of screaming. It can be ear piercing when it happens and sometimes it can become a habit.
My son was a screamer. My 2 boys are just over 4 years apart and I can remember his older brother putting his hands over his ears and yelling “Can you stop him? He screams like a girl.” He really did scream like a girl, and it was exhausting for us and exhausting for him, yet he still did it.
Toddlers have poor muscle control, poor volume control and are in the midst of learning what is acceptable and what is not in a public or home setting.
We are talking about that annoying type of screaming that toddlers generally do between 1.5 – 2.5 years of age, not screaming because of pain or threatening circumstances.
There are several reasons why toddlers may be screaming:
• Trying out the voice: Just as with the rest of their body, toddlers experiment with their voices. They try out how loud it can go and what range their voice has. Sometimes they do it for fun and it can become a game. Every time they scream, you react, especially in public, so the screaming becomes louder and often they will laugh afterwards.
• Because it is fun!
• To get your attention
• It becomes a game
• Shock value and to get a reaction
• They are overstimulated
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Children need to know what types of voices they have. A yelling voice is not actually a type of voice.
We have 4 different types of voices:
• Whispering voice
• Speaking voice
• Calling Voice
• Singing Voice
Making a game out of using these types of voices teaches the toddler how to use their voice in an appropriate way. Play echo games getting them to copy you, naming the voice. It can be as simple as:
This is my whispering voice (said in a whispering tone and getting them to repeat after you). You can do that for all voices.
Once you have taught the toddler that they have 4 voices, if they are screaming or yelling, you can ask them which voice they are using. It changes the brain’s way of thinking and gets them focussed on a specific task. You can also ask them to use a specific voice. Something like:
“Could you say that to me in your speaking voice please? We are inside so we use our speaking voices inside.”
Be creative, have fun with it and train your toddler with a useful substitute to screaming