Have you ever cringed when you heard a screaming child in the grocery store or restaurant? Can’t they control their child? Or worse, has your child been the one screaming in public and you are caught between embarrassment and extreme frustration?
Maybe your child decided that screaming at home or in the car would get them their way and you are struggling to figure out the best way to handle the situation.
A screaming child is not an anomaly; many families have a screamer who feels like that’s the way to get attention, get them what they want, or make themselves feel better. What matters most in those moments is not that you get your kids to behave perfectly; what really matters is how you respond to their behavior when they are far from perfect.
When your child is lashing out through screaming, here are some things to remember:
Reasoning with them probably won’t work.
A screaming child will not listen to reason, and most certainly will not listen to a lecture. Their over-the-top feelings will keep them from hearing you as you try to talk them out of their emotions. This is not the time for a heart-to-heart talk.
When you are emotional and upset, do you listen to reason? Probably not. When your child is screaming, it may not be the time to enforce a teachable moment.
Yelling at them only makes things worse.
If you really want to cause a scene, raise your voice and try to get their attention with your anger. That reaction usually escalates the situation, causing both you and your child to get even more frustrated and angry. And it never ever helps resolve the problem at hand.
Look for a way to move on.
Knowing that now is not the time to instruct or teach, look for a way to move past the present screaming moment. You don’t have to wait until the child is calm to move on, simply take that step yourself. Moving on may look like different things. It may simply mean giving a hug, distracting your child with something silly, walking away for a few minutes (if you are at home), or it may require you to gently pick up your child and leave the restaurant or store. Yes, that is an interruption to your schedule, but parenting is often inconvenient. Our kids don’t just require our attention when we are ready to give it.
When it comes to moving on, coach and author Vicki Hoefle says, You are not giving up. And you are not giving in. You are acting in a responsible and respectful manner becoming of a thoughtful and loving adult who is also a parent. Use your imagination here. The goal is to gain control of the situation and move both you and your child out of intense emotions and find calm and control in any way possible.
Evaluate and Learn.
When you have a minute, think through the scenario and determine what you can do better next time. You may have to experiment with different plans to find the ones that work best for you and your screamer.
The second piece to evaluation is to talk about the situation with your child when they are calm. Let them know that screaming is not an effective way to communicate their needs and wants, and it most certainly will not convince you to give them any of those needs or wants. Teach them how to deal with their anger when they are not getting their way.
Please be patient with this way of doing things. You will not have overnight success. But if you are consistent in YOUR response and determined to help your child learn the right way to deal with their own emotions, it will eventually start to sink in. Parenting tips are not miracle cures; they are guides for going the distance in a marathon.
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