In this guide, we will discuss “How to stop a child from screaming for no reason” and we will talk about how yelling back at our child as a parenting strategy is not effective at all and some useful tips on how to handle our reaction when our child screams. Losing control of our emotions is easy but you may have noticed already how this is exactly what we are teaching our kids.
How to stop a child from screaming for no reason
You may be wondering ‘How to stop a child from screaming for no reason?’. However, let’s consider that for us, our child may be screaming for no apparent reason but it doesn’t mean it is always the case and we can’t physically stop someone from screaming, especially a child. It is really about our approach and how we guide them through. Here are some tips on how to stop your child from screaming:
- Self-regulation. Take a couple of deep breaths and calm down from all the screams. Try to ignore and detach from this type of behaviour.
- Talk to your child but not like you would talk to an adult. When you are talking to them, engage in eye contact and avoid yelling.
- Check their hearing to rule out any hearing problems being the reason why your child is constantly screaming.
- Avoid screaming matching, it is a losing battle limit. Remember that punishing and saying ‘no screaming’ or ‘you can’t scream’ which is setting a limit, is not going to be effective.
- Share power instead of imposing the power over your children. Realize that when they are screaming, there’s really not much we can control. The idea is to make the behaviour undesirable and irrelevant.
Why yelling back doesn’t work?
As we have discussed, yelling back at them is entering into a power struggle for control and you definitely wouldn’t want to go there. If yelling worked, everything would be easier and it may even feel like it if it has ‘worked’ for a while but the truth is, it doesn’t. We know that parenting can be frustrating at times and as parents we didn’t get a manual or further instructions without a child, just improvising on many occasions while we go along.
When you hear your child screaming and you have tried to ask politely to lower the voice or stop and nothing seems to work, you may resort to yelling back at them but this can happen because you run out of other options to solve the problem. However, once your child has learned to yell back then your yelling won’t have any effect on them.
Engaging in a screaming match gives our kids too much power and doesn’t help resolve the problem. As indicated by James Lehman, MSW, “Worst of all, yelling turns you into your child’s emotional equal. When you’re out of control, they know it—and for the time you’re in that fight with them, your authority is undermined.”
Things kids learn when their parents yell at them
The first thing kids tend to learn is that their parents can get frustrated and lose control. They learn that pushing you to the limit will get you to lose control. Worst of all, once you have started using yelling as a discipline strategy your child will know how and what buttons to press to get you to lose control.
Second, they learn that power is the way things get done and how overpowering others is the only or easiest way to get what they want. This is certainly not a behavior you would like your child to learn, especially from their role model.
Finally, they learn how to make your yelling stop having the same effect or ignore you. They can learn very quickly how to stop listening to your yelling when it starts.
As Lehman explains, “There are two ways people shut down emotionally during an argument: (1) they either stop paying attention and reject what they’re hearing; or (2) they start yelling back. When people yell, usually they are not feeling anything but anger, hostility, or frustration. And during a screaming match, no one is doing much—if any—listening.”
Teaching your child to express their emotions
As we have mentioned, one of the reasons a child screams is not being able to express their emotions effectively. Kids, in general, have fewer ways of identifying how to recognize and cope with what they are feeling and they tend to express it when they have an anger outburst, tantrum or screaming.
After our child has stopped screaming, try to teach them to recognize their emotions and ways on how to express themselves. For instance, if you need puppets or drawings use them to teach them when someone is sad, happy, angry or frightened. Labelling emotions makes it easier to recognize them and validate them.
Babies and toddlers can feel very frustrated due to their physical and verbal limitations and they can feel ‘powerless’ because they can’t do much about it. The best thing we can do is understand them and acknowledge their challenges. Moreover, screaming can be their only way to express themselves since they can’t use words yet.
This is a very useful technique where you give importance to the behaviours you would like to see more often and ignore those that are problematic or annoying that don’t really pose a threat to your child’s safety, other children’s safety or yours.
In other words, ignore your child when he/she is screaming and praise him/her when they are calm. However, make sure you are specific, positive and immediate when you are reinforcing their behaviour. For instance, you could say something like ‘Good job staying calm and using your gentle voice to talk to me’.
Take care of their needs instead of reacting to the screams
As we have mentioned, a child would try to communicate their needs by screaming or they could have other ways for you to know. Most of the time, what we do is react to their screams so we yell and even get to say many awful things we later regret. What we must do is find out what they need instead of lashing out on them and just as we discussed, help them express their emotions the right way.
For instance, if they are hungry because they want their breakfast they will scream or if they want you to play with them.they will scream. However, sometimes we are just too busy to notice. Observe and analyze their behaviour, this will give you clues of what they need and why they may be screaming, the real reason behind it.
Instead of losing control over our emotions, help them understand them after you have addressed their needs. Moreover, remember that this shall pass, they won’t scream their entire way to college.
Why is this blog about How to stop a child from screaming for no reason important?
As we have discussed in this blog on ‘How to stop a child from screaming for no reason’, you may not be able, physically, to stop your child when he/she is screaming but you can certainly change your reaction when they do. For instance, engaging in a screaming match will only make things worse. We are teaching our children to manage their emotions and if we lose control and start screaming then we are giving them enough reasons so they could do the same.
However, we need to learn to react to their needs instead of their screams because if they have an unsatisfied need and they can’t communicate them properly because they lack the language skills then we need to teach them how to identify their emotions and express them properly.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How to stop a child from screaming for no reason
How do I get my child to stop screaming?
If you would like to get your child to stop screaming and avoid engaging in a screaming match, consider the following tips:
– Know what triggers you, what makes you angry.
– Give your child a warning but be consistent.
– If you feel too overwhelmed, take time for yourself.
– Teach them skills and how to handle situations after they have calmed down.
– Identify what is considered normal behaviour.
– Set realistic expectations.
Why do toddlers scream for no reason?
We may believe our toddlers scream for no reason but sometimes what happened is that they are just full of energy and they don’t even realize they are screaming and how much it annoys you. However, others scream because they would like to get some attention from their parents or carers. Finally, some scream when they want something but they can’t get it on their own.
Why won’t my child stop screaming?
If your child won’t stop screaming, consider checking if they are feeling tired or if they are overstimulated. However, some of the other reasons include being hungry or not feeling well. Try to plan going out with your child during times your child is not feeling tired or hungry and try to keep them busy or distracted.
Why does my baby scream for no reason?
If your baby screams for no reason (or that is what it seems) it could be that they are hungry or they are feeling unwell. Since they can’t actually communicate the reason why they are screaming, you’d like to try a few things such as feeding your baby or checking if he/she is ill.
What happens to a child’s brain when you yell?
Yelling can affect a child’s brain development. When parents use harsh techniques to discipline their child, they could change the way their child’s brain develops. The reason why is, we tend to process negative events and emotions associated more quickly than good ones.
Youtube.com: “SCREAMING! How to Stop a Toddler Screaming – Help! My kid keep screaming!”
Lehman, J. (n.d.) 5 Ways to Stop a Screaming Match with Your Child or Teen. retrieved from empoweringparents.com.
Gody, L. (2019. May) HOW DO I DEAL WITH A CHILD WHO SCREAMS CONSTANTLY? Retrieved from riseandshine.childrensnational.org.
Theparentingjunkie.com: “How To Stop Toddler Screaming? 7 Steps.