With firm and consistent discipline, you teach your 2-year-old not to scream.
It can happen without warning. One moment your 2-year-old is behaving like a perfect angel in the grocery store, and the next she's sprawled on the floor screaming like a banshee. Obviously, a 2-year-old is a complex little person, filled with desires, ideas and feelings. Because most 2-year-olds haven't acquired strong language skills, they often get overwhelmed when angry or frustrated. This can be the perfect storm that unleashes a temper tantrum. When screaming strikes, discipline your child carefully and calmly. By modeling the behavior you want from your child, you teach her how to handle explosive feelings.
1Get down on your child's level and establish eye contact. Speak in a calm voice and tell him that you want him to use his “nice” or “indoor” voice. This may seem ineffective while your little one is screaming, and it's also hard to keep your cool when your ears are being screamed off. With consistency, though, you will teach your child that screaming is unacceptable.
2Create a gesture that reminds your child not to scream, and use it whenever your child starts to wail. Dr. William Sears recommends the classic index finger to the lips. You might also raise one index finger pointed up or perform the motion of “zipping your lips" with your index finger and thumb to remind to your child to hush.
3Distract your child away from whatever is causing the screaming. For example, if your child is trying to put on her own shoes and is losing her cool, substitute an easier pair of shoes to put on or offer your help. If your child is screaming because he wants something he can't have, pick him up and walk into a different room to help him think about something else.
4Resist the urge to just give in and let your child have what she wants, no matter how crazy that screaming is driving you. Instead, show your kiddo that when she uses her indoor voice, you hear her and help her. Your 2-year-old may not understand this concept at first, but with consistency, she will learn that you do respond to an appropriate volume.
5Recognize that sometimes, your child's screaming is your fault. Has your rushing around led to skipped meals or naps? Toddlers lose the ability to cope with frustration and anger when they don't feel well physically. If you notice that your child is getting grouchy, step in quickly and change the scenery to divert a tantrum.
6Avoid the temptation to ignore screaming. Dr. Sears cautions against ignoring undesired behavior because you miss an opportunity to teach your tot actively which behaviors are acceptable.
- Never return your toddler's screams with your own screams. This only reinforces the behavior you don't like. If you feel unable to handle your child's tantrum constructively, ask for help from family or friends.