May 18, 2016

Toddler behaviour: scream and screech

A usually throws a shout when she tries to do something and it didn't work out well. Like, she tries to hang a towel over the hanger but the towel keeps slipping, she tries for more than a couple of times and if it is still not intact, next moment we see her screaming while showing her inability to do it properly. Or, another instance is, she indeed tried to hang the towel, got it successful in a couple of attempts and someone passes by, unknowingly picks up the same towel to wipe something. She is again seen screaming out loud saying, 'I just put it properly and you have removed it, why did you remove it?'. Or, she asks me to not touch something, and, when I am out of my mind and I do touch it, she is again screaming saying 'No...don't touch it'. In all these instances, by the word 'screaming' I don't mean the usual yelling adults do with anger, but the message that children try to convey adults in times of their inability to do something. That kind of screeching tone that kids carry while saying something and the like. In all such situations, I immediately gauge the situation, understand what she is trying to convey or what she wants, get her close to me and tell her that she could ask for the same this way, or convey the message this way, by screeching, one does not really understand what she is trying to say etc.

She repeats all that I say after me, though there has been a change in the way she wants to convey her message, she still screeches when something really gets over her.

As an example, what just happened today is:

A took around 3-4 toys, put it at some distance from me and said she would give each of them to me one by one.

A: Wait, I will put all these somewhere safe, and get one by one for you. You can hold them.

Me: OK.

A: Went around me, took the longer path to reach to that point where toys were kept, got one toy, handed over to me.

Me: OK, thank you.

A: Again, went around me, took the longer path to reach to that point where toys were kept, got one toy, handed over to me.

Me: OK, thank you.

A: Again, went around me.
(As she was talking to me while walking behind me, I totally forgot what she said and reached my hand to get one of the toys.)

A: (screeching) Why did you take it? I told you I would give you one by one. Why don't you put it there?

Me: Oops, sorry! I just forgot about it and was trying to take it. Here, I keep it back where it was. You please give me now. I took it because I actually forgot what you said, A, please don't scream. Sorry again!

A: Ok, I will keep it here(moved it further from me) and get you the toy this time.

(And, as she was coming back to me)

A: I just saw you touching the toy and I screamed out loud amma. Sorry!

Me: (got that feeling of connection with my child) Took her close to me, told her again that I actually forgot and whenever such incident happens, she needn't scream, she could tell amma and amma would understand.

A: (Ended the scene with a tight hug)


I would like to convey the following key points from this incident:

  1. I actually never yell at my child, still, she has the tendency of screeching to express her inability to do something. Every time it happened, I only kept talking to her consistently and being consistent in my behaviour. Do not yell back saying why she wants to scream always, do not get irritated, do not ignore. Every time your child is upset with something, that is actually an opportunity for you to make a connection, an emotional connection that is unique only to parent-child. 
  2. The many times such screeching incidents happened, I tried to explain the situation to her patiently, what she did, what she expected and what actually happened. Everytime she nods to me. Still, such incidents do repeat, because kids want to communicate some or the other helpless state of theirs to parents. Being consistent is the key. If not immediately, some time later, you will see a transformed behaviour. Not because you yelled or ordered to behave so, but because you have taught your child by behaving yourself. 
  3. The 'sorry' that she said to me in above incident, was neither forced nor asked for. She observed me(not just in this one scene, but, observing since birth) in all aspects of my behaviour, my talk and put the same into her practice.





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