Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reducing Toddler Frustration

Beck, one of our faithful readers, asked about screaming or shreiking. Mostly her little guy is screaming when he is put in his car seat or has something else he doesn't like happen to him. Beck wanted to know if this was something that needed to be curbed, or wether it would fade on its own over time.

Well, Beck, it all depends on the personality of your child. My oldest son still screams and shreiks when he is frustrated, but he started screaming with frustration when he was about 2 months old, so you would probably know already if Thomas had a really high level or frustration. We still haven't figured out how to make our son stop it, and we often dread when we have to set a boundary because we know "the scream" is coming.

In older babies and young toddlers, however, the scream is often due to a lack of words. Babies are old enough to know what they want and what they are feeling, but they have no words to tell you. So they shreik.

There are two things you can do to make things easier. First of all, build a routine around things like going into the car, going to bed, or ending an activity. He is getting old enough that he can start to remember the routine and know what is coming next. So when it is time to get into the car, talk about going into the car when you are putting his boots on, and make up a song or rhyme about buckling him into his seat. When it is time to stop playing, tell him that it is time to say "bye bye" to his toys. Wave with him to his toys, so he has a chance to get the idea in his head that it is time to change activities. This will help him to change gears a little easier, and hopefully stop some of the screaming.

The second thing you can do is say what you think he is feeling. With our second son, Aaron, this would almost always stop the scream. I would say, "Aaron is angry that he is in the car seat and he can't move around." He would look at me as if I finally understood what he was trying to say, and then he would move on with his day. Giving babies and toddlers the words they can't say themselves lets them know that you understand them. It also helps them to have the vocabulary they will need later to tell you they are hungry, tired, frustrated or sad. Then when they are older, hopefully they will be able to say that they are sad, rather than shreiking at you.

Hopefully these two little tips will help, and you guys can have more calm drives in the future. Hang in there, and if all else fails, pick up some earplugs or noise blocking headphones (Dave used to walk our screaming kids with his lawn mowing headphones on) to make your drives a little easier on yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks. This post was very insightful and hopefully putting some things into practice will be helpful. I esp. like your idea of saying out loud his words for him. I think that this might help us too. He's always been a bit stubborn (who am I kidding very stubborn) so it could be a bit of just built into him as well. Sounds kinda like he is a mixture of both your boys. :P If all else fails I shall make a trip to the store for some ear plugs!




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