Monday, April 14, 2008

advice appreciated

i find it interesting that, besides the post that tristan had arrived, the ones that brought forth the most comments were the posts where i desperately asked for advice on how to deal with the newborn i wasn't quite sure i had asked for. so, feeling a little greedy for comments, i'm asking for your advice once again. okay, so maybe i really do want advice, but seeing lots and lots of comments is always an ego boost as well ;)

my son has turned into a screamer. and i don't mean the kind of happy screams that come from toddlers being pushed on a swing. i mean all out, ear splitting screams that aren't in the least bit happy sounding. it all began about a month ago when he wouldn't get his way. he knows what the words "no touching" mean, and he's usually great about obeying them UNLESS he really, really wants to touch something. that something is usually a piece of equipment with all sorts of buttons, like our dvd player, for instance. he actually broke our dvd player by fiddling with it, even though he knew he shouldn't. thankfully, my hubby managed to fix it and now it is sitting waaay up high on top of our tv. however, even with the dvd player out of reach, he always manages to find things that he'd like to play with that he's not allowed to. (whoever invented an oven with the burner dials just above the oven door obviously didn't have kids.) and when we say "no", he very often balls his fists up, arches his back, and lets out a shriek that such a small person should not be capable of producing.

recently, these shrieking episodes of his have been getting more and more frequent. he shrieks when he's frustrated, like when he can't reach something. he shrieks when he wants my attention. and, just this morning he started shrieking for no reason at all. at 6:30 in the morning, nonetheless when most normal people are still asleep (he was up at 4:45 today). being that we live in a duplex and basically share a wall with the family next to us, i'm not too keen on the whole "ignoring him" idea.

so, here's what we've tried:

1. getting down on his level, and saying "shhhhh no screaming." quietly and calmly. this results in him screaming again, right in our face.

2. holding him tightly until he calms down and is no longer screaming. josh does this well, but i don't think its preventing him from screaming the next time he feels like it.

3. getting down on his level and saying "shhhh no screaming" and then giving his hand a little slap. this once resulted in him hitting my face and and he always starts screaming even louder.

4. ignoring him when he screams. this one only works for me when we're not in a public place because i cannot stand when other people let their children shriek and disrupt other people. it works okay, but i find i can't really be consistent about it.

okay, so those of you who gone through something similar, feel free to comment away! what worked for you? what didn't work? i know that many of you are just dying to tell others how to raise their children, and i'm giving you that opportunity right now. :)


rachel joy said...

My only suggestion is ... everything that you have tried, try it again. And again and again and again. He's so young. We're trying to figure out how to break some of Marty's naughty things, and it can be so frustrating to know what to do. But I promise, promise, he'll catch on. How lame is it to say that he'll grow out of it? So lame, I know. But he will.
Did you see that book I wrote about? "Confessions of a Slacker Mom"? It has no answers for parenting dilemmas, just helps us as moms keep it all in perspective.

Ginny said...

Well, Heidi, he is kind of young to really understand that you don't want him to scream again in the next situation, but I have a suggestion to get his attention on a scream to scream basis. Try whispering. Get down to his level and possibly even hold him and then whisper your reprimand. He has to stop yelling to hear what you are saying. I actually got that from my son's first grade teacher. She could control a room of 30 6 year olds by simply lowering her voice. They had to stop whatever they were doing to hear her. It worked every time. I laughed when I read your blog though, because Lori's blog today talks about Garrett and the terrible-I'm-almost-twos. No one ever said parenting would be easy :)

Lovella said...

I'm just loving my knew sidebar role call. I feel so free not to be running and checking for new posts. . but when you do post. . woah, I'm right here.
I confess, I read your post. . thought a bit, then decided to see what it says online about these matters and then thought again a bit and have decided to hold my opinion on how you should handle this. I really think that unless you've dealt with a shrieker you really can't be terribly helpful.
I do recall once in Woodwards, my little tyke getting riled up about something (no clue what it was) but I did impart a little encouragement on his bottom. Woah, I sure wouldn't advise that now.

nicanddiana said...

Heidi, Thanks so much for asking this question. Hunter is doing the exact same thing. Fist in a ball and screaming at the top of his lungs. I've tried everything you have too. I think the one that is working the best for Hunter is just ignoring him. Nana, usually distracts him with something else more exciting to take him away from whats bothering him, and that works everytime, but when its just Hunter and I at home, and I'm working I can't always do that. You just have to take it a day at a time, and whatever works that day.
I love that you have asked this though, I like the comment you got on whispering. Will have to try that next time. Let me know if you find something that does work.
Good Luck :)

ateam99 said...

Heidi, now, I know I am not a parent. But, I was a nanny for two boys. Cole, the 2 year old, definitely had the screaming thing down to a T, but he was more prone to do it in public because he was smart enough to know that it would tempt me to give him his way. Luckily the longest tantrum was at home--about an hour and a half screaming rage. The key is ENDURANCE, your endurance. Don't give in... and try not to show you're frustrated. I would just casually say, "you're fine Cole, let me know when you're ready." and I would leave him in time out (which is where he went any time he pulled these stunts) and casually go about my business even though my heart was pounding so hard. Once he calmed down I would say, "Cole that was not okay" and he knew to say sorry and then we would go on with the day. With my consistency, his tantrums became a lot less. In public, you have to be ready to drop everything and leave, so they know they are not the boss. I once had to sit Cole on my lap, and put his legs between mine, and hold him while he sceamed bloody murder (I felt it was safer than him running away from me). And then I called my sister so she could keep me calm and so he would know (or at least think) he wasn't bothering me at all. Kids. lol.

Anneliese said...

I guess I should have picked up the book that I saw at HOJ recently. I think it was called, Have a New Kid by Friday. Then I could give you some professional advice second hand. I remember being at my wits end when one of my kids would scream for no reason, but somehow daddy was able to do miracles that I couldn't. One thing that I do have to say is that when you know it's direct defiance (screaming louder when you've tried to calm him down, hitting etc) then you need to take more serious action ... whatever that means in your family. All the best. Don't we learn so much about our relationship to God and how much He loves us, through parenting?
Hope you don't mind me checking in on you. I love reading about your family visits, because they remind me of ours. (Hi to Judy)

Charlene said...

Heidi, Joshua is doing pretty much the same thing. He screams when he is frustrated (especially when he hasn't had enough sleep--like today), He screams when he can't touch something he really, really wants to touch or when i want to go and he doesn't and the list goes on. He also stiffens himself up and kicks his legs wildly and if he's eating and he's really upset he throws everything. I thought this stuff didn't happen until age two, but guess not. I've just been ignoring him, b/c i don't really know what else to do.

I was talking to a friend the other day and she said that what she does is everytime her son screams she puts him in his crib in his room and closes the door until he stops crying and she said it's been working. I've tried it once so far when he was throwing food of the table and it did work, but only after doing it three times and it was really hard to do, for me anyway. i was glad that Ken was there, otherwise i probably would have given in.

If he hits you back after you tap him on the hand, that method probably won't work for you. my friends older daughter would hit her back when she hit her on the hand so she had to quit, b/c it made her more violent. I have noticed with Joshua that if his screaming makes me upset so i get upset at him it makes him worse, but when i'm calm it's better. I don't know myself if i should enact a plan to get rid of the screams or just ride it out until he is able to deal with his emotions better.

will pray for you about this. i know it's not fun at all and can be extremely frustrating. make sure you get some breaks for yourself too. i find that taking a break helps refresh me so i can deal with these situations better.

corinne said...

Okay, I like to give advice on child raising. I have four kids so I feel like I know a little bit. Each one of our kids did the screaming thing to some extent. It really is an age thing but if you don't try to stop it it will go on and on and on with your child's age. Here is what I suggest: when your child is calm and not screaming, explain to him that next time and every time he chooses to scream you will quietly and calmly pick him up and sit him in a 'naughty place' (this can be a corner, stool, chair, someplace away from distraction but the same place each time) He will sit here for as many minutes as he is old (so if he is 1 and 1/2 years old then 90 seconds) you have to be very consistent with this and soon it should work. Good luck and stay in control.

Kathy said...

Strong emotions sometimes make a lot of noise! I would recommend to all parents reading books about raising emotionally intelligent children. Watch for Goleman (I think that's his name.)

My response is addressing the whole of toddlerhood though elementary age.

Try to name the emotion for your little child. You are feeling angry. Are you frustrated. I see you are very angry with me right now.

Come alongside the child emotionally. You really wanted that cookie. Now you feel very disappointed and angry that I didn't give you another. I would like to give you TEN cookies - but what about your tummy?! It would hurt! Go with the child a ways - maybe farther than they want.

Get on the child's level and say softly. I am listening to you. Can you tell me with words? Can you show me?

Say - I can't hear you when you scream (as in I can't understand you) Please tell me...

Children need to learn to recognize and name their emotions and then learn how to express them.

The techniques change a more and more as the child is able to understand and express emotions.

Eventually - for whining I would tell my kids I couldn't understand their whining. It was even suggested to me to put on headphones as a signal to the child that I could not hear the whining. I remember saying often, "I am listening. Tell me in your normal voice".

Negative emotions - especially the intense noisy ones are not convenient but if the emotions are punished, then the child can come to believe he must stuff down those emotions.

It will be a journey - this emotion thing and Tristan is pretty young yet so you're just getting going on training his emotional intelligence.

You go girl.

Lori said...

I have no advice. Clearly. But I just wanted to stop by and tell you that I laughed hysterically hard that you considered throwing a rock a Tristan for a split second. I'm still laughing. So glad I'm not alone!

Ej said...

It was only upon reading this post that I realize my son has finally stopped doing this.

I think it is an age thing - but like someone posted earlier - you have to be proactive with it.

We had a quiet spot on the bottom stair - we would have him sit until he was calm - we often had to sit with him. We spoke calm but firmly saying "no screaming", or "stop screaming", "calm down" etc. It didn't seem t be working - and we were getting very frustrated but I just realized that he has stopped doing it.

I think you need ot pick a course of action that works for both you as a parent and for your son.

Hang in there - it will get better, or quieter ;-)

Shannon said...

I approach it much the way Kathy mentioned. Explaining (breifly!) that I understand they are angry/sad/whatever and then mentioning the rule or reason behind. I usually tell them it is okay to be upset but it is not okay to scream/cry/hit/bite/whatever and if they do not stop, then I will dicipline. Not for the emotion but for the way they are dealing with it.

I have once, with Wesley, just screamed louder than him. When he stopped to look at me I just said "it hurts your ears does't it?". It didn't stop it, but I like to think that for that moment he understood what I meant by no screaming.

Shannon said...

oh, had to add that Brianna has started to do this. She used to get her way because I didn't want the noise and I sort of felt that she was "just a baby". Then I noticed that she knew she would get her way and it only made her more pushy in other areas. Consistancy is the key, no matter how hard it is. She still screams a lot. I hate the screaming kids at the grocery store too, but it is forgivable when you notice a mother dealing with it instead of coddling it. I'd take a screaming toddler over a bratty child any day.

Sorlil said...

Okay here's my tuppence - I go for distraction or tickling!! Mostly either or both work, if it doesn't I just leave the room then Sorley pipes down to come and find me then I just distract him with something else. He soon figures out that there's no point having a screaming match without an audience!

Anonymous said...

Yes... out kids continue to be similar. Ben is a screamer too when he doesn't get his own way. His are really more like temper tantrums and they mostly happen around the issue of food. So about a month or so ago i started doing time outs (only when it was a tantrum). I would take him up to his crib, turn all the lights on, take everything out of his reach and let him have a time out. I would leave him to scream for about a minute or two and then go in, calm him down and explain to him why he was having a time out. when we would try the issue again (for us it was signing please when he demanded something and before eating). If he had another tantrum then he would have another time out. I was starting to think that it would never work. I would wait sometimes 20 minutes for him to ask nicely going through several temper tantrums a day... but now we maybe have 1 or 2 a week!!! it has cut down on the screaming because he knows how to ask for something now and he also is very aware that we do not tolerate temper tantrums. It has made for a much happier household. That's what worked for us.


Dena said...

I'm a little late in leaving a comment here. Basically because I really couldn't come up with anything profound. I think I probably screamed back at my kids. I probably flicked their cheek. Picked them up and swatted their bottom and put them in their crib. I really can't remember. But I do remember that it was a phase. I always feel bad for the moms with the screaming child and I wish there were a way to help. I always want to take the kid for her so she can get her shopping done. I remember all too well, the days when Jay would come home from work with "what did you do today?" and I'd just glare at him, because all I got done was grocery shopping, that pretty much did me in during those trying 'phases'.