Please help! My toddler is 16 months and she’s very vocal meaning her favorite thing to do these days is scream at the top of her lungs for no apparent reason at all. Telling her “no” firmly just seems to encourage her to continue to scream. Ignoring her doesn’t seem to work either. Is this just a phase? Or is there something that my husband and I should be doing to try and rectify the issue? I have no problem with her talking and being vocal – but the ear piercing screaming is a lot to handle and we can’t seem to get her to kick the habit.
Dear Reader -
The screaming is annoying, but it’s normal. She gets attention by screaming…so she continues to do it. The biggest mistake parents make about discipline is that they expect instant gratification. Just remember this: you are planting the seeds of discipline. Do not expect a tree to grow overnight! With that said the best response is no response. She learns that screaming does NOT get your attention at all. She will test you numerous times to be sure that you really don’t pay attention to her—but if you’re consistent she will eventually stop. In the meantime, noise-canceling headphones might make a nice gift for you. Good luck!
Ari Brown, MD