How Can I Stop My Child Screaming?

toddlers playing together without screaming

If you struggle with your child screaming or shouting, you know how difficult it can be to get them to stop.

Children scream when they’re physically hurt, but it’s challenging and often embarrassing when they scream because they feel angry or frustrated, or when they can’t have their own way. 

So how can you stop your child screaming when they’re not in pain?

Why does my child scream?

Children can scream for a wide range of reasons. It’s normal behaviour, particularly for younger children. Your child may use screaming as self-defence to stop another child taking a toy they’re playing with, or to get a sibling to leave their room. 

Young children lack the communication skills to express powerful feelings like anger, frustration and jealousy. They can often respond physically, like screaming, tantrums, biting or hitting, when these emotions become too much for them to manage.

Child screaming and unhappy

If your child gets a big reaction from you, they may learn that screaming is an excellent way to get your attention, even though it’s in a negative way.

And if screaming has worked in the past when you’ve given in to a demand, they can also use it to get what they want. 

How can I stop my child screaming?

We don’t want our children to suppress strong emotions – that’s bad for them. We want them to recognise how they’re feeling and learn alternative ways to express their emotions.

You can help your child by labelling the emotion and talking to them about it. You could say, “I can see you’re feeling frustrated because I said you couldn’t have a new game,” so they understand the emotion they’re experiencing.

If they’re screaming to get your attention, try using a simple sentence without showing lots of emotion to remind them of better ways to get your attention. You might say, “I can see you want me to talk with you. Can you ask me again in a polite voice?”

Instead of focusing on the negatives, praise and give them lots of attention for the positive behaviours they show. They’ll see this is the best way to get you to notice them.

What is the behaviour telling you?

Look behind the behaviour and ask yourself if it might be your child’s way of communicating a problem to you. Could they be worried or frightened about something? Are they struggling with a physical need, like feeling hungry, thirsty, or tired?

Talk to your child about screaming when they’re calm rather than in the heat of the moment. Check out these simple ways to help your child calm down for ideas to help them.

Don’t label them as being “naughty” or “bad” and instead explain how it makes you feel when they scream. Talk about healthier ways they could use to express their feelings.

Find out more 

If your family is always shouting or screaming at each other, our free video series, called The Ask, can help.

We’ll show you how to reduce conflict and arguments with your children so everyone can talk and listen to each other respectfully. Find out more.

Looking for more support?

We know children’s behaviour can be challenging. Our popular webinars and parenting classes are a great way to get advice about the specific challenges you’re facing.

We’ll share simple tips and strategies you can use at home to improve how the whole family communicates with each other. Browse our upcoming events.

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