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13 MO screams at me and I need gentle parenting advice to handle it

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

DS1 is 13MO and is a very loud boy. Most of the time it is just while playing so even if he is loud it doesnt bother me, he's a kid and I want him to express himself. My problem is when they turn to angry screams directed at me or DH. I have tried saying "No" or "Don't yell at mommy" firmly but that doesn't usually help and I think he is too small to understand time outs. I try to find out what it is he wants, food, diaper change, attention etc. I had a baby a few weeks ago but the screaming started before then and we haven't had any issues with jealousy as long as I am proactive about including him when I a nursing DS2. I have a feeling he is really just trying to communicate a need like nursing or he's hungry, but I have no idea of where to look for good baby signing materials and am wondering if is he too old to learn baby signs? Anyway, any advice about how to deal with this would be appreciated. Thanks!


I also should add that he has started talking and responding to us when we ask him questions but it just sounds like gibberish to us. That is what makes me think he is trying to tell me something but I just don't know what it is.

post #2 of 11

My DD is 14 months old and very intense. She can get really loud if she's upset, but she's usually really good about calming down...if she's handled right.  Here is our strategy, hopefully it will work for you!


1.  Distract.  My DD loves cats.  "Oh look at the kitty picture!  Kitty says xyz!"  Or start singing a silly song, or dancing, or whatever will get their mind off the current trouble.  DD is usually willing to be distracted.

2.  Once they calm down, praise them like they just won the Nobel Prize.  "What a big brave girl you are!  Thank you for calming down!"

3.  Try to figure out what the heck is wrong.  "Are you hungry?"  (sign "food")  "Do you need milk?"  (sign "milk")  Usually DD will reply if it's one of those things.  Otherwise I take a wild guess (or guess that she needs a nap).


It's really important to my DD that she can communicate with us.  It kinda sounds like your DS is getting frustrated because he can't communicate.  Can you understand anything at all of what he says?  DD usually says the first syllable of a word, and then I can figure it out by context.  We also sign. She LOVES signing.  You can check at your local library--that's where we got our signing books.  You don't need anything fancy to start with--just having the signs "milk," "eat," and "more" will make your life sooooooo much easier.  Our DD also loves having somesigns that she just likes (hers are "baby," "hat," "kitty," etc.) that she can use to point out stuff she's interested in or to make jokes with.


Our sign language book is Teach Your Baby to Sign by Monica Beyer, but there are a lot of good ones out there.  I've read that even older toddlers like to sign, and I believe it.  It's worth a shot.  My DD didn't really get into it till she was about 11 months old (she understood the signs and sometimes used them, but not a whole lot), but in the past couple of months she's really gotten excited about it--she loves to be able to tell us stuff and have us understand and respond.  She loves to tell us that she wants, say, green peas at breakfast, or wants to go for a bike ride, or wants a bath because her tummy hurts.  She says a lot of words too but there's no way we could communicate that in words yet.  Also, because she's older now and can understand words, she picks up new signs fast--sometimes she learns a couple a day.  The slow point is me looking them up and showing them to her, not her learning them.  So you shouldn't have much trouble teaching your DS.


Good luck!

post #3 of 11

One tip that I use with my 14mo old has been to whisper back to him. He thinks itʻs really cool and tries to whisper back to me. It doesnʻt always work, but itʻs one of things I use. 

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies! I will try to be more diligent about signs and using simple words so he will pick them up up quicker (maybe). I hadn't thought about about whispering back! Great idea!

post #5 of 11

I don't know how your feel about videos but the Baby Signing Time videos were amazing for us!  They are simple and have songs and DS really enjoyed watching them and I believe most of his first words came from those videos.  Kids are never too old to sign and there is good evidence that signing can help their verbal language development as well.


Your little one sounds like he is experiencing a lot at the same time.  Frustration at his inability to communicate clearly.   Probably some insecurity about the new baby - even if he's not clearly jealous that is a big change for him to process.  Plus you have normal developmental intensity and emotions.  It also sounds to me like a little bit of negative attention seeking (which is very, very normal).  Have you tried a simple "no yelling" then completely remove your attention from him until he quiets down?  When he does quiet down, lavish praise and attention on him, talk about how wonderful his inside voice is, etc.   

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

There have definitely been a lot of changes and he has done SOOO well, which is why I have hesitated to really discipline him strictly... I have o problem with videos... I turn on baby einstien videos for DS1 much more often than I like to admit bag.gif but it is how I have survived these past few weeks... I will look into Baby Signing Time.. He may have already seen it actually, I have found a lot of baby einstien videos on youtube and he really liked one that had a lot of the signs he even repeated the word "Daddy" when that sign and word came up (Which, BTW is so not fair! I talk to him all the time and say mommy to him all the time and he says "Daddy" first! eyesroll.gif)

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

If I leave the room he usually just follows me and then works himself up into crying or he would just sit in whatever room and cry and cry and cry... I don't think he would understand it at this point... He still seems so young and so much like a baby still!

post #8 of 11

I remember this "just past 1 year old" as being kind of a tough age.  They want to communicate sooo badly, but usually can't.  When they can't, you get a lot of screaming/whining/tantruming.  It's such fun, I tell ya. 


I don't recommend using time outs unless you're absolutely sure it's strictly a behavioral situation (versus escalating frustration over failed attempts at communication).  A lot of non-verbal kids hit/bite/scream when they want to communicate but can't.  Communication difficulties should not be treated the same way as behavior problems, IMO. 


It can be frustrating to try to figure out what they're trying to communicate.  Fortunately, as other people have pointed out, there's alternatives like signing that help bridge the gap between not talking and talking.  A lot of kids can get the hang of signing, so it's worth a try.  I taught my son to use signs because I was having the same issues.  You can usually find books/videos to teach signing (to hearing children) at the library. 


Signs you can teach that will solve a lot of the angst:  want, food/eat/drink, some actual food items like "milk", diaper (I use "bathroom"), "help", etc.


I know people who are really gung-ho start doing the signing at like 6 months, but that's always mystified me because not many six month olds have the fine motor skills you would need to make some of the more commonly used signs.  To me, 9-12 months makes a lot more sense in terms of developmental capability for using your hands that way.  And no, you can never be too old...


If you have a kid who does NOT get the signing thing, and want to try another communication tool, another avenue to explore is PECs.  (PM me if you need to know more about this)


Keep encouraging communication, by any means necessary.  Try to "fill in the blanks", or repeat what you think he's saying to model how to do it correctly.  Also, I've found it helpful to read a lot of books (non-fiction and fiction) to build vocabulary, so you have an easy way to facilitate talking.


Good luck!



post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

I haven't been doing time outs because I really don't think he would understand... I think it is mostly communication problems but also might be him wanting attention.. Thanks! I am going to try signing ad let you guys know how it goes! BTW What sign did you teach for nursing?

post #10 of 11

I struggle with this too.  Every morning she screams for her breakfast.  This morning found me screaming back:  "WHEN HAVE I NOT FED YOU BREAKFAST?!?!?!" and the hanging my head in shame.  Hang in there!  flowersforyou.gif

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

FWIW I taught him the sign for "more" and "all done" which has helped tremendously. I also taught the sign for "mommy" but we use it for nursing. I am working on "help" now... thanks for the encouragement!

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