Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Toronto, Canada
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Some people on this board have probably read my screaming story a few too many times but here I go again. My son was a real screamer so I know just what you mean by "ears hurt, head spin, blood pressure rise". When he was a baby it just seemed to be his noise, it didn't seem to indicate anything, he was just screaming to himself. Ow. We tried to ignore it, re-direct, etc. When he was about 18 mo he realised what a powerful thing this scream was and started doing it to get a reaction. We tried to continue to ignore or re-direct but it got really hard to handle. It really pushes your buttons, doesn't it? Especially when the screaming is accompanied by a knowing grin. Anyway, one day, he screamed while I was changing his diaper. We had been playing and tickling with direct eye contact but when he screamed I just looked away and dropped all emotion from my face (I was trying to control myself, actually, I was just so disappointed that the screaming had interrupted our fun). He stopped immediately and I could tell he was studying my reaction intently so from that time on whenever he would scream I would look away and stop interacting so he really saw the consequences of the screaming. I gave him back my eye contact/attention after only a few moments of no screaming so he could see the flip side. He tested this for a while but eventually stopped altogether. He's about 30 mos now and if he screams we just have to say no screaming.
Since your dd is already 30mos. she should be able to understand some more direct explanation like "I don't want to play with you when you scream. It hurts my ears." Then you go away. I think the key is to decide on a logical consequence and stick to it, applying it at every infraction for as long as it takes.
I know screaming at the dinner table is tough to handle because you don't want to interrupt dinner time. All I can think of is to ignore her but tell her why you are ignoring her. "I can't talk to you when you are screaming." Oh I don't know, that's a tough one! Just don't get upset. I think that's what got through to my ds was the absolute no reaction. Kind of Zombie Mom, ya know?
Hope that's some help,