I Don't Know What To Do.. :( - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 06-23-2010, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is ridiculous. My girlie has suddenly started some sort of Primal Scream therapy over the past 2 days. Today, after getting groceries, she didn't want to walk inside the house. She wanted to be carried. I told her she's big enough to walk, my arms were full. She started screaming. After all the groceries were inside, I picked her up and put her in the door way so I could close the door. She CRAWLED back outside just to sit and start screaming! I picked her up again except this time I blocked her from going back out. As soon as I close the door, she starts primal screaming (it's the best I can describe it). No tears or words, just as loud as she can. I tell her she's angry, give her hugs and nurse her and she's quiet. (I don't know what else to tell her about being angry, mainly because I don't know what exactly her problem is)

She sees the tomatoes and starts asking for them. I tell her she has to wait until I get the groceries put up. I move her out of the refrigerator and close the door and she starts the screams again. I know I made mistake here, I told her she couldn't have tomatoes if she's yelling like that. She did stop after a minute and started saying "tomato?" again. I gave her tomatoes after I finished putting up the groceries, but I'm worried that I might have inadvertently reinforced the screams by doing so (since she started to scream again at that point but then went quiet as soon as she saw me cutting them up). DH said she needs to start going to time-out, but I want to avoid doing that. I don't know what else to do, though.

What would you do? How do I stop this screaming before it becomes a habit?

ETA: She's a little over 2 years old.

Mom to a 2.5 girlie and a new one in late February/early March
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#2 of 14 Old 06-23-2010, 03:30 PM
 
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How old is your daughter?

Does she understand things you tell her pretty well?

And it sounds like the impression she's giving you is that she's angry, not just impressed with the loud noise she can make or trying to get a rise out of you?
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#3 of 14 Old 06-23-2010, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ah, sorry, I thought I had a ticker here. She's a little over 2 years old.

Mom to a 2.5 girlie and a new one in late February/early March
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#4 of 14 Old 06-23-2010, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Letitia View Post
How old is your daughter?

Does she understand things you tell her pretty well?

And it sounds like the impression she's giving you is that she's angry, not just impressed with the loud noise she can make or trying to get a rise out of you?
I'm not sure if she understands, she doesn't seem to listen. And yes, it is definitely anger. Her happy noise is quite different (and happy). I'm not sure if it's complete anger though, I'm kind of getting the feeling she's using it to try to make me drop everything and she's angry at the same time. It's hard to explain.

Mom to a 2.5 girlie and a new one in late February/early March
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#5 of 14 Old 06-23-2010, 03:44 PM
 
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My son screamed really loud for a while when he was younger, maybe 18 months. Seemed to happen most often at the dinner table. I don't think he was angry, I think he was mostly impressed at the amount of noise he could make and how annoyed he could make us.

We moved him (in his high chair, so it was easy) away from the table so it wasn't quite so loud right in our ears. When he was done we'd pull him back. Just distancing him enough so that we were no longer reacting to his scream with acute discomfort seemed very effective - as soon as it wasn't bugging us as much it lost its luster for him.

Don't know if that's helpful, sounds like yours may be different screaming.
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#6 of 14 Old 06-23-2010, 04:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's completely different than that (it's angry, not happy). Thanks for responding though.

Mom to a 2.5 girlie and a new one in late February/early March
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#7 of 14 Old 06-23-2010, 04:09 PM
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What would you do? How do I stop this screaming before it becomes a habit?
Toddler and preschool behavior doesn't become a habit. They outgrow it. Tantrums are how LOs learn to deal with overwhelming emotions. It's useful to validate and label their emotion, for example "You're angry because you want the tomatoes now". We always calmly sympathized when our DD was having a tantrum. Age 2.5 was her most tantrum prone age. When she was able to say "I'm angry!" at a couple of months after turning 3 most of the tantrums were over. Now at 4.5 she usually says "I'm angry, I'm going to MY room.", and then she comes out after she has calmed down. She's pretty cooperative and helpful most of time, and we've never done anything but be supportive during a meltdown. One reason you don't want to punish a child for having a tantrum because hiding their reaction to being overwhelmed undermines their learning to deal with it. Also it sends the messages to the child that you only like them when they are pleasant, you can't handle their big emotions either, and expressing emotion is bad. Time outs should not be used for overwhelmingly emotion tantrums. Time outs feel isolating and you never want to isolate and reject your child just because they feel overwhelmed.

The age of your DD could really makes a difference in the kind of behavior you described. It sounds like she really needed some cuddle time and she was hungry. Kids 3 and under are still very much babies in a lot of ways.
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#8 of 14 Old 06-23-2010, 11:44 PM
 
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I'm glad you posted. My DS is a little younger than yours and I'm seeing his tantrums for the first time (I am a teacher and this is our first week together full time since last summer). I can so relate!

SSH- Do you have any recommendations for a good book about toddlers?? All I've read is "Happiest Toddler on the Block," which was *eh*.

I'm a counselor, so I do the empathy thing naturally anyway. It's when I give empathy and DS's response is to hit me or rage even more that I get stumped.

Also- how to deal when you CAN'T give them what they want right away. With the OP- her hands were full with groceries, then the tomatoes hadn't been cleaned. With my DS- we had the same tantrum with grapes on Monday. He wanted them NOW, but we had just walked in from the store. Also, yesterday when he wanted in the house NOW but we had toys all over our driveway (and the neighbor's driveway).

*sigh* Nothing like a 2-year old to make you feel completely incompetent.

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#9 of 14 Old 06-24-2010, 04:04 PM
 
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OP, just wanted you to know that your post described many, many arrivals home from the grocery store with my just-turned-two year old! LOL. My DD is *such* a drama queen...I hate to label her like that but really, she is. She screams sometimes even when she's not angry, or cries on purpose because she's tired and she expresses it by deliberately crying. It's really funny, actually. She also does the freak-out-angry screaming, and man, it's like an air siren going off in my house! I just roll with it. Like other posters have said, it really isn't a habit or behavior issue so much as just immaturity. They don't know how to handle their emotions, so...they scream.

With my daughter, if I can't carry her or give her tomatoes or whatever, I just empathize calmly. Sometimes if she's not *too* upset, I can distract her by telling her to make different faces. Like today she cried as soon as we got home because it was naptime (we get home just in time for nap *every day,* but for some reason this also necessitates crying, basically as an announcement that she's tired), but I said, "can you smile? can you make a happy face?" and she did. I kept having her make different faces all the way into the house. Then she cried again. Fifteen minutes later she was asleep.

But really, the best advice I have for you is to head it off with food and sleep. If my DD is really losing it like you were describing, it's almost always because she's hungry or tired. Usually both. I always have a LOT of (healthy) snacks so I know I have something that she'll eat. When she starts to get the slightest bit whiney or difficult, I feed her.

And btw, OP, I think you handled the situation perfectly. You gave her tomatoes AFTER she had calmed down, which is a HUGE step for her. Being able to calm herself down like that is really, really difficult for a toddler--not something I think we can expect all the time--but I agree that we shouldn't give them what they're asking for WHILE they're screaming for it. But when she stopped herself--yeah. That's awesome. Also, you were consistent: you told her she could have a tomato after you put away the groceries, and that's what you did. That consistency of actions and words is really reassuring for a toddler.

(For example, when my DD is nursing sometimes she'll hit me, and I always tell her if she hits me again then I'll take the milk away. Without fail, she hits me again--this time with a grin on her face. She wants to see if my words and my actions will line up. I always put her down then, of course. And she's only upset about it for a second, usually. She needs to test the boundaries of words and reality. I need to find a better way for her to do that, but anyway...!)

Oh, and nursing is always a wonderful cure for tantrums! I don't know how I would parent my DD without being able to nurse to calm her down sometimes!

Mama to DD, my 2/24/08 BIG KID formerly known as sling baby, and DS, my 12/23/11 train-loving, wall-climbing toddler! 
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#10 of 14 Old 06-24-2010, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Belia View Post
I'm glad you posted. My DS is a little younger than yours and I'm seeing his tantrums for the first time (I am a teacher and this is our first week together full time since last summer). I can so relate!

SSH- Do you have any recommendations for a good book about toddlers?? All I've read is "Happiest Toddler on the Block," which was *eh*.

I'm a counselor, so I do the empathy thing naturally anyway. It's when I give empathy and DS's response is to hit me or rage even more that I get stumped.

Also- how to deal when you CAN'T give them what they want right away. With the OP- her hands were full with groceries, then the tomatoes hadn't been cleaned. With my DS- we had the same tantrum with grapes on Monday. He wanted them NOW, but we had just walked in from the store. Also, yesterday when he wanted in the house NOW but we had toys all over our driveway (and the neighbor's driveway).

*sigh* Nothing like a 2-year old to make you feel completely incompetent.
I really loved Mary Kurcinka's Raising Your Spirited Child because it helped me understand the why behind behaviors and prevent some annoying ones. The book firsts helps you identify your child's temperament traits then based on those traits you know how your LO is likely to react and behave in various situations. Another book I really is about development and how our behavior effects our child's behavior and neurological development is The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland. It discuses the common causes of annoying behaviors and has some very practical advice on preventing them. I wasn't too impressed with Happiest toddler either.

The thing with 2 year olds not being able to reason is they are completely unreasonable at times. One of my 4.5 year old's worst tantrums happened at 2.5 and was over the fact she wanted to bring half of a peeled banana to bed as a cuddle object. It would have been too messy for her to squeeze a half eaten banana while nursing to sleep. It would have gotten all over both of us. She was inconsolable. Some tantrums you just have to survive calmly.
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#11 of 14 Old 06-26-2010, 02:52 AM
 
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My DS is a few months over 2yo and he wines and screams often. I tell him that if he wants to fuss he can go to the 'fussing room' (his bedroom or wherever I can find one depending on where we are). At first he thought he was being punished but I explain that he can come out when he's done fussing and give him a hug, walk him in, leave and close the door behind me. At first he would come out still screaming but I would just out him back in. The key for me is not to let him know the sound is bothering me at all. Now it works a charm. He wants to scream and fuss but does not mind doing it in his room with all his toys. When he's done he will come out, or just stay in his room and play. Sometimes he even puts himself in the fussing room when he's mad. It works great for both of us
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#12 of 14 Old 06-26-2010, 03:29 AM
 
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My great insight into tantrums (that's what your dd is doing) came when I realized that I didn't have to fix it, and I didn't have to make my kids stop. I did sometimes separate myself if the screams got too much, but that was more for my sanity's sake.

Instead, my job was to help my child through the powerful emotions that were overwhelming them. For one of my kids, that meant leaving him alone until he was ready for some comfort. One the other, it meant holding her while she calmed down. Sometimes I couldn't do that because I was busy (putting away groceries, cooking), and so it had to wait. That's OK. Screaming might drive you mad, but it's not that harmful.

At 2, a child doesn't have much ability to withstand frustration, and if they're hungry or tired, that ability all but disappears. This is a discipline issue in that you need to teach your daughter how to manage her emotions, but that's a long term thing. In the short term, it's not a 'discipline' issue for punishment, which is what a time out would probably be. If you need a breather from the screams, I can see putting her in her room until you can attend to her. But at 2, I can't see a time out doing much good.

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#13 of 14 Old 09-12-2010, 11:32 AM
 
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Reviving this thread with a question in mind. My DD (2 next month) is a screamer BIG TIME. And I get that she's learning how to deal with the emotions, and I've handled it in the way described here...

but.

She starts preschool in January (mandatory, as I start a nursing program). She cannot carry on with the screaming like that at daycare. Ear piercing, bloodcurdling, sounding like she's being murdered screaming, over everything, from wanting a toy someone else has to being told she can't have something rightthissecond to beign told she can't do xyz at this moment, etc....

So there has to be some kind of "discipline" here in the sense that I have to help her learn another way to express herself. Thoughts? I am surely not the only one who has been in this situation, right?

Me: married to my :fireman Mama to my littles: Toby 8/04 and Elina 10/08
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#14 of 14 Old 09-12-2010, 06:37 PM
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Good preschool teachers are used to dealing with age appropriate behavior even the annoying ones. Also your DD will probably save her most intense behaviors for you. LOs usually feel safest with their primary care givers and save their worse behavior for that person. The screaming stuff is a phase and may not be happening by January anyhow, although at 2.5 my DDs was most prone to tantrums.
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