Friday, March 21, 2008

It's too loud. I'm too old. Help!

As I've mentioned before, 3B has picked up a screaming habit from a playmate at daycare. For awhile, he was just imitating his toddler comrade, so Mrs. K was correcting 3B by telling him, "No screaming." but that only resulted in monologues from 3B:

[scream] No screaming! [scream] Too loud! [scream] No screaming!
On Wednesday, 3B had his first time out for screaming at Mrs. K's. This morning, however, I got an earful of screaming when I extracted him from the under the steering wheel to put him in his car seat--as you've seen, he loves to go into the driver's seat to play with "Knobs! Brake! Shifter! [i]Pod! Driving!"

I'm still a bit woozy from the illness, and possibly from the typhoid vaccination, but those screams, delivered as I bent over 3B to buckle him into his car seat, were so loud and so piercing, they made me dizzy. I really can't believe how someone so small can make a sound so loud without the assistance of a Marshall stack. My ears hurt worse after that than after watching the Who's [first] farewell tour, Fishbone at the Keystone, or even Metallica in the Cow Palace.

Clearly, the time out at Mrs. K's didn't work. Mama and I have talked about using time outs , but we don't think that 3B would really understand them well enough to learn a lesson from them.

But we need to do something.

So I'm asking you, innernets ... I've posted a poll (upper-left corner, there) to learn what has worked for you. Feel free to also leave comments, suggestions, and recommendations for otologists below.

Subscribe to the Bradstein feed--Vorsprung durch Technik!

Better by design
Or get new posts via email . . . Enter your email address:


  1. Anonymous11:22 AM

    I have no idea, but I'll be furiously scribbling notes at what your readers have to say!

  2. Time out does work. Make sure you are consistant, and make it no fun. A chair or stool in the corner works better than the crib. It should be somewhere he only goes when he is naughty. You can turn your back on him when he screams. The real punishment is withdrawal of parental attention. Toys that cause trouble can go in time out too. Especially if two kids disagree over them.

    As cute as he is in the front seat, that needs to stop before he figures out how to do something that makes the car roll. Mean mother that I am, I never let the kids in the driver's seat to "play," because there are too many safety issues there.

  3. CAGirl: Good point...excellent point, in fact. 3B will be disappointed, but safe. My struggle this morning was that the back seat was full of his daycare bag and assorted other detritus, and I had to reinstall his car seat--he rode in his friend J's car to the mall yesterday to ride the merry-go-round. This left me few places to put him, unless I tied him to the bumper. But yeah, next time, I'll find a solution to keep him out of the front seat.

  4. Anonymous2:55 PM

    I'm with Californiagirl. Time outs seem to work for us, if they are extremely boring, given unemotionally, and aren't too long or too short, but juuuust right. 3B might be a tad too young, but then you can do the toddler version: the diversion.

    He screams, you calmly pick him up or move him away from where he is, and quietly say "inside voice please". I think it's better to say what you want, rather than repeating what you don't want. Also at his age, movement is more meaningful than words, so if he's screaming in one room, remove him to another and distract him with something else.

    I think toddlers are still too young for most "discipline" and respond better to redirection.

    Screaming in the car, however, has always been completely verboten in our family. It is not safe to make mama's or papa's head burst open while driving. And we don't let our kids in the front either, because they always steal all the change.

  5. Amama: I thought you would have taught them by now that true change comes from within.

  6. We've used timeouts with Little Man since he was about 18 months old. We give him a minute per year of age, so right now we have about 2 minutes. We always give one warning to correct the behavior and then if not we try to be very clear about why he is sitting out. We stay within sight or sound of him but we ignore him. When either the time is up or he has calmed down, we remind him of why he was there and not to do it again. Then we hug and kiss him and go play. But yeah the redirect usually works for most things to prevent time outs.

    Hubby is really good about doing time outs in public. I'm a little more sensitive to people watching as Little Man screams and rants.

  7. We have the same problem. Porgie screams ALL THE DAMN TIME. I usually just ignore her, but I don't think my approach is working.

  8. Okay, I admit, I only read the beginning of your problem and then the other readers comments.

    First of all, when the screaming gets to be too much, maybe the time out is better on the parent than the child. What I am saying is run and hide!!

    What I use on my kids: They must leave the room and get themselves together before returning. This works when they are older and are realizing that they are responsible for their own behavior. Time out was usually in their room, with all their toys, which was also a safe place for them to go when they are feeling stressed. I agree with the move location and keep talking to them in a calm manner when they are a toddler.

    I would say do not give him what he wants when he is screaming because all he is learning (as his other little friend has learned) is you only get what you want when you scream. I am much older than that now and it still does not work. (I am a screamer too.) If he wants something, he must get calmed down and ask nicely before he gets it. It is okay for the parent to eat a cookie in front of a screaming child, so long as the parent has not been screaming too.

    If all that doesn't work, I suggest ear plugs.

    As for a good ENT doctor, I strongly suggest Dr. Crawford at Madigan Army Medical Center. He did a good job on #3 and we even walked away with the broken piece.

  9. Now, at age 4, the mere mention of a time-out (we don't call it that, rather we simply say go to your room) brings even louder screaming and crying. We prefer to teach something along the lines of "count to ten, compose yourself and talk it out in a normal voice". Works most of the time, and when it doesn't we just scoop her up, drop her on her bed and turn up the stereo!

  10. SJC: Did you get all that?

    --Time outs.
    --Turning up the stereo.

    When we're running down the hallway and it sounds like a party in our place, we'll let all of you explain to our neighbors that it's part of our discipline plan.