You have a planned day – first the Parents Teacher Meeting, followed by shopping, then back home. But unfortunately, while you are in the midst of shopping, your ‘small wonder’ starts behaving monstrously and you are in no mood to tolerate anything now and spoil your whole day (what to mention about the mood).
However, with a screaming and yelling child, you cannot continue either. Your other one, a 9 year old, is too small to care of the menace and you need immediate respite from the glaring eyes. Both of you may be staring at each other bewildered.
First understand that you are probably not alone calculating seconds before your little one calms down. It is a common problem among children of young age group (especially pre-schoolers). Sadly, what may work once may essentially not work always (your child can be too smart at negating your efforts).
However, this does not mean you should give up and do nothing but undergo the embarrassment. There are some quick fixes which can be tried. However, strategy holds the key when handling a screaming child over sustained basis. Read on to explore some really useful ways to handle a screaming child. One can work better than the other, depending on the temperament of your child. Effectiveness depends considerably on how you implement them.
Ways to Handle A Screaming Child
Distract or Divert From the Trigger
Having found your child’s stickiness, try to divert his/her attention at the earliest before the situation becomes troubling for either of you. And remember, when you want to divert or distract attention, you have got to be quick at switching attention to something (more) interesting but soothing. This technique can work well with toddlers or very small children; but do not count on this trick always as your child can be too smart to outdo your trick much before you thought.
Find Solitude and Seclusion
It can happen that even though you have tried many things, your child would not co-operate and calm down. In such a situation, you can take your child to a secluded or private place and try relaxing him/her. Sometimes, all he/she may crib for is a little of your warm touch minus public stance.
If you are at a public place, choose a separate area (where less people are present). When at home, you can go to another room where you are alone with the child. Spend some time together, and while you console your child, try asking the reason for restlessness.
Refrain from Giving in and Bribing
You may consider that if you bribe your child or give in to his/her demand, it can calm the situation. But this can bring only a temporary respite, and more that often, aggravate the situation. You may find it more difficult to handle the situation later when it strikes with (may be) a magnified spectrum.
Acknowledge your child’s feelings and help him/her work through it. But do not bribe your child of an unjust thing for buying peace and calmness. This can raise expectations for more bribes to follow. And then, you may find yourself helpless.
Make use of Structure and Strategy
Screaming or other tantrums may not be an extraordinary thing to discover in a child. It may come of age and, often, retreats spontaneously. However, once you observe this behavior it is important that you train your child by implementing a strategy.
If you lack structure, you cannot expect to find a solution every time your child puts you in a challenging situation by screaming or shouting. It can also happen that your child may imbibe your instructions as commands and create fertile ground for power struggles to erupt quite often.
When your child is calm and receptive, implement a way of de-personalizing events and instructions. For instance, dinner time is only meant for eating and enjoying food, not watching television (provided you also refrain from doing the same). Gradually, your child shall adopt and attune to the structure and reflect less of unfavorable reactions.
No Reaction to the Action
True that it is, every action has a reaction. However, sometimes the best reaction is no reaction or ignorance. This is especially applicable to older (and seemingly mature) child who throws tantrums to gain attention. The message conveyed should be clear that his/her unjust demands would not be adhered to for any reason.
If you are uncomfortable of the screaming (or noise), leave the place but do not give in to the temptation to retaliate. Screaming right back can make you a winner in the competition but ultimately none of you shall gain anything out of the drama.
Be a Mirror to your Child
Children can be trained in a good way by citing practical instances. And when the practicality focuses on you (mother or father), he/she can understand even better. So the next time you want to cite an example, include yourself instead of someone else. Children are very keen to follow their parents and mentors.
If your child lives in an environment where you (as parent) yell a lot, then you cannot expect him/her to underperform. The screaming sessions would reduce to a minimum when you keep a check on yourself (or the environment in which the child lives).
Recapitulate and Repeat
It can be too demanding to sooth a screaming child and simultaneously make him/her understand that what he/she just did was undesirable and unacceptable. Give your child some time to relax and behave normally. When the time is opportune, sit with him/her and discuss about the behavior and its ill effect. Teach anger management techniques and ways to handle an awful or difficult situation.
Pick a pleasant day for conversation. Do not deliver a speech, but exchange notions and views. Avoid getting deep into discussion and let it be a smooth talk. Continue with the chores but remember to repeat when you feel the need later again. The earlier your child adopts coping skills, the better it is. But give sufficient time before making calculations about reward and punishment.
Incorporate Preventive Measures
Being close to your child, you can surely identify the reason behind his/her screaming and undesirable behaviors. Identify when, why and how tantrums occur. After finding the trigger, try eliminating it whenever possible.
Often, you can find a pattern of events which sets the stage for drama. Break the league and inhibit the pattern. This stage shall pass soon with consistent efforts from your end.