Quieting Down a Screaming Toddler
Few things are as mortifying as a toddler starting a screaming session in the middle of a grocery store, or as annoying as a toddler testing the full extent of its vocals at home or in the car, but before you start to lose your temper, take the time to understand why exactly your toddler is behaving the way it is and how you can effectively deal with its screaming.

Why It Happens

Toddlers between the ages of 12-24 months will usually be busy experimenting with their vocal cords as they learn to manipulate their voices and produce different sounds, and that often translates into occasional, and sometimes regular, bouts of screaming. Luckily, toddlers’ fascination with screaming is temporary, and they soon outgrow this phase. 

Since toddlers have yet to develop the vocabulary they need to properly express themselves, they use screaming to communicate feelings such as excitement, anger, fear, boredom, exhaustion, or even joy. Screaming is also a good way to get adult’s attention or try to coerce them into giving them something they want.

Dealing with Screaming

Losing your temper will never get you the results that you want with a screaming child. Instead, check out the following strategies on how to calm down a noisy toddler:

  • Stay calm and ask your toddler to use its little voice. Set a good example for your child by staying calm and using a gentle voice when speaking with it. Using neutral tones will stop the situation from escalating. Don’t criticize if your toddler is screaming out of unhappiness; instead, ask it to use its “little voice”, making sure that you lower your own voice to force your toddler to quiet down in order to hear you. Once your toddler quiets down, try to distract it by taking its mind of what’s bothering it or dealing with the problem directly.
  • Acknowledge your toddler’s feelings. If your toddler's trying to get your attention through screaming, ask yourself whether your toddler is really uncomfortable and address the reason behind your child’s discomfort, such as leaving the mall if your toddler is feeling tired and overwhelmed and switching to a quieter grocery store or market. Acknowledge your toddler’s feelings by explaining calmly that you only need a few more minutes to get what you need and then you will be going home to rest. This will both comfort your child and help it quiet down.
  • Turn it into a game. Start out by having a screaming competition to see who can yell the loudest, and after a few giggles switch to seeing who can whisper the best, then who can hop the best, and so on. Try to find creative ways of making your child understand that there are other ways of having fun aside from screaming.
  • Don’t give in. If your toddler is screaming because it wants something you’re not prepared to give it, stick to your decision and don’t back down. Giving in to your child’s tantrums will only lead it to believe that it can get you to do whatever it wants by screaming and crying.
  • Distract your toddler. If your toddler has decided that screaming is its current method of entertainment, distract it by playing a quieter game with it, such as Eye Spy. This is particularly useful if you’re with your toddler in the car or at the grocery store and need it to quiet town. You can also try to get your toddler involved in whatever it is that you’re doing to take its mind off.