Posted in Positive Parenting, Therapy

When Children Scream and Yell: Calm Parenting Advice


Things can get pretty noisy with kids around.  Sometimes it feels downright unbearable to us when our child’s emotions are like a runaway train.  The yelling, the screaming.  What’s a parent to do?

Do You Scream Back?
Do you ever chime in with the screaming chorus?  Sometimes it seems as if this is the only way to get our kids back on track.  But is it, really?

Nobody has ever proven that kids listen better when we raise our voices.
In fact, research has shown the opposite.
It is our job to help our kids learn how to handle BIG emotions.  The more out of control a child gets, the more he relies on us to demonstrate calm and soothing behavior.  When our behavior starts to mimic that of the child who is on an emotional rollercoaster, there is double-trouble.

1.  First, we have missed a golden opportunity to help our child learn how to self-regulate and manage over the top feelings.

2.  We have just reinforced that behavior by providing an emotional fireworks display of our own.

Remember that a child who is drunk on emotion is not going out of his way to inconvenience you, but rather, is asking you for assistance.  Don’t personalize!

When your child yells, 
screams or otherwise explodes,
try getting quieter, not louder!

What Will the Neighbors Think?

Worried what the neighbors might think when they hear your child screaming at earth shattering decibels? What do you suppose they think when they hear BOTH your child AND you falling apart at the seams?

Children scream and yell because they do not have full control of their emotions. Staying calm is a skill that takes time to master..and modeling from adults who already know how to do it.  Remaining calm when our child is anything but, isn’t always easy, but it is always possible.

Technically Speaking
From a technical perspective, our prefrontal cortex (highest thinking part of our brain) mediates the limbic system (the seat of the emotions)…and helps us control otherwise “out-of-control” feelings.  It takes a lot of physical development and a big learning curve to become fully in control of our emotions.  This task is even bigger for kids who enjoy intense temperaments.

It’s Not Personal
When we bear in mind that our child is not yelling, screaming or exploding to make our day miserable, we have a much better chance of responding more calmly.  Recognizing that our kids need our help to learn the skill of managing BIG emotions puts us squarely back in our child’s corner…right where we belong.

All is Not Lost
Maybe you’re a parent who has resorted to screaming (and we all know how easy it is to do) in the past.  Today is a new day.  You can do it differently starting today.  Sometimes we have to change our own behavior in order to help our kids change, too.

So what’s a parent to do?  How can a parent rein in their own emotions when their child is pushing all of their buttons?  The secret is changing what you think.  When you change how you think, you change how you feel.  And that makes all the difference.  For your child and for you!

Rather than telling yourself things that sabotage your child and you, such as, “Here we go again!”, “I can’t stand this!”, and “This is going to be the death of me!”, try replacing those thoughts with a new mantra, “I can handle this!”, “This kid needs me to model calm!”, “Here’s my chance to help him deal with big emotions”.

Parents, keep calm and carry on!  Know that you are in good company…emotional scenes that play out in your home are also playing out in homes across the country.

What will your mantra be the next time junior has a meltdown?

Calm Parenting Tip:  When your child starts screaming, try to overcome your own emotional response.  Rather than saying to yourself, “Here we go again!  I can’t take this!”, try to say this instead, “He still needs my help in learning how to calm down.  I’ll keep teaching him until he gets it on his own!”

Until the Sun Comes Out Again: Weathering Emotional Storms with Your Child

images images-2

It Doesn’t Last Forever
A mere few weeks ago I was huddled up and gazing outside at the swirling wind, swaying branches and falling snow   That day reminded me that the weather can be a lot like a child’s behavior.  Sometimes unpredictable, sometimes unexpected, but it never lasts forever!  That is the beauty of it.
When we are dealing with challenging behavior, we need to keep that in mind, too.
It doesn’t last forever!  
It may provide us with some moments of frustration, inconvenience, and perhaps a few headaches.  But our child’s misbehavior isn’t really about us.  Any more than the weather is.
Caution: SLOW DOWN!
snow road
On a wintery stormy day, you have to leave the warmth of your home to go somewhere -It becomes a long drive…in bad weather…and with slippery roads. You need to adjust for all of this. You drive slower, take your time.  Because getting home safely is your goal.
When our kids are really challenging, we need to prepare for that, as well.  We need to make adjustments.  We need to slow down, to take our time.  Just like we do for the weather.
Blue Skies
Wishing you blue skies and sunshine as you parent…but most of all, I wish you the ability to see through the emotional storms…and to provide your child with a safe harbor…until the sun comes out again.  And it always does.


Mother, Pediatric Nurse and a Trail Blazer for Positive Change.

2 thoughts on “When Children Scream and Yell: Calm Parenting Advice

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s