Michele Borba answers your parenting questions right here on her blog. If you have a parenting problem or question leave a comment on this post and you may have yours answered.
I have a 7 almost 8 month old son that is around his 2 sisters and has picked up screaming from them. He screams so loud are ears are ringing by the time he's done. Any advice how you can get a baby to stop screaming please? Thanks! -Stephan
Here's the nitty gritty on little screamers: Kids scream because they've learned it works and they will continue to scream if you allow it. Your 8-month-old has clearly learned to scream by copying his older sisters. So far, none of this is new information. These great insights came from you. So here's the new part...
Don't try to change your eight month old baby. He's old the copycat and he will keep yelling until you do lose your hearing. Focus your efforts on stopping his two older sisters from screaming and pronto!
Allowing this screaming behavior to continue will do more than cause everyone to lose their hearing. You also stand to lose family harmony, emotional health, cause sibling rivalry, build stress, breakdown respect and create defiant kids.
Here are the steps to curbing yelling and turning this behavior around:
1. Take the vow of "yell-ibacy" as a family. When things are calm and cool, sit down with your older kids and clearly state your new house policy: No more yelling. Describe why you object and the consequences if it continues. Ask your kids for ideas to help them stop yelling (Ya never know. They may have a few great ideas).
2. Use a time-out signal. The nanosecond you recognize your kids are in "yell mode" give a quiet warning signal like one that umpires use (the time out signal is great) to cease and desist. A nonverbal signal helps you from not yelling. The trick is to catch your kids before the sonic boom.
3. Red card your daughters for yelling. If the volume doesn't lower then give out an immediate red card. Then red card is an automatic lose of a privilege (just make sure it's something they care about) such as no television or dessert.
4. Watch your behavior. Make sure you do not scream. Whisper. Really! But do not scream. You'll only send a message to your kids that it is acceptable.
5. Allow family time-outs. Any member who feels the urge to scream or is being screamed at may respectfully walk away until she gets back in control.
6. Praise your kids when they talk calmly and are in control. Some parents swear by reward charts. After a certain number of earned stickers for calm behavior the child may choose a prize or a privilege.
7. Mobilize compassion. Try to enlist your two older kids to help you help your baby to be calm. He screams because he is responding to a stressful situation. Try massage, cooing, listing to soothing music, rocking, singing softly. Just tune down that volume.
Don't give up. This change will take consistency. It will take fortitude.But please stick to the vow of yell-ibacy. No more yelling. It is deadly in a household and to your children's emotional well-being.
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