7 month old keeps screaming/shrieking,
how can I discipline him?
Hi all, my 7 month old boy is generally a lovely happy chap but is going through a phase of screaming whenever he is bored/cross/unhappy. Obviously I try to avoid these situations occurring by keeping him entertained and he gets plenty of sleep, but sometimes it cant be helped. This morning he screamed repeatedly in his high chair whilst I prepared his breakfast, tried to feed him and then cleared up afterwards. He isn't crying with it, it is just repeated single angry screams. He had things to play with, munch on, I knew he wasn't tired and I was singing to try to keep him happy but nothing worked. If he was a few years older I would be angry with this behaviour as it is not acceptable to scream at the top of your lungs to get attention, but I don't know how to convey this to a 7 month old. I know he isn't doing it to be naughty and that it is my responsibility to keep him happy but at the same time it is important to me that I don't send mixed messages so that he thinks it is OK to do it now, but in a years time I suddenly start telling him he is not to do it any more. He went through a phase of it a couple of months ago but it stopped so I thought he was over it, but it has started again in the last week. I have not noticed other babies (which I see a lot of) doing this type of screaming, and whilst I know you cant do much at this age it is loud and therefore embarrassing when in public, and I know it makes for an unpleasant experience for other diners/shoppers so I am keen to do what I can to gently teach him it is not ok!
Any advice from those with a similar experience would be hugely appreciated!
My DD does this - it hadn't even occurred to me to try and stop it at this age (also 7 months).
Parenting fail? (Me)
Believe you me your DS will find far more embarrassing things to do than make a bit of noise
You cannot discipline a 7 month old baby. He is experimenting with his language skills. He has no way of communicating with you other than crying, laughing and making noises - how frustrated would you be with that repertoire?
The best I can suggest is a joking 'Shh - what a noise you're making' type comment before giving him food/toy or moving onto something else. I'm sure things will improve once his language starts to develop.
The only reason you don't think you see other screamy babies is that a) their parents go out less and b) it actually isn't as bad as you think. You always think your baby is louder.
You can't get angry at this. It's what they do. I've had one quiet baby and now my DD is a screamer. Big deal - she's noisy. Sometimes I wear ear plugs while keeping on my cheerful face, serving dinner, playing, whatever. She has separation anxiety and she screams herself practically into a coma if I so much as leave the room. But you just get on with it.
DD has been through screaming phases. As others said they have just realised they can do it and when they do people come running and entertain them. Just double check he is ok, say shush and get on with what you are doing. If he doesn't get a response he will stop pretty quickly.
It's a phase, it will pass
You can't convey that to a 7 month old. He can't even understand the concept of acceptable/not acceptable. Have you thought he might be teething? DD screamed her head off for ages when she was teething. The fact he did it 2 months ago then stopped and now started again would fit with that. That would be the gap in between teeth coming through. And of course when they're bored/hungry/tired they notice the pain more so that's when it kicks off. That's another reason you can't discipline him about this. He can't tell you if there's something really wrong. She wasn't crying with it either, just screaming. If there's something bothering them, you can't say it's unacceptable for them to scream.
You won't send mixed messages about it either. A few months from now he won't have any memory of doing it or how you responded to it now. It's perfectly consistent to treat an 18 month old differently to a 7 month old. The rules change as they get older and that's how it has to be. You say it's your job to keep him happy. Might it be that you feel like you're failing a bit when he's unhappy and that makes you a bit angry with him even though you feel you shouldn't be? I do that. It helps to remind myself that I'm not responsible for DD's happiness because the truth is you can't control anyone else's emotions, even your own baby. My job is to support her with all her emotions, pleasant and unpleasant and help her learn to manage them. Trying to keep that outlook lets me stay with her when she's angry or frustrated and stay calm enough to be able to help her as best I can.
As for other people, it's partly pure chance that you haven't come across it in other babies, partly that a lot of them are hiding at home until their screamers grow out of it. It's common as muck for babies to go through screaming phases and out in public people can and do suck it up. If you need to go out then you need to go out. I know it's embarrassing. I had restaurants and bus loads of people go completely silent and stare at me as I tried to distract DD from screaming fits. I gave up and went home more than once. Maybe see if it might be teeth/earache or something. Then if you've done all you can, just repeat your 'it's a phase' mantra and get lots of breaks so you can keep your sanity. It will pass.
One way I've used that always worked on mine and others is staying away while he screams but when he is silent for 5 secs go into him. Increase the time a little bit each time. then they learn that silence or happy noise is best.
Its not teaching then what is "unacceptable" as they won't understand, its showing a that screaming won't get attention but being quiet will.
JokersGiggle, I wouldn't want to try and teach a 7 month old that they will be ignored if they cry! And only attended to if they are silent or make "happy noises". A baby has to cry to attract attention - they don't have any other means of communication. It usually means that they need something, or are in pain, bored etc.
OP there's nothing you can do at 7 months to try and "discipline" your ds about the screaming. If it definitely isn't pain, then just carry on doing what you need to do, and try not to let it bug you.
He's only 7 months old. It's not a behavioural issue. You can just ignore it and he'll be onto the next noise before long. If it makes you feel better then don't give him the food or whatever if he screams for it, wait till he's quiet. No one will judge a 7mo baby squealing in public.
Have you looked into baby sign language? Our LO stopped screeching when she could sign "milk", "drink" and "more". Start teaching now and he'll start signing back around 12-13mo.
Discipline and 7 month old baby don't go in the same sentence in fact forget "7 month old" discipline and baby don't go in the same sentence.
What are you going to do in 15 months when you have a terrible two to deal with?
Discipline ... Not appropriate for a 7 month old.
Seek to find ways of managing your anxieties/ frustrations about it.
I think my baby is the schreechiest in the world when impatient, excited, bored etc etc. I'd not even thought about trying to stop him...figured he's just trying different noises out.
Its not crying you ignore, its screaming without reason that you ignore.
Its like crying wolf - when they genuinely scream you'll think its just a general scream DVD not respond promptly (wear ear plugs.....)
More point, how does baby know the difference?
You can hear the distress in the crying.
Screaming for no reason dounds different, did with mine anyway.
Ignor him when he screams like that. Believe me, you can train a 7 month baby what is good or bad behaviour. It's absolute nonsense to say you can't. Eventually he'll get the hint.
My DD2 is 7months old and going through a screaming/shrieking phase. It's a phase. It'll pass. DD1 did it too. She's just learning new sounds.
Why would you even think of teaching a 7 month old that silence is best?
Just avoid places where you'd feel uncomfortable with him at the moment-smart restaurants, the theatre, cathedral services,
Waitrose when I'm there and the like.
Wait till he can tell you just what he wants-you might wish he was just doing a bit of shouting!
Finally! Someone who thinks like I do! Thanks bowery
Cannot believe this is real.
Screaming and shouting is part of their development - you would be stunting this development by disciplining him.
I really think you need to read a few child development books. You sound very naive (at best). Poor little baby being told off for entirely normal behaviour.
You cannot discipline a baby - it is pointless so don't try.
I would suggest you try distraction as your main tool. Make sure that you always have a small selection of toys to distract him, as he gets further into weaning you might find having something to nibble will break the cycle of screaming.
Leave the discipline for when they understand it - around 2 years old according to most of the research I have done.
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