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How do you stop hysterical screaming?

(30 Posts)
eldestgirl Sat 11-Sep-04 01:55:07

3 year old ds has started to scream every time he doesn't want to do something (eg sit down for a meal, clean teeth, get in the bath etc) and on at least 3 occasions, this has quickly escalated into full throttle screaming the place down. I've tried cuddling him, putting in his room for time out (makes it worse), talking to him above the din but none of it works, unless you count leaving him in his room for half an hour with the door secured ajar (Dr Christopher Green)when I think he just got exhausted. It's really getting me down as my husband works away a lot, so it's mostly just me and the two boys (ds2 is 1). I reached breaking point this morning, when he started screaming in his bed at 5am. I have got a star chart on the wall for staying in bed til it's daytime (7am here) as he was a habitual visitor to our room. It worked really well for one week but the second week has been useless. Anyway, he started screaming "I don't want to stay in bed!" and it escalated into full throttle hysterics very quickly when I walked in and told him he had to go back to sleep because he would wake up his brother. He ended up screaming hysterically in my arms for 15 minutes and I ended up in tears as there seemed to be nothing I could do. Does anyone have any similar experiences and do you have any calming techniques?

This is the second time I have posted a question in under 12 hours as DS1 fell and gashed his gum in the bath last night. I am having the weekend alone from hell!

Tortington Sat 11-Sep-04 02:16:58

ignore him and walk away

zebra Sat 11-Sep-04 04:29:45

Ignorning & Walking away doesn't work well for us... not fair on the other children, either who find their movie viewing/whatever being disturbed. Instead, we shove DD outside (literally, the neighbours must love us!), or sometimes just banish her to another room. That cuts it short pretty fast.

Try to foresee the trigger incidents if you can and defuse... not that we always manage to do this, but it's wonderful when we do!

Twiglett Sat 11-Sep-04 07:22:35

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MarmaladeSun Sat 11-Sep-04 10:33:02

When I was doing my training to become a childminder, we dealt quite extensively with ways to defuse a situation exactly like the ones you are describing. Time out/ rationally explaining etc...the one that really worked though (at least for me) was doing the opposite to the child i.e if they are shouting/screaming then you should whisper to them! I don't know what it is, maybe curiosity on their part, but it almost always stopped mine mid scream. Sounds a bit 'tree-huggy' I know but if it works, then...*shrug*. HTH

Tortington Sat 11-Sep-04 15:16:09

wsn;t there a thread once where a mum chucked water on the kid every time it started hysterics. fantastic, maybe someone can find it for you.

as for ignoring them,yeah take your point but it does work for us and we do have other children. what always worked was taking the non hysterical kids out to the garden and having fun playing ball or just laughing and messing about. nothing like jealousy to make a sibling want to join in and behave themselves. in my experience that is

Jimjams Sat 11-Sep-04 15:45:14

We ignore as well. In fact ds1 is screaming now. (Not sure why I think because he thought we were going to granny and grandad's and we weren't some sort of misunderstanding anyway)- when he loses it the fastest way to calm him is actually to completely ignore it- if we try to explain etc then he just escalates. Once he is calmer (beginning to be now- taken 15 minutes) then I go and distract- do something else. I only intervene if he starts to self injure.

DS2 is so used to him screaming that he doesn't even look up when he starts.

nutcracker Sat 11-Sep-04 15:49:46

I have just spent the last 45 mins ignoring Dd2 as she screamed and screamed cos her sister has gone to a party.

She shut herself in the downstairs loo and just screamed her head off.
At first i tried to calm her down and reason with her, but she was having none of it so i gave up.

As soon as she realised i wasn't gonna pay her any attention, she stopped.

Hausfrau Sat 11-Sep-04 16:01:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

throckenholt Sat 11-Sep-04 16:09:22

I read another book recently that said you can try talking to them to aknowledge their feelings. Ie say that you can see he is really angry/frustrated whatever, state the reason you think is like that, and say itis fine to feel like that. However the problem is it is whatever time now, and we need to do (eat/sleep - whatever).

You can also try giving him some paper and tell him to draw how angry he feels, or maybe get him to show a teddy how he feels.

Not sure if it works - I am trying it with my 3 year old - sometimes it works - time out doesn't often - and he can also scream for 1/2 an hour over something.

Apparently it is also good to tell them how something makes you feel. Ie your screaming makes me feel very sad/angry and what it makes you feel like doing - eg screaming, leaving him on his own, smacking him (whatever).

JuniperDewdrop Sat 11-Sep-04 17:22:09

tips on calming tantrums

found this just now on nick jr of all places? whilst playing with DS2

prefernot Sat 11-Sep-04 20:12:26

custardo, I didn't read the thread you mentioned but my mum says that her sister was such a tantrummer that her mother resorted to chucking a cup of cold water over her when she started and it was so effective that their mother only had to get a cup and go to the sink for her to stop screaming!

Can't quite imagine doing it myself though, it seems pretty drastic, but you never know.

I've been reading a book called 'the emotional life of the toddler' which is quite theoretical but very interesting. The author says reasoning with a screaming child is pointless although reasoning on the brink of a screaming fit can work. Once they're off with the scream she suggests what other people here have said, warn once, then remove and ignore. She also said that for some kids if the parent acts very nonchalant about the screaming it works. She gives the case study of a woman with a boy who screamed and she'd sit directly in front of him with her hands over her ears and say 'I can't hear you now' and within 2 weeks he stopped. For the same type of 'reachable' kids she also suggests what someone said here, to speak to them in a whisper.

eldestgirl Sun 12-Sep-04 06:27:27

Thank you for all the advice. I definitely have been paying too much attention to his tantrums so I'm trying to transfer that attention to rewarding good behaviour. It feels as if it's going to be an uphill climb, but let's see!

Twiglett Sun 12-Sep-04 07:49:17

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WideWebWitch Sun 12-Sep-04 07:57:12

Here's the water jug thread, lots of other good tips on it too

eldestgirl Wed 15-Sep-04 12:51:52

Thanks so much for the waterjug tip. Conveniently DS1 started a screaming thing in the bath this evening, so fetched the water from the fridge (we live in SE Asia so tap water is always warm) and poured it over his head. He was so surprised! And has been incredibly co-operative this evening. Let's hope he keeps it up!

Blu Wed 15-Sep-04 13:05:54

Depending on the situation / cause I either scoop DS up very quickly and whisk him into a new environment - out the front door, into the garden, whatever, or simply ignore.

He doesn't do it much, though.

Personally wouldn't feel very happy with throwing water over a child.

agy Wed 22-Sep-04 10:30:28

I can't believe that "throwing jug of water over child" thread has come up again! I think its a dreadful idea. I thought so when it came up last year and I still think so. Its unkind to say the least. Would think a really upset child would need calming in a more comforting way.

aloha Wed 22-Sep-04 11:02:22

I am also coming out of the closet as someone who would never, ever throw water over my child. Ignoring works. Takes nerves of steel, but it does work.

Twiglett Wed 22-Sep-04 11:03:25

message withdrawn

aloha Wed 22-Sep-04 11:04:29

I also say, "I will talk to you when you talk to me properly", then ignore by just getting on with stuff as calmly as you can pretend to be . Blu's distraction/change of scene works too, esp if done before you let your child go to far down the upset route.

agy Wed 22-Sep-04 11:05:22


Twiglett Wed 22-Sep-04 11:05:49

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lou33 Wed 22-Sep-04 11:07:40

Couldn't bring my self to throw water either, well not at the kids anyway.

cori Wed 22-Sep-04 22:05:17

I heard a tip on the radio. Apparently pretend to ( or really do it ) video tape them. They get so embarresed that there tantrum is being recorded they stop.

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