Q&A: Why is my 22-month-old screaming all of a sudden?
My son is 22 months old and is speaking about 20 words on and off. He's been seen by his doctor and I'm told that he is developmentally fine for his age.
Recently he has started this high pitched screaming. He does it when he is aggravated, frustrated, or anytime he feels like it. It is VERY high and very hard to ignore. My question is, how long does this typically last, is there anything I can do to stop it, and how do I get through this?
I have tried ignoring it, time-outs, whispering to show him he doesn't have to scream, I have even tapped him on the mouth as he's doing it. Nothing works, in fact time out makes it worse and ignoring it makes him louder.
Any thoughts or suggestions on this would be GREATLY appreciated. I know I'm not alone in this but it feels that way. I'm at my wits end and have tried many different things with no progress at all!
The second year of life—the real “terrible twos”—bring an explosion of development, but often periods of intense frustration as well. It is possible that the screaming episodes come from a toddler who wants to do and communicate more than he can. In which case, as the development comes, both in language and physical skills, the frustration will settle down.
In the meantime, your best strategy is to model better behavior, by using the words he needs to express what he’s feeling, and to ignore the tantrum. The priciple is that any behavior that gets your attention in any way (negative or positive) will be reinforced. Yes, ignoring him will make him more frustrated at first, but eventually he will learn that the screaming doesn’t get him what he wants.
You don’t need to be right there experiencing it, either. You can pick him up and place him in a safe, quiet place, and take a few minute “time-out” for yourself. Usually, the unwanted behavior stops, or lessens, in a few weeks.
Although children do vary in when and how they gain language skills, most toddlers, by their second birthdays, have vocabularies of 50 words and are beginning to combine them in short phrases. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your son may have a delay, but if the language doesn’t come at a steady pace or if his screaming isn’t responding to your efforts, I would recommend a thorough developmental evaluation around his second birthday.