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When the child screams ...

When the child screams ...


Many parents, grandparents and educators ask for help when dealing with a screaming child. It is true that the feeling of anger and helplessness is great in front of a child who screams, crosses the floor, and for which no explanation is worth two dollars ...

Here is a situation that we intend to discuss today, thus hoping to identify some of the causes that lead to these behaviors and an appropriate mode of reaction from adults.

Of course you have many examples and experiences with children who at 2, 3 or even 5 years old are protesting by screaming, crawling on the floor, hitting or hitting themselves, throwing objects, refusing whatever is proposed to them, being able to cry and scream for half an hour until they lose their breath.

Usually adults try to calm them down, to please them, to somehow get them out of the crisis by either distracting them or giving them something they like.

However, although sometimes the child is quiet, he will not abandon this mode of manifestation, but will resume it on other occasions. Until parents or educators say that "every time something is inappropriate or is denied, such a crisis begins."

What to do in this situation?

It is the question they desperately ask, seeing that this behavior does not go away, and even becomes more frequent. Of course, there is no recipe to calm the child and the option of not rejecting it is not good because, thus, the child will never be able to tolerate frustration.

He will remain with this way of expressing anger and this will cause him to be excluded from the group of children or to ruin his relations with others.

If we talk about how the child reacts in the face of frustration, when he is not given what he asks for, when he is taken out of the park, when he is quarreling about hitting another child or getting his hands on something dangerous, then we will have to teach him to accept frustration, to learn to postpone the fulfillment of his desire or to express his experiences in another way (anger, sadness, regret, fear, despair, nervousness). For the child who does not yet speak, the mother is usually the one who puts into words his experiences.

She tells him that he is sad, nervous, upset, that he would like to ... but not now, but later, he tries to comfort him, to find an occupation that will make his expectation easier, to give him provide temporal cues to delay the realization of the desire.

"We go home, eat, make kids and when we wake up, we go to the park," the mothers say. Then the children learn this way of succession of the different activities and they say "after this night", "after going to the kindergarten 3 times" etc.

Around the age of 3-4 years they manage to master temporal cues such as yesterday, today, tomorrow, evening, over 3 hours, next week, in summer when we go to sea, etc.

But coming back to screams and attacks of anger, we try to look for their causes. Most of the time, the children manage to transmit their condition to the adult so that if the mother says "she can no longer", "she comes to scream", "she feels completely helpless", "she feels drowning in anger", they are also the experiences of her child.

Few adults remember their childhood experiences and prefer to live with the idea that little ones have no reason to get upset or even have the right to do so. However, we know that the experiences of the child are as intense as those of adults and that little ones feel like new sadness, grief, despair, suffering, impatience, anger, anger, joy, enthusiasm, confusion, disorientation, etc.

The list would be very long and it is important to identify these states with our child and to name them so that he knows what is going on with him and later he can talk about them.

Most of the time, the cause is a conflict that the child feels and does not know how to get out. He wants something and cannot realize it because he does not come out or because someone from the outside does not let him.

He cannot or does not know to ask for help, does not know how to express his wish, is not heard by the adult or is ignored and then his experiences exceed a limit beyond which he can no longer "master".

He would like to "say" something he does not know how to express or the pressure inside is as great as the outside. Under these conditions, screaming and aggression appear, self-aggression as a way to punish themselves for the lack of a solution.

Another important point in managing an anger crisis with screaming and walking on the floor is to give the child the opportunity to calm down and find a way to calm themselves.

Adults who try countless methods, interventions, offer the child a little something, alternate consoles with threats, hit him, then kiss him only succeed to disorient him even more. Some of them prefer to search for a child rather than to understand what is going on with it.

This method of reward and punishment is overused at the expense of trying to put ourselves in his place, to feel what the child feels, to talk to him about what happened.

Anca Munteanu
Psychologist - Child psychology
Center of Action Psychology and Psychotherapy