My almost 3-year-old daughter screams most of the day. So much, that I am surprised that the neighbors have not come by to see if the children are alright. The reasons for the screaming varies: the dog sniffing a stuffed animal or a sibling touching her favorite toy, top the list. Anne doesn't discriminate. She will let loose a blood curdling scream in any situation.
People who know my family say she is going through a phase. People who don't know us make comments like,
"Is your daughter okay?" or "She's probably sick/tired/hungry."
All I can respond with is,
"Nothing is wrong, Anne screams ALL day."
When she was born, Anne came to the world crying like most babies, but with an intensity that caused the nurses to comment, "Oh my, we have never heard a baby cry that hard and long before!"
It has to be exhausting, right? Having emotional breakdowns all day? Not only the energy that it sucks out of me and my husband, but her own energy.
I love my daughter endlessly and when she is in a good mood, she is a joy to be around. Her singing and laughing and story telling is almost like sitting in a spa, taking in the calm vibrations of complete serenity.
And in an instant-AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
I am working on teaching her how to communicate more effectively by saying, "You don't need to scream, Anne, tell me what you want with words."
You might be saying, "Maybe this child doesn't have the vocabulary or ability to translate her feelings." But alas, this 27 pound peanut is extremely articulate, she just chooses to explode into a screaming mess when faced with problem solving or confrontation.
Something has to change, I know that. Any advice from you seasoned parents? I know you are out there somewhere!
Here is what we have tried:
- Ignoring-Little Anne is in it for the long haul when she has a meltdown and increases the volume and intensity with each minute I turn a blind eye to her fits.
- Reasoning-This type of approach completely backfires with my children. I have learned they need one answer. Period. There is no more explaining why we need to have milk instead of soda with dinner. We recently established two house rules: Listen to Mama and Daddy the First Time and No Arguing.
- Sitting on the Step-This is my version of a time out. After I have told Anne "no" and she argues (usually in a stream of over-the-top howls), she sits on the step for a period of time. Again, Anne takes each second of the "time out" to work her vocal chords.
I wish there was some sort of hat I could wear or maybe even a tattoo that labels me as a parent who is trying really hard to get her child to communicate in way that does not involve breaking down emotionally in every situation. When I am in public, the branding would allow me to spot other parents in my club who are dealing with or have dealt with the same situation. We can give each other a smile and a nod to signal that we are there for each other.
Unfortunately, that support group does not exist.
I figure there has to be some people out there who can see it on my face. The desperation and exhaustion of trying to diffuse this tiny, blonde headed, screaming bomb. I keep telling myself, "This too shall pass, right?" Her intensity is a good thing, a trait that will be admired when she is an adult. She is tenacious and determined. Independent!
All of the terms I just listed are positive and I need to see all of Anne's characteristics as a solid foundation to becoming a functional and successful adult. But in the midst of all that screaming, I sometimes find it impossible to see the good in her overly robust meltdowns.