The Case of The Shrieker

Alright, imaginary friends. I need some help raising my children again. Here is the case:


THE ACCUSED: Gracie “The Shrieker” Brown

AGE: Almost 16 months

CRIME: The Shrieker is hereby accused of shrieking relentlessly when she does not get her way. Shrieking may occur over a large issue, such as bedtime, but may just as likely occur (at the same volume and with the same intensity) over a blueberry rolling off her plate. From what evidence has been collected, shrieking generally occurs at the same blood-curdling volume in any location, for an extended period of time. Also, shrieking is not limited to high-pitched traditional outbursts. These fits may also be accompanied by crying, whining, foot stomping, and full-on temper tantrums.


EXHIBIT A: This week The Shrieker’s mother was folding laundry on the living room coffee table. The Shrieker appeared suddenly and pulled one pair of Lightning McQueen underwear off of the folded pile.

The mother firmly said, “Not for Gracie,” and put the underwear back on the pile. The Shrieker wasted no time in picking up the same pair of underwear from the pile again. The mother once again stated, “No, not for Gracie,” and then redirected the accused to an appropriate toy she could play with. The Shrieker wandered back over to the laundry table, stood there for a minute contemplating her actions before looking straight at the mother figure and then pushing the entire pile of underwear onto the floor. The mother firmly stated for the third time, “Not for Gracie,” but before she could even lean over to take The Shrieker by her hand and lead her away, The Shrieker let out her high pitched, infamous shriek and with one swipe of her hand, she threw all the piles of folded laundry on the floor.

EXHIBIT B: The Shrieker’s brother handed the accused one of his toys to play with. The Shrieker was dissatisfied with this toy. Shrieking at ear splitting volume commenced for the following ONE HOUR PERIOD without ceasing.

THE VICTIM(S): The Shrieker’s parents, brother, dogs, restaurant patrons, grocery store shoppers, playground visitors, and church nursery attendants.


a) Victims have tried ignoring the shrieking and The Shrieker until the behavior stops. Problems arouse, however, when The Shrieker chose NOT to stop for hours (seriously – HOURS). Also, this behavior became difficult to ignore in public facilities and The Shrieker’s family began to stop going out places altogether, which is an unacceptable solution given their active lifestyle.

b) Victims read, “The Happiest Toddler on the Block,” which promoted a theory called “toddler-ese.” Essentially, this book proposed that the victims pitch a louder fit than The Shrieker to get her attention, and then use a certain toddler language to communicate with the accused. This theory sounds wonderful and the victims were all on board, until they actually had to pitch the temper tantrum, whereby both primary victims fell into fits of giggles and the male victim announced, “Nope! Not doing that again!”

c) Victims have drafted an advertisement on Craigslist to give away The Shrieker. However, The Shrieker’s grandparents intervened and said advertisement has since been terminated.

There you have it, friends. The case has been laid before you. Now tell me, what do I do!??! Are there books I should be reading? Websites I should be visiting? Techniques I should be trying? Support groups I should be attending? Is this a girl thing? A second child thing? A parenting issue? A personality trait (…Lord help us)? Bean Man was a pretty easy baby and toddler to raise, so we just don’t know how to handle our shrieker. She is causing the whole family a lot of stress and we’re missing out on some fun things because she can’t get her act together.


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52 Thoughts to “The Case of The Shrieker”

  1. Melissa

    Not having a child of my own yet…:) I will pass on some advice from my Mom. My brother, her third child, was very strong willed and she said this book saved her!
    Good luck! She still is so cute!

  2. I am sorry. I am the parent of a strong willed child and he started really early also. He is 4 now and his last tantrum was yesterday. Every time I think we are about done he will start again. I wish I could give you advise. He is getting better but for a long time I could not bring him out in public. Thankfully now he is easier to talk to (slightly). I keep calm and firmly state what is going to happen if he continues with his screaming stomping behaviour. I think the only reason he is much better now is because of his Dad. I am just not firm enough. I do have the award for the worst toddler tantrum my friend had ever seen. So I guess that is something. I keep telling myself that when he is an adult this will be a really good quality (the strong will, not the tantrums). Thankfully I have blocked out the really early phase! I hope someone answers that is actually helpful!

  3. Michelle U.

    Hello sweet Katie! Well, congrats- Daisy (my almost 18 month old) and Gracie should be BFFs and are hitting their developmental milestones right on cue- ha! Daisy does the EXACT same thing. I can relate to the throwing all the piles of laundry on the floor- Daisy would do that too. She also gets really mad and hits. It’s just lovely for big brother. I really don’t have an answer for you except that with Daisy, we just redirect and I say things like “Use your words” and make her say things like no or yes- or my turn please. We do the basics of sign- but that really doesn’t help much in the middle of a fit. I remember Henry (3 years old now) did the same thing at 18 months and I wanted to trade him in. It was MISERABLE. I remember it got better for him around 2.5. I am praying Daisy (and Gracie) don’t stay in this stage long. It’s a hard one!!! Hang in there- thinking about you!!!

  4. I have heard really good things about the Strong willed child also, I bought it. I really should read that…

  5. Meredith

    Katie, is she really speaking yet? My sister’s 2nd was a terror as it appears Gracie is. We finally came to the realization that she was struggling with wanting to say the words but being too young to form and say them. From the laundry dispute it doesn’t appear as if you talked to gracie as opposed to just saying “no” ? Maybe next time see if you can diffuse her before mega meltdown by getting down to her level and asking her what she needs. Give her choices verbally and or visually to help her find the power in words rather than shrieks. No matter what though momma you are doing a great job.

  6. Becky

    Ah, yes. My daughter (now 22 months) does the same thing. It’s pretty awful when it happens, but thankfully it’s going away slowly. And yes, she can shriek for hours. I think the current record is 3. (Also called “why we gave up on crying it out as a sleep method” – TWO WEEKS OF 2+ HOURS OF SCREAMING AT NIGHT)

    Our tactic was simply to tell her that she has to use her words and tell us in English what is wrong. If she can’t calm down, we remove her from the situation (ie put her in her pack and play) and tell her that once she is calm she can get out.

    The first few times were rough, but now we’ve gotten into a groove. I stay in the room with her when she’s flipping out, but I play with my phone and just tell her to “Get calm and tell us what is wrong with your words.”

    We’re down to about 10 minutes or so about once every other day right now.

  7. Candice

    You’re doing a great job. It’s probably a bump in the road as she learns to express herself AND understand that YOU understand what she wants, but are telling her she cannot have/do that. Also, it is probably also just her personality!

    I can’t tell you the last time I took my son out to eat because while he’s a generally happy kid, he HATES sitting and sitting still so anywhere we go has to be somewhere that he can run around. Needless to say, we don’t go out to eat much but I also know this won’t be forever.

  8. Sarah

    I’m really sorry that you’re all going through this but as a childless reader I have to thank you for one of the best belly laughs I’ve had in awhile reading and imagining some of these scenes.

  9. Michelle

    I did receive one piece of advice recently from a Child Developmental Behavioral Psychologist (whew- quite a title). She was giving me advice on my 3 yo’s tantrums. She said the main principle of behavioral theory parenting is this: whatever behavior you bring the most attention to (good or bad) is the behavior that will be reinforced. So she recommended that with Henry’s tantrums, try to get him out of the tantrum before it gets to unbearable stage (ie- take out as many factors that upset the child). And then work with him to reinforce the good behavior. For example, Henry usually wakes up in a horrible mood from nap. I need to catch the nap times when he is really happy and say things like “wow- you are really happy right now and that is great!” and build it up (you know this- you are a freakin’ teacher!!!). She said that this really works after a while and to work on decreasing the amount of tantrums thus making the child more indept/able to cope with emotional stress. Also, keep a log of tantrums and see if a pattern develops. She recommended this site too: It’s done by a colleague of her’s and she says it has great advice for parents of toddlers. Good luck!

  10. I love the way you used your early lawyer skills to properly lay out the case. Now, I don’t have kids so my advice is probably useless. If one of my nieces or nephews acted that way I would put them in their crib with something to distract them (eventually), close the door and let them scream it out until they realized it was getting them nowhere and lost interest or fell asleep. If it goes on for hours I might take them a bottle at some point. I know that’s easier said than done but if you have a camera monitor then you could make sure she was ok without having to show your face and get her all worked up again. Call me old fashion, but I’m also down for a good spanking, but I completely respect that not everyone is. Good luck!

  11. I have 2 strong willed boys that I am still trying to figure out… I have the strong willed child by dr. Dobson- it didn’t really help me- maybe I missed something in there- maybe I should re-read it because I have heard lots of good things too!! I agree with the talking theory- maybe some frustrations over not being able to express herself like she wants… I’m getting ready to buy the parenting collection by dr. Dobson- its 3 books total. Strong willed child is part of it and 2 others also. I’ll be praying for u. It’s sooo very frustrating!!!

  12. Elisabeth A.

    I had (and still do) have a very strong willed almost 3 year old. There are 2 books that really helped me, both came recommended by my therapist – Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm by Beth A. Grosshans and Redirecting Children’s Behavior by Kathryn J. Kvols. Good luck!

  13. This…terrifies…me. I think we’re on our way in to this at 14 months. Eagerly reading all the comments!

  14. Though I know this is no help at all, I find that picture of Gracie hilarious. I may actually want that one to frame in my house to make life a little more real. Also, I know we’ve talked about this in ‘real life’ but I’d suggest the “Toddler-Wise” book in the “Baby Wise” series. We’ve only read the first one but love the philosophy behind their methods so it may be worth a read. (And then let me know so I can use it one day…)

  15. I was blessed beyond words to have seven amazing autism therapists with us since Nate was 18 months of age, including a behavior analyst. All of them hold the same principles for managing situations like these – and key to them all is consistency. First, if Gracie’s throwing a tantrum and she’s not in danger of hurting herself or others, ignore it. And I mean – ignore it. Don’t talk about her in the third person, don’t talk about her in the first person, don’t look her way, don’t intervene (unless she’s in danger), etc. And when she calms (even for a break), reinforce that calm with positive praise. If it starts up again, ignore it again and keep looking for the moments to praise the good behavior and ignore the bad. Second, since re-direction isn’t working, in the room where she’s tantruming, you could do a fun activity that Gracie would like by yourself. She might decide that what you’re doing is more interesting than what she’s doing – and if she joins you, praise her interest and reinforce that it’s an activity that can only be done while calm. If she throws the pile of underoos on the floor, it’s her job to clean up the mess. When Nate was 18 months, we did hand-over-hand cleaning up and he was responsible for three or four things (not all 20 spilled items) but as he got older, he was responsible for cleaning up things in their entirety. Now at three, he instinctively cleans things up and knows it’s not ok to throw things in a fit of passion. Also, when she’s *not* tantruming and is having a good day or a series of great moments, praise her often during this time. Tell her how lovely or helpful she’s being — and why. Over and over again. Kids like praise and they seek it. In public settings though, I am (as were Nate’s therapists) complete advocates of bribery to get out of there fast – a fruit snack or something that will keep Nate’s mouth entertained while I try to exit gracefully is always stashed in my purse. 🙂 Good luck – I’ll toast you with my glass of wine tonight.

  16. Deepa

    I KNOW it seems so silly, but the Happiest Toddler on the Block method really works. Once they realize you “get it” they do stop crying. I swear. You don’t even need to throw a tantrum, just be loud and firm and they will look up with a “holy sh*t, they actually get why I am upset!” look and things go from there. We used it when Rohan was 18 months and tantrums just stopped, and are using a variation of it now that he is 3 (and has a new brother is is getting VERY whiny). Yes, it can get you some looks in the grocery store, but it works. I swear. I am a walking advert for this book. Good luck!

  17. Rebecca

    Have you tried throwing yourself on the floor and Shrieking along side her for a fue minutes? Sometimes when I do something unexpected my kids stop to watch me. Then I’ll walk away. And leave them with a surprised look on their faces.
    Hey! Why not try? Can’t hurt.

  18. Tracy B

    We went through this to some extend with both of our boys. The answer for us (and who knows if it will work for your shrieker) was to immediately remove the child from whatever situation in which the shrieking occurs. If they went into shriek mode at home – they immediately went to their bed (a safe environment – tall sides up on crib, etc…) with the door closed and we did not go in until the shrieking stopped. I will admit that this sometimes lasted for a while but if you can hear them (or perhaps even see them on a baby monitor) and you know they cannot get out of the crib then you know that they are safe. If they shrieked in public, they immediately went to the car and were strapped into their car seat until the shrieking stopped. You or your dear husband will have to stay in the car with her of course, and might seriously want to think about investing in a set of ear plugs! The key was they could not move around – strapped in car seat or dare I say, “caged” in a bed – so they quickly got the message that the shrieking led to less than desirable consequences. The key is they had to be completely ignored for the entire duration of the screaming. It’s TOUGH and some might say mean, but it worked for us. Good luck.

  19. paula

    My 5 year old daughter is strong-willed. She almost got thrown out of an at home daycare because of her screaming and “passion” for life. She definitly struggled with wanting to communicate but not being developmentally there yet. As she got older and could talk more it helped a lot. I would have done baby sign language if the daycare worker had been on board. I also second the reinforcing the positive method. And last of all, fill her tantrum tank with more good one- on-one attention as this may lessen her need to grab your attention the bad way. ****Please understand that I am NOT saying you are not already giving her good one-on-one attention. I am just suggesting to ramp it up one notch if at all possible until you can see more glimpses of calm behavior from her. Best of luck!!! It will get better – I promise! 🙂

  20. Jenna

    OH MY WORD! We have been dealing with this same exact thing!! He has been shrieking because he can not crawl with a ball in one hand. Seriously kid. You are 15 months old.. learn to walk and this will no longer be an issue. But. stop. shrieking.

  21. Kat

    I do not claim to know a certain thing and our child is not a shrieker, although she’s been known to hold her own in the screaming/crying/omg-kill-me-now-tantrum department. Anywho… here’s my advice, maybe it’ll help:
    Have you tried to politely tell her that she can go in her room/separated space from you until she is finished pitching a fit and then to come out/check on her/get her when she is calmed down? I noticed a lot of times that P will throw a fit for us to witness and when I walk out of the room she will get all confused and either try to follow me to show me how upset she is, or move on to another activity.

    ps- I am NOT suggesting that you leave your child unattended for oodles of time. We have a gated off area that we put P into when it’s “timeout” time or omg-my-head-hurts-stop-screaming time and it’s totally visible for us, although out of direct sight and she’s usually calmed down. We also have a video monitor in her room where we sometimes let her hang out for 5-10 minutes at a time.

    I hope that you get through this stage! Gracie sounds like a very strong, opinionated I-get-what-I-want lady. It’ll serve her super well in the future…if she can survive toddler years.

  22. Nikki

    I have no idea how to solve this… I’m useful, I know. I’m pregnant with my first, and trust me, I’m taking notes! All of the books that were mentioned are now saved in my Amazon accountant for future reference. We are two strong willed people- so I can only imagine what’s going to be in store for us!

  23. Leah

    Well it’s not a 2nd child thing since my first is doing it. Even worse is that she is all about momma right now. So essentially that means she shreiks when daddy takes her or I can’t pick her up. At nearly 7 months pregnant it’s all exhausting. Going back to read the comments that will hopefully help me too but wanted to let you know you’re not alone!

  24. Bonnie

    My niece (2 years old) is prone to fits of shrieking for no apparent reason. When she is at home, she is told she is more than welcome to continue her tantrum in her bedroom but it is not permitted in the living room. When they first started this, someone would escort her to her room and close the door. Once she stopped fussing someone would go and get her from her room. Now that she is more independent and able to open doors on her own, she is just told to take it to her room. She comes out when she has calmed down. The fits have gotten shorter and shorter using this method.

  25. I am currently reading the book You Can’t Make Me by Cynthia Tobias, and so far, it’s really good. I would check it out! 🙂

  26. Alex

    I agree with immediately but non-dramatically placing her in her crib (or carseat if you’re out). Don’t show any emotion, just calmly scoop her up and place her in her crib to calm down. With her strong will, it might take a while for her to relax, but she should get lots of praise once she does. This age, like 15-18 months, is a huge developmental leap, but I remember my older son’s language skills really exploding at 18 months as this leap ended, so hopefully that’s coming for her soon and she won’t be as frustrated! It also helped us to practice “inside voice” and “outside voice” when my son and I were just playing normally and he wasn’t yelling. After labeling voices that way for a while, he understood what they meant and I could prevent an oncoming yell by reminding him to use his inside voice.

    Aunt Ginny (and Katie too of course, if you’re interested) – Have you ever read It’s written by a lady named Valerie and she is an invaluable resource for -wise parenting help. She’s having like a readers’ success week right now, but you can find what she’s written about all kinds of topics listed down the right side of her page. I think I read her whole site while my now 2-year-old was a baby! Anyway, she’s been a big help to me so I wanted to throw that out there!

  27. Dorice

    If it makes you feel any better, my now almost 21 year old son, was the ultimate pitch-a-fit, tantrum thrower of all time. I can remember sitting in the pediatricians office at 2 years old crying that I just couldn’t take it any longer. What ultimately worked for us was to remove him from the situation. The majority of his fits were at home, so I’d pick his little screaming self up and deposit him in his room and calmly tell him that when he was done and could be a good boy that he could come out. Sometimes he’d continue to throw the tantrum in there, but eventually he’d come out when it had passed. Mind you, this was probably between two and three years of age, not quite as young as your firecracker. Good luck.

  28. beth

    I am not a parent, nor do I pretend to know anything about parenting. In fact, I commend parents because I don’t think I can do it.
    However, in your very last line you said “strong willed” and it reminded me of a book I’ve heard about from friends who are parents. Dr. Dobson, a Christian author, wrote a book called “The Strong Willed Child”. Perhaps it might be helpful.
    Good luck!!

  29. Mostly, if he’s not going to hurt himself or destroy something, we ignore to the point that I get up and turn my back on him. That works like 50% of the time. If that’s a no go, I start doing what HTotB says and start throwing my own tantrum. I only do it at home but sometimes it does feel good to just scream it out. Normally that gets him to stop and look at me or he starts laughing. And if that doesn’t work, I put him in the spare bedroom (no toys to throw) and tell him he can come out when he’s done yelling. Dude, that’s all I got for ya. Well that and wine, I highly recommend wine for after she goes to bed.

  30. A few things Katie. I think it can definitely be more of a girl thing than a boy thing. My daughter was way more dramatic and prone to emotional outburts/fits than my son. Secondly, most ppl will say its a faze and to ignore, but don’t buy that as much as you want to! I’ve seen it from friends kids and they are nightmares as they get older. Here’s my advice, Super Nanny her little shrieking pahtooty! Seriously, the old JoJo one, not the new America Super Nanny. We follow Super Namny’s rules/tips from the time my daughter was a showier and it took a few weeks, but it whipped her little butt into shape. I’m pleased to say my little shrieked is now the most polite, well behaved, loving 8 1/2 year old. And it really only took a few weeks of hell, promise! Her tantrums at that age would happen with waaaay less frequency, but when they did if we followed the rules she’d immediately fall into line. Good luck!

  31. I LOVE your blog – b/c I have a 15 month old and we experience many of the same things! First off, I feel the same way about “Happiest Toddler” – I just can’t buy into how I’m supposed to talk to her. I may have missed this, but do you use any baby signs with Gracie? This doesn’t solve the issue, but cuts down on the fussing. I just blogged about this, but my daughter walks around signing “more and help” which is great b/c she isn’t fussing, but, if I can’t figure out what she wants more of or help with – we are just back to the tantrum! Best of luck:) Thanks for the comic relief!

  32. BFF Em-ly

    When Winston throws a fit, I get down to his level and remind him that if he doesn’t like my rules then he can move out, get a job, and support himself. But yeah, I mean, I guess he’s a cat so it’s a little different. Sorry, Kate. No help for ya in the baby department…

  33. Lissa

    Poor, Poor mommy….My first suggestion was to remove the shrieker’s battery pack 🙂 I would strongly caution against using the crib for any sort of time out. Sleeping areas should be kept for sleeping, aka, pleasant times only and not for punishment. Have you tried verbalizing a little bit after “not for gracie”…such as “I know you’re angry that you can’t play with xyz” , “I know it’s hard to be little” etc. When her language skills are better, these outbursts will improve–or at least have words 🙂 It gets better.

  34. Braeden was VERY much in this stage! Ignoring it, HA so did not do anything as he could care less. Time out in a chair, YA RIGHT he could care less, giving him an alternative only meant a shrieking episode was bound to follow. Finally I did the take him to his room and tell him we do not yell when you are through you can come out. I no kidding did this one day and I swear he was in his room almost the entire day. I would let him out when the fit was over or often he would chill out on his own and start playing. But any sign of that shriek he was in there. Within 1 day it changed, the next day he tested me and would shriek when mad only and same thing in his room he went. Here we are now and he does it minimally and only when mad like he is yelling at us or does not have another way to communicate his frustration. It has worked great I agree consistency is the key and they will test you. I actually blogged about it the other day!

  35. Amanda E.

    My son did the same thing for months. One day when I was totally fed up I put him in his room and told him he could come out when he stopped screaming (he has a child-proof door knob cover on the inside of his door so he can’t open it himself). He must have stayed in there screaming for over an hour. As soon as he stopped I let him out. From that point on sending him to his room was his new punishment and it worked to curb the screaming. It only took about 2 weeks for his fits to disappear (except for when he is super upset about something). Good luck!

  36. Beanie & Gracie's Nana

    All good advice. Especially like the advice from Nate’s Mom and Nate’s therapist. Now I know I’m going to show my age here, but the fundamental rule of our home was that our babies were coming into our world – not the other way around. Therefore, from a very early age we gave them plenty of room to experiment, learn and grow – but they couldn’t make us all miserable in the meantime. We set parameters for behavior, even for you and Ginny as toddlers – and stepping beyond those lenient boundaries resulted in consequences. Hitting, biting, defiance, shrieking, temper tantrums all resulted in a warning and then a second time meant you went to your room or crib until you were ready to join the family again. You may not have always been able to control your emotions, but you learned pretty quickly what the consequences would be EVERY TIME – and I think that shorten the time it took for you and your sister to learn what was acceptable and what would get you absolutely no where but by yourself.

  37. Heather in Nd

    I agree with Nate’s Mom and Michelle…. there is this method called the Nurtured Heart Approach ( I think the Positive Reinforcement is key and not rewarding their negative behavior!

    But, my boyfriend says use a squirt gun. That might work, too. 😉

  38. We do a “nose to the wall” time out. I put Anne Margaret in the corner and make her sit with her nose to the wall. We only do this for certain behaviors….hitting, kicking, biting, screaming and throwing are the main ones. The first week or so was annoying. She would turn and walk out of time out. I had to hold her head on the wall (gently) initially. Now she goes and stands there til we call her from it. We started this when she was a month or two older than Gracie but it has worked for us. Also, we have noticed that Anne Margaret screams around certain behaviors – if she is overly tired or fussy, if she doesnt get her way or if she is teething. The teething we can give her stuff for, the tired we put her down and the not getting her way we try to head that off before it gets to the shrieking level. It doesnt always work, but the nose to the wall corner is always there. Last week she had a time out in a restaurant and we just found a wall there and put her against it. She almost had one in Target last night. There are good walls everywhere! HA! Good luck and I am anxious to know what works!

  39. Good suggestions here. Communication – maybe try some sign language to give her ways to communicate (i never did this with my kids but you could try it), but also try to find out what she’s po’d about. She’s wanting your attention for some reason. With the method you already tried, maybe instead of throwing your own mock tantrum, you could video hers (cell phone?) and then play it back to her. A small clip 1 min or so should even help. It’s distracting to them. And you could play that thing over and over. Then she knows what she looks like, too. And finally, when my kids have gotten that way, I put them in their bed and close the door til they calm down. Sometimes it does take a loooong time. I don’t buy in to the philosphy that it makes their room and unhappy place where they go to be punished. I think it’s a place they go to find calm. Sometimes with my little guy, he just needs some quiet time and it works. But I agree with the person who said that if you focus on it, her bad behavior is paying off.

  40. Annemari

    Hi, my girl is 18 months and I know exactly what you are talking about. She did the same thing. It was so bad that I almost bought myself some earplugs, because I thought that my eardrums would be damaged from all the loud shrieking. She started doing it from age 1 to 17 months. So for the last month we did not have one shrieking incident, she still throws tantrums, but without that high-pitched shrieking. Good luck, we also did not go out for a while because of it. I can promise you it will blow over. O and I ignored it when she did it, turned my back on her.

  41. Vicky

    Great hilarious post! I think it’s just her own strong personality! My son started shrieking at the hospital when he was born and hasn’t stopped yet. We’re pretty much homebound these days. It will pass- you just have to wait about 16.5 years…:) Hang in there it’s just a phase, you’ll see!

  42. Jocelyn

    Hmm… hopefully our almost 15 month old doesn’t get to this, because I know all to well how a strong willed child can be a challenge. I was a strong willed child. As a former strong willed child who finally learned the art of compromise, not getting my way and not cutting my nose off to spite my face, it wasn’t until I was maybe 8 or so that I learned that. The fact of the matter is that for some children, ie. me, the ONLY way to quiet the tantrum was to give in. And sometimes that is okay. You don’t need to give in all the way, but sometimes just a little and indulging just a bit helps… She will eventually grow out of it

  43. Oh my. I know exactly what you are going through. BOTH of my girls (almost three and just over one) are what you might call “strong willed”. It’s so frustrating out in public when this stuff occurs because you don’t want to be rude and allow your child to shriek at will, but you also can’t just give in and let them have their way. Hope you get some relief soon and I’ll be stalking these comments for help, too!

  44. Judy

    Raising Your Spirited Child Rev Ed: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic [Paperback]
    Mary S Kurcinka (Author) This was my go-to book when my kids were growing up. They are now 22 and 25 and doing great. The qualities that made parenting a challenge are very beneficial to them as adults. I agree with ‘Nates mom @ Nate the great’.

  45. Oh honey. I feel you. I had a one of these that was a twin, and could get the other started. I stayed home a LOT! While there, I often put my hand over his mouth (in self defense) and he was SOMETIMES, not always, amused by my hand repeatedly shutting off the sound and then letting the sound out. Instead of AAAAAAAAAAAA it was more like AAA-AAAA-AAAA-AAAA-A-A-A—AAAAA. Depending on how often my hand came away from his mouth.
    She has just started the terrible two’s early. Most of them do. This too, will pass. Keep your chin up.

  46. I am saving this post. I have a strong-willed 12 mo old. And let me just say, my goodness. I am looking forward to reading all of these comments! If it helps to laugh, my sister-in-law said, “We want them to grow up to be strong-willed, independent thinkers with opinions – just not around us!”

  47. I got a shout out from Bean and Gracie’s Nana?!? That’s better than the Good Housekeeping Seal! 🙂

  48. Jen M

    i read an ariticle that if you do time out for said shrieking that you should have an “activity” to do in time out. Like put a puzzle together, or string 100 beads, etc. Nothing “fun” per se but just an activity that takes their mind of what they are upset about and doing something helps calm them down. I haven’t tried it so I can’t attest to its effectiveness.

  49. I have been most fortunate to produce 2 strong willed children. My first is now 4 years old (a boy) and remains my strongest will at this time, but his sister (almost 2) is winning in the shrieking department. Things I have not found helpful: reading books about strong-willed children (they seem to be useless in actually dealing with my specific problem/situation, but that is just me), shrieking louder than them (they stop for a minute and then get louder again), getting frustrated, ignoring them completely (sometimes works depending on the situation). Things I have found helpful: removing child from situation or room silently (that is, you are the silent one), closing doors to their room and letting them have an all out raging fit by themselves. It may or may not help right away or even make her stop her shrieking episodes, but at least you are showing her that is is not an acceptable response. I always go to my children and try to talk through what happened to cause the fit after they have got it completely out of their system. It can be exasperating and make you want to pull your hair out, but just know you aren’t alone (obviously by the extent of comments to this post). And be prepared if you don’t find the “remedy” for her shrieking. Some kids (especially stronger willed ones) continue this type of behavior whether you consistently punish for it or not.

  50. Becca

    Katie- L has the same, very intense display of emotions a lot of times. Although it can be VERY frustrating, I find it best to take a step back and remember this is just a matter of her trying to communicate. I’ve tried the “try to be louder than her method,” although primarily in speaking (not yelling, though) to her, but she’s just so loud, that it is typically unsuccessful. I usually just try to talk to her like a big kid and let her know I understand she is frustrated. I usually say, “L, you don’t need to be frustrated. If you stop crying (or shrieking) and use your words (when she was pre-verbal, I would tell her to show me), then Mommy can help you.” This has worked for us and she usually calms down right away. I then offer her some snuggles and then we tackle her problem together. Try to empower her with helping and/or knowledge to understand the “why.” In managing teenagers at the gym, I learned one of the biggest characeristics in today’s generation is the yearning to understand WHY something can or can’t be done. In the case of the blueberry: having her help to pick the blueberry up/letting her throw it away/discovering the other ones on the plate. In the case of the laundry: giving her a towel to have her help “fold.” I’ve also found that giving her an explaination of WHY the object she desires is not for her to play with (not necessarily in this instance, but there are certain things I describe by saying, “This is for Mommy. Where is L’s ___ [juice, baby, toy]?” Basically pointing out that she has the same thing as I do and empowering her to find it. Sometimes you just have to remember she wants to be just like you…can’t fault her for that!

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