Is your young child an habitual screamer? We’re not talking about the cries of a tired, wet or hungry child, or of a child who has an upset digestive system or is feeling unwell in some respect. We’re talking about a blood curdling scream that the child turns off instantly the moment he/she gets what he/she wants.
Some parents have conditioned their young child to think that a level 10 scream is the way to deal with frustrations in his life, by giving in to the screams. The good news is that this habit can be changed by consistently upholding boundaries with firmness. Otherwise, a child who was accustomed to willfully screaming to get his way in everything is headed down a path that could get him into trouble as a teenager – even with the law.
Allowing a child to turn on an intense screaming fit until he gets what he wants will never work in real life once he’s an adult. Neither will it work in a classroom setting, where the world does not revolve solely around him. Childhood is when we learn to fit into society – when we learn that sometimes we must do things that aren’t exactly what we want. Mommy and Daddy have to pay bills and go to work, and they have to do x y and z. Period. End of story – no matter how much they might scream to get out of it. If the scream never yields results, the child will eventually stop trying it. He turns it on because it is effective.
Robert E. Lee, when asked by a mother how to raise a child to greatness, said “Teach him to deny himself.” Satan – the enemy of our souls – has just one commandment: “Do what you want.” That is his formula for defeat and failure. If a behavior won’t look good on a 16-year-old, don’t allow it on a two-year-old. If you don’t get on top of being the leaders in your household it’s going to be run by monsters. YOU are the parents. Parents who drop their requirement when the child raises an objection are adults who are ruled by an infant. Such a child is running the home, and nobody is happy that he is allowed to do so. You will see the sullenness in his (or her) face.
Children (and dogs – watch Cesar Milan’s dog training tv show on YouTube !) need rules, boundaries, and limitations in order to feel secure that someone else is a stronger leader than they are. Young children’s brains are not fully developed. They cannot possibly understand why what you ask them to do is better for them than what they want to do. When they have a strong leader in the picture, it is then that you see the clear countenances shine forth when they have structure in place. Then when they are teens you can let up the structure. Our culture does the opposite: parents let their toddlers’ temper tantrums in the grocery store dictate what they buy. Later, when the toddler has grown into a teenager, parents crack down because now whatever the child wants to do is downright illegal and gets the police involved. And we wonder why children rebel as teens. It should be the other way around (laying down the law in the formative years, and then giving grace in the maturing years at home); then there doesn't need to be a teenage rebellion stage.
If you are in this situation with a child, I would recommend you read the little book, Temper Your Child’s Tantrums by James Dobson so you can get the reins back to running your household. If you’ve been to a homeschool convention you are likely to have seen families of 5, 8, and 12 children. Most likely, the children were happily and calmly in tow, behaving well throughout a conference of workshops that were above their heads – because they were not in charge. Their parents said what they meant and they meant what they said. The parents followed their words around; no threats, just immediate action because behavior has consequences. Intention in the voice and a firm look show that mom and dad are in charge.
Give your children the gift of not getting down on a peer debate level to train them with what is an acceptable way to behave. Pull rank and don your authority and they will reap the rewards throughout life of your noble sure leadership. And you will enjoy your children and they will become your lifelong friends.
For further reading on this topic from Homeschool How-Tos, read our practical little book, Beyond Discipline: Train your child’s character.