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My ten months old daughter has been in a little nursery for a couple of months now. There, she has begun to act more wildly. It is something we expected and we like her getting in touch with other infants.

There is a little kid, a bit older than her, who shouts a lot. Long, very acute shouts that are quite unpleasant for everyone's ears.

Our daughter apparently liked those, so now she is shouting quite often. In the beginning I thought she was just playing with her voice, but now it is becoming more frequent and a bit annoying if we are in closed places with other, unrelated people.

I am trying to look at her seriously when she does and I shake my head saying "no". She kind of understands it, but after a while she starts over again.

So: is this normal? Is my approach going to work out? Is there anything else I can do?

  • 1
    We have some really good friends with kids our age (5yr, 3yr, and 5 months). Their 5 year old is quite smart, very verbal, but also quite loud :) Every time we hang out with them our 5 year old gets much louder and it takes my wife and I about 1 day of constantly reminding him that "he is shouting" while talking to us. After that day it goes back to normal. Your child is learning about life and how to act. I think it is NECESSARY for her to go through this and have you let her know that she should not be so loud. You should be happy, she is learning about life via you telling her no! – Jeff.Clark May 3 '16 at 16:11
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    By shout, do you mean, "scream", "yell", or "talk loudly"? In my experience (five children), kids have a hard time regulating how loud they are when they talk. – sbell May 4 '16 at 17:51
  • @sbell it is kind of "scream": short, acute sounds. She does not talk yet (only 10 months old), but when she tries to, she uses a very soft tone. It is these "screams" that are quite high in volume. – fedorqui May 5 '16 at 5:55
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This is absolutely normal - she has discovered a new toy: her voice.

At this age she doesn't really know anything about the effect loud shouts can have on others. And even when you ask her to stop, that is only a short term thing.

But this will come with time - I'd suggest keeping on doing as you are now. If you make too big a thing of it, sometimes children will enjoy the extra attention you give them when telling them off, and this can encourage them to do it more!

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    Uhms, interesting. So this is just a step in her learning that will get "done" once she is kind of happy with her voice and goes ahead with other stuff? I was a bit afraid of the "mimic" behaviour after another children's actions. – fedorqui May 3 '16 at 10:47
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    Mimicking is key to learning for quite some time yet. Yes, she will copy others (just you wait till she is a teenager!) but it won't just be that one noisy child, don't worry :-) – Rory Alsop May 3 '16 at 10:48
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    She's going to be mimicking YOU GUYS. All the bad traits you two pretend you don't have, she'll pick them all up and throw them back at you... time to start eating humble pie early if you don't want extra ammunition for your teen :D – Nelson May 4 '16 at 3:13
  • My daughters did this, but the absolute worst was their cousin, who was right between them in age. This girl had lungs that would make Idina Menzel look like she had asthma, and for like a year straight she had exactly one sound - a death shrill. Thankfully, she eventually traded it in for the normal toddler-girl-voice... #itgetsbetter – corsiKa May 4 '16 at 15:49
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There is something you can do. Instead of only reacting with the "serious" look and "no", sometimes mimic her back! At times when it is least disturbing to others. It might be engaging and fun. And she might learn something even more, like when the shouting is more appropriate and fun, and when it ought to be toned down. Additional benefit: meaningful (to her) interaction/communication with parent.

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We used to call one of my nephews The Pterodactyl Child, until we nipped that bud:

Inside voice, please.

(yes, even if sometimes we are outside)

I only have one niece, so I may be off-base, but IME (and my mother's, who holds a masters degree in special education) females develop sooner and begin the "terrible twos" at around that age. Good luck :)

  • So you developed a special "code phrase" to communicate to your nephew that he is getting too loud? That is a nifty trick. – sleske May 4 '16 at 7:06
  • @Xen2050 I think it means "in my experience". – fedorqui May 4 '16 at 8:44
  • @fedorqui Thanks, I'll del my previous comment. Little out of place to use it in that sentence ("I have virtually no experience, but in my experience...") – Xen2050 May 4 '16 at 9:13
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    This method has been very effective for our son - it took a little bit of being consistent with it, but now he understands it means the situation is not appropriate for being loud, and can even understand if we tell him we need to use our "quiet inside voice" in situations where it is customary to whisper. Something I think has been important is we always tell him at the volume we want from him, and he always seems to match. – Emerson May 4 '16 at 12:02
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Children that age learn new things everyday, some good some bad. Trust me it is only a phase and will pass soon.

What you can do meanwhile is not give her extra attention when she shouts i.e. don't tell her it is bad or to stop, simply try to distract her with a toy she likes or a book or whatever else she likes.

UPDATE: All the people advising a 'firm hand'... please, we are talking about a 10 month old baby which does not know right from wrong, I have a daughter of 15 months and I say from recent experience that this shouting phase comes and goes, I am not saying that re-enforce this behaviour by bending to the baby's (childish :) ) demands but try and distract the baby. Certainly don't distract the baby with chocolates or movies, but maybe by making an animal sound yourself or by showing a book of animals (my daughter loves animal books) for kids. Don't be harsh to a ten month old baby please, you don't want your baby to turn up a shy/under-confident/easily frightened adult.

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    It is only a phase if it is corrected. If not.....*shudder* – Jeff.Clark May 3 '16 at 16:15
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    My sister in law has two horrible kids, now 7 and 9 who still throw fits and tantrums when things don't work out. They will lock themselves in the bathroom and completely destroy it. To get them to "settle down", they get a bowl of chocolates and their favorite movie put on as a distraction while the cleaning commences by the adults. If you give the kid something other than a firm hand when it acts like a turd, you are just positively reinforcing that behavior. I've seen it. "When I freak out, I get my favorite book/teddy/mom's ipad. That must be how life works. Yay me!" – coblr May 3 '16 at 20:19
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    Take them on a tour of a prison. (Won't work for infants though.) – user17408 May 3 '16 at 22:29
  • While I agree that it is probably only a phase and will pass, clearly showing boundaries is important. If the shouting bothers you (or others), you should not just ignore it. – sleske May 4 '16 at 7:04
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My answer works on excited adults too: speak very softly to her and she'll speak softly too. Kids learn by mimicry.

As soon as she's old enough to understand you can add; "the people over there don't want to hear that" or (my favourite) "that baby over there wants to sleep, please don't be so loud".

  • Interesting, many thanks! But on a 10 months old baby, can you track how much of this do they understand? – fedorqui May 4 '16 at 13:23
  • At that age they're not dumb, just speechless. They have so much to tell you and no words. Try out being quiet yourselves and see if it works. – RedSonja May 4 '16 at 13:29
  • Yes. Problem is that she spends some hours with that "screaming child", whose behaviour is something she may also follow. So it is difficult to counter balance that. – fedorqui May 4 '16 at 13:31
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    Let's hope the parents of the other child read SE too. ;-) – RedSonja May 4 '16 at 13:33
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Say OW. She's probably hurting people's ears a little, though she doesn't exactly understand that yet. But even at her age, she probably knows that "OW" signals pain.

It's up to you to show her that her behavior is no good because it causes pain in others.

It's also probably ok to exaggerate for effect in this case, even if it doesn't cause you physical pain, it's good for her to understand that it could.

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It just a phase; one of the random things she learned elsewhere. But how you handle it when she screams might be the reason why she keeps screaming.

I try to refrain myself from criticizing other people's parenting methods.

But I can tell you hitting is not a good way, it probably will work due to pain; but the only thing you are teaching your child is that 'if you dont get what you want, you can hit people for it'. Then there will be a phase they will hit you or others when they get upset.

First thing you need to learn as a parent is; dont get upset/annoyed/bothered when they cry or scream at home or in public. We know how hard this sometimes can be, but remember you need to be an good example for keeping your cool. If you do get upset, then you are teaching them getting upset is normal. They will then do exactly what you dont want them to do.

Second, when they do something wrong and there cannot be any doubts about it. They need to be able to understand what you are trying to correct. Like screaming loud, throwing with toys etc. You punish them by doing something they dont like. For example, I put my son in his playing corner /turning off the television / take away his toy / leave him in the hallway alone with doors closed etc. Outside is bit more limited, but by putting him in his buggy / take away his toy etc.

What you are teaching them is; there are consequences if you do something wrong or not behave and you cant do or get everything you want. Are those not the exact things we adults also have to deal with everyday?

When my son overreacts and screams, I just react by saying shhh very calmly and explain to him very slow and deliberately quiet. He calms down most of time. When you have conversation with someone and the other person is talking very loudly. If you reply that person deliberate quietly, he will reply less loud.

A few things I have learned being a parent is:

  • dont always say no, being less strict sometimes works positively
  • keep calm and talk quietly although your brains tell you to scream
  • be a good example and be consistent
  • patience, it can take some time for him to know what is wrong
  • reward my son, when he does something good/nice

My son is a typical curious, loud, crying, naughty, things throwing toddler. But when we are outside compared to other children, he is never causing any troubles. He just listens. Maybe we are lucky or....

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This is very normal. However, in my experience, your plan will likely not work out. The problem is not her screaming, it's her disobedience. If she stops screaming but continues to grow in disobedience, you will likely still be displeased. Fortunately, there is something else you can do. If you oppose corporal punishment on principal, ignore this answer.

I do not think what you are doing will work because, when I've tried your approach with my daughter who is very rambunxious, it does not work for more than a short while. Also, she quickly figures out that she can do whatever she wants and will only get a stern look or possibly miss out on a tasty reward for good behavior. She's not old enough to understand the inherent value of obedience, social harmony, and occasional self-denial so who can blame her? I also do not encourage you to try distracting her by giving her rewards because that does not teach her to be a good person, just to do whatever she wants and expect a distracting reward. Whenever we leave my daughter with her grandparents who exclusively use the distraction technique, she comes home and behaves considerably worse than when we dropped her off, especially if we do not spend all of our time distracting her.

Instead, what you should do is this: whenever she screams, say "no-no" or whatever you want to say to indicate "that's bad" in a calm voice. If she does what you say, excellent! You have a well-behaved child. If she does not obey, immediately swat her hand (not too hard but hard enough it hurts) and do so again every time she disobeys. The important part is the consistent response. You are essentially conditioning her to heed you when you say "No-no". Learning to listen and behave well early in life will be a huge, huge head start for her when she is older. Here is why this is such a good idea:

  1. This is the only thing small children understand. We as parents are very proud of our smart children. However, we can't possibly expect an infant to have a fully developed conscience and the ability to reason morally. They can't even talk! If you want to communicate with them that something is bad, non-injurious pain is the clearest, best way to do it. Further, by saying your phrase (we use "no-no") every time you swat their hand, they very quickly learn "no-no" means "don't do that" even if they don't speak well enough to understand "don't do that". The goal here is to say "no-no" and have them listen without swatting them. This is not hard to achieve. Both of my kids (a two-year-old and a one-year-old) understand this. You don't have to wait until they can talk and reason in order to discipline them which gives them a tremendous head start on their moral development by not spending years letting them behave badly and then trying to talk it out of them when they're old enough to discuss it and have been confirmed in mischief.

  2. Consequences are immediate. Delaying gratification is hard, especially for small children, and it's what we ask them to do if we delay punishment. Further, since we want to teach good behavior to children that are very young, they likely won't understand that later consequences are associated with earlier bad behavior. They may even have forgotten their bad behavior and we could ruin good family time by punishing them inappropriately.

  3. Consequences are impossible to ignore. If you give a stern look, it's easy for your kid to ignore it. When we started punishing my daughter for bad behavior (around ten or eleven months), she was very sad when we were upset with her and wanted only to rectify her bad behavior quickly in order to please us. She rapidly got over that and was able to ignore stern looks or harsh words. It's difficult to ignore a spanking.

  4. Consequences are immediately over. I have so many memories of receiving timeouts, groundings, and other "more humane" punishments when I was a child and they all involve my sitting in my room meditating on how much I hated my parents, how unfair life is, and how I was right and they were wrong. This is obviously not something anyone wants to encourage. When my daughter hits her brother, she gets a handful of spankings on the hand (pun intended) and then it's over and we immediately resume playing, laughing, etc. I don't yell at her, jerk her around, say mean things, or give her any reason to be mad. I tell her to come to me, she obeys because we discipline her, I give her the spankings she knows she deserves for pushing her brother to the floor, she may or may not cry and I may or may not snuggle her afterward, and sixty seconds later she's running and laughing and playing again. The difference is that she behaves herself for a while afterward and permanently becomes a little more conditioned toward kindness.

The main objections I hear to this program are from people worried that this will teach their children to be violent, to hate their parents, things like that. If you hit your children for no reason, spank them while losing control of yourself, scream and don't control your temper, or beat them so badly you produce lasting harm, those things will certainly happen. If you calmly, peacefully, and in full control of yourself swat your toddler on the hand when they misbehave, none of those things will happen and you will receive the many benefits I listed above. Timeouts, grounding, deprivation of privileges, etc are far more likely to produce bad children than appropriate corporal punishment for the reasons I listed above.

  • Please remember that comments are not meant for extended discussion. Feel free, though, to discuss in the chat room or regular chat. This conversation has been moved to chat. Thanks. – anongoodnurse May 5 '16 at 0:57

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