It’s happening. Tonight. You’ve waited months for it and it’s finally here…

It’s the series finale of your favorite hospital drama. Oh the anticipation. Will Dr. “Hasn’t Aged in Seven Seasons” finally tell Dr. “Always Happens to Be In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time” how they really feel?

Tonight, you’ll find out. 

Or, maybe, you won’t. 

It depends on if you can get your screaming children to pipe down and let you enjoy the show. For many parents, it feels like a law of the universe: you’re looking forward to something in your life therefore your kids must scream so you can’t enjoy it. 

They scream at each other. 

They scream at you. 

They scream because they just don’t understand why their eyes are droopy and tired. 

It happens. The question is why and what should you do about it?

First things first: take comfort

In this article, we’re going to explore the advice of Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Dr. Tine Payne Bryson PH.D. from their book No-Drama Discipline. And one of the key insights they share that can comfort you in the midst of a toddler screaming fiasco is this:

“Many parents notice that their children ‘save it all up for them,’ behaving much better at school or with other adults than they do at home… Those flare-ups are often signs of safety and trust, rather than just some form of rebellion.” 

In other words, when your children act out and scream, it’s often because they trust you. They know they can act out and still receive your love.

That’s #1.

Second things second: understand why they scream

Little ones scream for the same reasons many adults resort to bad habits like overeating or fighting when they’re upset: they lack the skills to handle their stress in more appropriate ways. 

It’s not that they’re fundamentally flawed or bad. They just don’t have the skills to deal with hurt feelings or stress. Understanding this point can aid parents in approaching their child with a more intentional attitude. As the late Stephen R. Covey would say, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Such an attitude will yield a more positive parenting approach when children threaten to interrupt the big moment in your hospital drama finale. 

That’s #2.

Third things third: identify what to do when children scream

Siegel and Bryson summarize part of their No-Drama Discipline framework with these three words: connect and redirect.Children need connection. They need to feel understood and loved before they will come down from their flaming tower of rage. 

“Our relationship with our kids should be central to everything we do.” they say. “Connection means  that we give our kids our attention… [and that] deep empathic connection can and should be combined with clear and firm boundaries that create needed structure in children’s lives.”

In other words, we don’t automatically resort to punishment and consequences when the kids yell - if I hear another scream, I’m taking away Paw Patrol for a week! - but rather, we come down to their level to understand their feelings, then we guide them patiently toward more productive behavior.

Easier said than done, we know

But it can be done. No parent is perfect. Your children will scream — and often at the worst of times. And when they do, remember this sage wisdom from the No-Drama Discipline authors:

  • Screaming and acting out is a sign your little ones trust you
  • Children act out because they don’t yet have the skills to respond to stress more appropriately
  • Connect and redirect to intentionally teach your children important, long-term life skills and coping mechanisms

Alright, commercial’s over now, back to your show.