Hope everyone had a vacation or a staycation. I hope you have taken at least one trip to water, to hills, to mountains, to parks, or open fields. I know that finances are tight. I know that time off is hard to come by but I hope you found a few hours or days to just be with your family, your friends, or people who need you.

When I am on vacation, I want to find a fairly large dose of peace and quiet. I know that there will not be peace and quiet all the time but I like it when there is some. I really don’t want to hear babies scream inconsolably.

Why do babies scream? Why don’t they stop? Ever wonder why some little ones scream and scream and scream; whereas, others scream in protest briefly and allow themselves to be distracted or comforted or fall asleep or something else?

We need to recognize that there are  a lot of things that are going on. If  a child scream,s that child has a reason — a good reason likely. This is the key starting point for any Toddler Whisper (of the Horse Whisper variety). Things can become difficult when parents believe that their very young child’s  behavior is caused by some characteristic of the child – especially a negative one (e.g. careless, willful, defiant, mean). When we think that the cause of a child’s behavior is something stable and about that child, we are less likely to look for or see other causes for the child’s behavior.

Parents who believe that children are doing something defiant or willful are less likely to consider the environmental, situational, and temporary causes of the behavior.  We are less likely to examine our own contributions whether it is our history of giving in, giving up, screaming back, or worse.

Without this very important information, we are less able to come up with more flexible, reasonable, and effective next steps to address the problem.  It is like trying to choose curtains only based on the window size and not looking at the colors in the room, the purpose of the curtain (obstructing light, make attractive, create more privacy), or the cost. If you just choose based on the window dimensions, your curtains might not solve the problem, might make you unhappy, and might cause more problems.

This is true for parenting. If you choose your response to the child just based on the child’s behavior, not based on the current events surrounding the problem, not based on the limits of the child’s knowledge or skill, and not based on the long-term goals that you have for your child, the strategies that you use might not solve the real problem and may create more.

If a child is screaming and won’t be consoled. Take another look. See if you can hear what the problem is in this situation. Think of a whole bunch of potential solutions and keep trying until you find one that works.

There is really nothing simple about this. There are too many research teams and individuals for me to cite one particular study. It a whole field of research on the origins and contributions to aggressive behavior whether in childhood or adulthood, at home or at school, today or in the future. There are child characteristics, parent characteristics, family processes, community and cultural influences, genetics, and environmental demands — human-made and natural — that all have significant and meaningful effects. Do the best you can and if it is not working take another look.

Adults and Children Together –Raising Safe Kids

Teach for Life

Kelly