How to Discipline a Screaming 2-Year-Old

Child crying outdoors
Screaming toddler outside. (Image: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Toddler meltdowns are frequent problem for the parents of a 2-year-old. Young children may become frustrated easily, but lack the verbal skills to express what it is they want. In many cases, this frustration leads to a screaming temper tantrum. It is important to discipline your child promptly, in an age-appropriate manner, to halt the tantrum and prevent future similar outbursts.

Step 1

Know your child. It's a vital part of child discipline, explains pediatrician and author Dr. Sears. What worked for your child at 18 months may not work at 2, and what works for one child may not work for another.

Step 2

Think like a 2-year-old. You can better respond to his behavior if you know what drives it. Kids will think crazy thoughts and try things that adults just don't understand, advises Dr. Sears. Kids this age are impulsive and action usually follows impulse, leading them to do or try things that don't make sense. Know why your child is doing something before correcting it.

Step 3

Distract your child. If he's yelling and screaming, take advantage of his naturally short attention span by offering a new activity or toy. Or, change the environment. If you're in a store, step outside for a short time. If you're playing at home, simply move to another room. You can also try doing something unexpected, like making a funny face or noise or talking to your shoe.

Step 4

Allow your child choices. Giving your child some control over his environment may help to ease his frustration over not getting exactly what he wants. If he is screaming for juice, for example, give him a choice between milk and water. If he is resisting getting dressed in the morning, ask him if he wants to dress or brush his teeth first.

Step 5

Calm him down. A child in the middle of a tantrum will not be in the mood to listen. Take him to a quiet place to cool off and calm down. This also applies to tantrums in public places. If necessary, take your child to the car for a timeout before finishing your shopping.

Step 6

Know his limits. If your child is tired or hungry, don't push him by running one more errand or starting a new activity. When you see your child is reaching the end of his limits, stop and allow your child a break.

Step 7

Stay firm. Giving in to your child's demands will only set you up for future tantrums.

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