Re: My 11-month-old has developed a horrible habit of screaming at the top of her lungs if she wants something or gets excited, regardless of where we are. When we tell her "no" in a firm voice she thinks it's funny and will scream even louder. I've also tried ignoring her and stopping what we're doing and putting her in her room. but nothing seems to work. What should we do?
The toddler years are some of the most physically and emotionally challenging times for parents. Your child is now mobile and able to explore on her own. Every experience is based on learning via her eyes, ears, fingers and mouth. Though strange to us, even yelling is a learning experience for children. Younger toddlers do not have the ability to decipher where it is acceptable to yell and where it is not. They like to yell to hear their own voices and at times they like to scream to see the reaction that comes from their parents.
I suggest breaking down the behavior and examining whether it's age appropriate exploration or a form of expression. For example, is she screaming because she is bored and trying to get your attention, or is she screaming because she got excited (which is normal for this age)? I think in your case, since she's less than a year old, it is really just age appropriate expression. You can begin to give her messages such as 'we do not scream in restaurants,' or 'we do not scream at home,' and then distract her and offer another option. Try something like, 'instead of screaming, can mommy hear you laugh? Let's laugh together.' Laughing, singing and even jumping are all ways for her to get out excitement without breaking the noise barrier.
As she grows older, her comprehension will improve and she'll be better able to respond to your directions of 'no.' For the time being, you can direct her to where she can (a park) and cannot (home) scream. You can also try to verbalize what she is feeling -- 'are you screaming to see your friend? That's wonderful! Let's give her a hug.' Verbalizing as well as distracting might help to minimize some of the screaming. The rest will go away as she gets older and adopts other physical and verbal tools by which she can express herself.