Screaming kids and crowded stores

676227_christmas_3I was rushing through a store hoping to get home early enough to wrap a couple of presents before cooking supper.  I was third in line waiting to enter a long stream of cashiers.  I scanned all the trinkets placed at eye level to catch the spur of the moment buyer.  The soft tones of Christmas music were drowned out by the ear piercing scream of a child.

It wasn’t a scream of help or even one of pain.  It was just the annoying    scream…breathe….scream….breathe of a child who hadn’t been taught how to act in a store.

The woman in front of me turned around and rolled her eyes.  “I just hate it when parents let their child annoy everyone in the store.”.  The lady in front of her chimed in, “Me too….but what can you do?  They say it can’t be stopped.”  She moved ahead to the next cashier.

The woman in front of me gave me a puzzled stare. “It’s hard for me to believe it can’t be stopped.  Why do some kids do it and others don’t?”

I smiled.  “It can be stopped and it’s not that hard.  I’m a family specialist and I give lectures on how to stop it.”

“Really?”  Her face brightened.  Can you give me the short version?

I shifted my purse to the other arm, took a drink of water and hurried through the main points.

1.  From the moment your child can respond, make sure he/she knows that you mean what you say.  Make sure when you say “If you do this I’m going to…” that you always follow through.  Not following through just one time will teach your child that they don’t have to mind you.  Even babies can learn to read your desires through your touch.  Every so often when they squirm or figdit, hold them with a firm touch to let them know they can be still.

2.  Find a trigger phrase that fits you.  Mine is “This is not acceptable and it must stop now.”  Saying this phrase with authority (the key here is an authoritative tone in your voice) should become a trigger to  quickly get your child’s attention.

3.  To accentuate the words, I also use a physical trigger.  I usually cup their face in my hands and bring them nose to nose while I say “This is not acceptable and it must stop now.”

4.  If it continues then it’s time to show them that you mean business.  Take them back to the car and explain why you are asking them to use an inside voice.  With a stern tone demand that they calm down and talk quietly or else you will…….    Whatever you promise to do, if they don’t mind – you must follow through.  Remember they will never see the need to obey if you don’t teach them that disobeying will not be tolerated.  You won’t have to take time out of your shopping day for very long.  Only long enough to let them know you mean business.  If you do it right….just a few times of this and they will stop.  Once they know you are an immovable force they will stop.

5.  Screaming in public can be a response to your home atmosphere.  Do you allow that kind of behavior at home?  If so it must be stopped there first.  Is your home calm?  Are you a screaming out of control person?  Are you argumentative with others?  Even newborns will pick up on the home atmosphere. I helped a mother change her consistently crying two week old in just a few days.  How?  I taught her how to relax and make her home calm and warm with a relaxing atmosphere.

6.  The real truth is…. Children scream because they know they are allowed to do it.  Let them know it’s not acceptable and it will stop.


That’s the short version.  For more information on the topic contact me for a lecture or stay tuned for the longer version.  🙂


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