Thursday, January 27, 2011

My 2 year old won't stop screaming! Help!

Questioner: Summer

Subject: 2 year old won't stop screaming

Question: I am a two year old preschool teacher at a local church program. This is my second year and I have a problem. I have one child who screams from the time her mom drops her off until she returns to pick her up. She also makes herself throw up.

I have tried everything from distracting her to ignoring her. This has been going on for two weeks now. She has no tears in her eyes, she is just mad that her mom left her. I am at a lost and am considering having her dropped from our program because it is becoming more than I can handle. I can't do anything with all my other children because they can not hear me over this child. I welcome any suggestions that you may have.


Answer: Dear Summer:

She sounds like she has not had transition time. Two years olds are not ready to leave their parents so she needs lots of compassion. Realize that at two, just two minutes is a lifetime let alone 8 hours a day. For those 8 hours a day her mother it lost from her. If you do not want to drop her from the program then suggest mom come 30 to 45 minutes before she has to leave and spend time with her toddler at the center. She needs plenty of warm up time.

In addition let her bring some transitional objects from home, maybe a blanket and some soft toys which has moms smell on them. Ask mom to provide pictures of her and her child together so the child can see them during the day. Give her copy of one to hold and keep her hands on or put some on a few toys.

She could also benefit from visits from mom during the day at least at lunch time and if she can during breaks.

Ignoring the behavior is the best but if she is disturbing others then you need to have back up to assist you. Giving her any eye contact and reinforcing her behavior with attention when she is acting out is a sure fire way to keep this going. Often when people try to ignore behavior they go back and forth from ignoring to cajoling the child rather than strictly ignoring. Any reinforcement will keep this up.

When ever a child is adjusting 2 weeks is not along time for a child to react at the age of two. Also, when mom leave tell her to show the child when she will be back after whatever activity is happening at the daycare. If she cues the child into when to expect her by activity eventually the toddler will realize when to expect mom back.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller