Q: My one year old son is starting to experiment with his voice. Screaming extremely loud whenever he can. In the mornings while others are sleeping, he wills scream. I will calmly tell him to "quiet down honey" and I was wondering if that is stifling his childhood. Any other time, screaming is okay, but at inappropriate times, I try and teach him to be quieter. Should he be able to scream whenever or is this early mannerisms idea okay?
A: Even at the age of one children are able to understand the difference between "inside" and "outside" voices. Screaming in the house, or anywhere indoors, is not a socially acceptable thing to do unless you are injured, even as a toddler. It will not stifle his childhood to react to this misbehavior and will help him in the future if you start limit setting now. I would start by telling him in a firm voice that we use our indoor voices when we are inside and outdoor voices when we are outside playing. Encourage him when he uses his voice appropriately inside, "thank you for using your inside voice" and when you are outside playing remind him that ir is ok to be loud now. A time out would be appropriate if he is screaming in the morning while others are sleeping. Warn him first that he will have to sit in the "time out chair" if he can not be quiet and use his inside voice. If the screaming continues calmly pick him up and place him in time out location and pay him as little attention as possible until he stops screaming. When he quiets down thank him for being quiet and remind him to use his "indoor voice" as you are letting him out of time out. If you can be consistent in limit setting the behavior should resolve within a few days.