Written by Doctor G

How to Get a Preschool Boy to Stop YELLING!

I’ll take advice on getting 3-year-old boys to stop yelling. He does it for attention, but neither ignoring, nor talking to him nor time outs seem to work. It’s too loud and he does it when it’s inappropriate to be really noisy.

Robin, in Canada

OK, let’s face it. Yelling is fun! Don’t believe me? Go outside and shout something. It’s like popping a balloon, or stomping on bubble wrap, or running like Phoebe did on Friends. Do you know what he needs Robin? A yelling spot. In the basement (do you have those in Canada? Just kidding!) or the garage or the backyard – if you have forgiving neighbors.

So here are the steps to curb the yelling.

  1. Create the yelling spot. Decorate it with a sign that he helps you make and both of you (or the whole family) go out there and christen it with some great yelling.
  2. Explain that this is the spot for really loud noises. Happy noises, angry noises, somebody-pay-attention-to-me-now noises. Anytime he wants to yell he needs to go to this spot. Grown ups promise to never tell him he is being too loud in this spot.
  3. Ask him for a signal that you can give him when he is too loud anywhere else. This could be a funny animal noise that you make in his ear. This could be a signal like tugging on your ear. Make it a really obvious signal, since 3 year olds are not known for their ability to recognize subtle cues.
  4. As he gets louder, you get quieter. The quieter you get the more likely he is to listen to you. And, this avoids the embarrassing parenting moment of yelling at a child that they have to stop yelling.
  5. Let him earn loud time. Since time-outs aren’t working, and because he will love yelling with you (and making other loud gross noises) in the yelling spot, every time he responds quickly to your be quiet signal, he earns a minute in the yelling spot with the parent of his choice! Feel free to wear ear plugs during these fun times!
  6. Teach him “The quieter you are, the better I can hear you. This means that he needs to find a super-quiet way to get your attention, like laying his hand on your arm. If he does that, you will stop what you are doing immediately to talk to him or at least to tell him how many seconds he needs to wait until you can talk to him. This is a great trick for getting your attention while you’re on the phone without annoying the daylights out of you and getting himself in trouble!

Let me know how this fits for your family! Readers, if you have other curb-the-yelling advice for preschoolers, shout it out!

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