How to Discipline a Screaming Two-Year-Old Child

By Melissa Willets
A mini timeout is fitting if your howling honey is inconsolable.
A mini timeout is fitting if your howling honey is inconsolable.

What parent hasn't been in the middle of the mall or a grocery store when her two-year-old starts screaming uncontrollably? As points out, toddlers lack the self-control necessary to stay calm under pressure. So although your hollering honey is causing you anxiety, keep in mind she may not be capable of channeling her frustration in other ways.

Keep it together. Yes, a screaming two-year-old is bound to make anyone's blood pressure rise. But you must stay calm if you expect your kiddo to. After all, as notes, children can sense when a parent becomes annoyed by their antics, which may serve to escalate their anger.

Keep it simple. A direct approach may work to quiet your impressively loud love bug so give it a try. "Shhh! Stop screaming, honey." Demonstrate the appropriate volume with which your wee one should be expressing herself. "It's okay, sweetie. Shhh. We can't be so loud in the library."

Get to the bottom of it. Try to understand why your 2-year-old has broken out in a screaming fit. Is it because you told her she couldn't climb up the slide at the park? As points out, two-year-olds are always testing limits and will react with frustration when you put the kibosh on their fun. Still, once you know what is bothering your kiddo, you can work to resolve the issue. In this case, suggest, "Hey, let's go down the slide, okay?"

Bait and switch. If your tot is still screaming uncontrollably, it's time for distraction, a tactic suggested by "Oh, let's go swing!" or "Look! We can feed the ducks in the pond!" Perhaps another activity will get your toddler-turned-banshee to return to her sweet self.

Move along. A big enough tantrum might be best resolved by leaving the scene of the crime. As notes, when your child acts out in a public place you may feel the need to save face. So scoop up your sweetheart and head to the car, home or a more private place where you can attempt to calm her. Of course, don't ever leave her in the car alone.


It may be tempting to try and rationalize with your 2-year-old when she starts screaming, but as points out, many kids this age lack the verbal and cognitive skills for this approach to work effectively.

About the Author

Melissa Willets has been writing about parenting, pregnancy and "all things mom" since 2009. She has contributed to many websites, including and