"Potty Training Problem - Screaming Toddler."October 16, 2009 by Mike Strawbridge
Why toddlers scream when asked to go potty.
Toddlers scream for three reasons:
1- Pleasure. When they are enjoying themselves at play, they often make high pitched screams just for fun. These are like the high pitched barks a puppy makes when playing.
2- Pain. One of the defense mechanisms built in to most mammals is the ability to make loud noises to try to frighten off an attacker or to summon help in the event of an emergency. Like the sound a puppy makes when it gets it foot caught.
3- Fear. Similar to the pain response, a toddler may scream when confronted with a fearful situation. You may know there is no logical reason for the toddler to feel fear, but the fear is still very real to the toddler. Adding threats of punishment will not help the child overcome the fear. If you can learn to recognize the sound a a fear scream, you can more quickly react to calm the toddler before moving on.
There is also a forth reason the toddlers scream - because it is expected of them. You can see this in group play where after one child screams they all start to scream. But it also occurs when the child detects something in your emotions that may cause pain or fear. Like if you approach your child expecting a war over going to the potty, you may be greeted with a scream because your child senses that you expect it.
Again, I see this in my puppy. He will gladly chase me out the door or run out for a treat but the moment I decide he needs to go out because I am tired of fighting over what is a chew toy and what is an expensive shoe, he balks. He will sometimes even start to get his hackles up and begin to yelp. He sometimes senses my intentions even before I do.
So when potty training, it is important to keep your own emotions under control so that they are not projected onto your child.
Mike Strawbridge October 16, 2009