The piercing baby shriek. This is a sound that sets my every last nerve on edge. This is a sound to which my brain responds, “Make it stop NOW!” Yeah, it’s a sound Dante is making a lot lately.
He used to scream some, when he was just a few months old, but then that pretty much went away, replaced by much more pleasant cooing and babbling sounds. Now the shriek is back in a big way. He screams when he’s frustrated or tired. He screams when he’s sick of doing whatever he’s doing. He screams when he’s standing and wants to sit down. He screams, sometimes, totally out of the blue for no apparent reason. Just for fun, maybe.
This is a big challenge for us as parents. Of course, we want to respond appropriately when he’s expressing a need for help, but when that expression makes our hair stand on end, it’s a little harder to summon the calm helper self. His means of communication are limited — I recognize that. Still, I wish I could redirect him into a different mode. It’s a bit of a dilemma — I don’t want to give positive reinforcement to the shrieking, but I also don’t want to fail to respond when he’s looking for assistance. Plus, that would make him scream more. He’s still too young to understand our requests that he communicate his needs in a less shrill way, though that doesn’t stop us from trying.
Right now the strategy is just to redirect him to something less screamworthy, and possibly hand him to the other parent if one of us is about to lose it. Then that person can handle their frustration like an adult — go to a different room and scream.