You’re trying to have a normal conversation with your child when you realize that you’re both yelling at each other. No, you’re not having a fight; it’s just a typical convo with your little kiddo. Sometimes, it might seem like speaking with your toddler is more like a screaming match, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s why toddlers yell when they talk — and how to have a non-ear-splitting chat instead.
They Can’t Regulate Their Emotions
If you spend even a short amount of time with your toddler, you’ll know that toddlers are very expressive little people. And as such, they sometimes have a harder time learning how to control their emotions. “Little kids are still learning about emotions, how they feel and how to express them appropriately,” says Amy Webb, PhD, a parenting expert. “Thus, when they get excited, emotional, or upset, the emotions just burst out of them with little control.” When this happens, your toddler might begin to yell, even if he’s not upset.
Toddlers tend to be a little self-centered, and are sometimes unable to see things from a parent’s perspective. But don’t take their selfishness personally—it’s all part of the growth and development process. “They don’t mean to be; it’s just that their brain development isn’t at a place where they can think of another person’s perspective,” says Webb. “Their brain literally hasn’t made the connections possible to consider the mind or thoughts of another person.” As a result, they might not realize that yelling is unacceptable or that it could hurt someone else’s feelings.
They Can’t Control Their Speech Yet
In terms of development, toddlers are still pretty new to this whole speech/language thing. They’re still building vocabulary, learning grammar, and understanding how to make those connections between letters and sounds. So if makes sense, then, that they might not have a firm grasp on their volume yet. “Yelling sometimes comes out just by accident because they can’t control the level of their voice yet,” says Webb. “Ever try to ask a toddler to whisper? It’s almost impossible for them.”
It’s a big new world for toddlers, and they’re still these tiny beings trying to navigate through it all. So it’s super easy for them to get frustrated and yell as a way of expressing anger. But if you’ve ever witnessed a toddler tantrum, you know that it comes on fast and furious, which again is due to the fact that they can’t control their feelings yet, either. And because they might be dealing with big emotions, yelling is a way to release the energy (and the anger).
They’re Mimicking You
If you thought that it was just your kid roaring, think again. Chances are, you might be raising your voice as well without even realizing it. If that’s the case, your toddler might just be trying to modulate his voice to match yours. So the next time you’re speaking with your child, be sure to note the level at which you’re also speaking. If you find that your voice is raised, you should acknowledge it to your child. You can say something like, “Mommy is speaking loudly right now instead of speaking in more softly. Let’s try to use softer voices when we talk.”
There’s no denying that toddlers yell when they talk. But instead of yelling over your child to get him to be quiet, be sure to model good speech behavior so that he learns to lower the level and not pump up the volume.