From the Mommy Files…

Why Do Little Girls Scream?

Posted on: August 20, 2010

My little girls like to scream –sometimes it seems like it never stops.

About to lose my mind, I decided to do a little research, to see if anyone has found an answer to the eternal question, “Why do little girls scream?”

What I got was pages and pages of listings on the topic. Many of them even had that very title.


So I’m not alone, which is comforting. And maddening. There’s no easy answer. Is there ever?

Then why does it seem like my girls are the only ones around us who scream? Where did they learn this?

Well, I think I know.

From a little girl that we used to know. She was the only one who would partake in the act of shrieking, and there are a lot of girls around here.

It’s gotten worse, now that Boo and Bebs can interact more.

Where did Bebs learn to scream? From her big sister, of course. Monkey see, monkey do.

So I began to shift through some of the never-ending stream of articles, blogs and forums.

Some simply said they scream because they can. Nah. There’s gotta be more to it.

One mom wrote on her blog:

The energy contained within a little girl rises exponentially when exposed to another girl of similar age. The more girls, the more energy. The energy level thus rises to a point where it can no longer be restricted within its original container and, accordingly, must ‘overflow’. Only the end result of this dynamic differs between little girls and little boys. Girls scream. Boys play fight/ shoot/ karate chop each other.”

According to this theory, they scream because there are two of them. Hmmm. I think this would hold true in a room full of girls, like at a birthday party or sleepover.

Some forums had posts that ran the gamut from “it’s a general lack of parenting,” to “they learned it from their parents.”

OK. These people either don’t have kids or live in a fantasy land.

There seem to be two schools of thought on how to handle it.

1) Sit with the child until they are finished screaming or having a tantrum, so they don’t feel abandoned.

Now if you do this, haven’t they achieved their goal of getting your attention through negative behavior?

I tend to agree with the other school.

2) Ignore it, leave the room, don’t call attention to it.

I try to do this, but I’m human. Sometimes I get frustrated and I raise my voice. I know it’s not the right approach.

At the Berkeley Parents Network, a mom posted about her son’s screaming – yes, boys do it too:

“…practice the response of ignoring him immediately when he screams. Without negative OR positive reinforcement he will soon discover this is a failed method to manipulate you to do his bidding, and he will stop, because it doesn’t get him anything he wants. … be consistent.”

Another mom posted:

at times (I) just set her in a safe place with safe toys, turned up the loud classical music and cooked dinner with a wailing cacophany. …my child is now a very active creative independent sociable girl.”

There’s hope. 😀

This could work too:

“It got significantly better when we started turning her high chair around everytime she screamed. I would just say ‘No Screaming’, turn her chair around, and not turn it back until she stopped screaming. Then I gave her all the attention she wanted once she stopped. It also helped to explain to my other children that she was trying to get attention and that we should do our best to ignore her when she screams.”

So what do we do? What do you do?

To be continued.


2 Responses to "Why Do Little Girls Scream?"

Lancashire, England.
You go some way toward explaining attention seeking, though this does not explain why little girls routinely scream on the school playground. It sometimes seems that screaming is actually the essence of the game, and that nothing other than that is achieved.
If it helps your discussion at all, I can assure you that little girls on this side of the “Pond” are very adept when it comes to screaming, and imagine that may well be the case in every society.
My own view (for what it is worth) is that screaming is the result of some kind of primal instinct, especially in girls, which may once have had some purpose. Civilisation is but a thin veneer, and millions of years of evolution may have negated the need to scream, but not the primal instinct.
Kind Regards,

Lancashire, England.
You may also wish to consider the reason why teenage girls scream at pop-concerts. They certainly appear oblivious to the fact that they are drowning out the music they (supposedly) came to hear, and, once again, just as on the playground, screaming seems to be the most important activity.
Is it simply a case of mass hysteria, or are other and much more profound factors at work? Can it be that girls scream to be accepted by their peer group?
Kind Regards,

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