A reader asks:

“My three-year-old daughter often screams when she is aggravated by the other children or when she doesn’t get her way. Is this normal? Will she grow out of it?”

It is average, but not normal. She will grow out of the screaming, but it will be replaced by equally ugly adult responses to not getting her way.

It is an easy habit to break. When she starts screaming, before you find out who is at fault, without saying a word, go straight to the switch. Spank her where she stands, and then inquire concerning the problem. Explain to her that the screaming will never again be allowed. When she is convinced that screaming will never get the other children in trouble, never gain her any sympathy, but only get her a spanking, she will stop her screaming. You might just ignore any offense from the others when she screams; let it always be her fault. Consistency on your part will break that habit in just a few days. Never threaten, and never show mercy. One squeak of a scream gets a switching. If you are consistent, four to eight episodes should bring it to an end. If you are 95% consistent and find it more convenient to only warn her occasionally, or if she finds that regardless of the spanking she is occasionally able to get her way by screaming, then it should only take about eighteen years to break the habit. Well, maybe the habit will not actually be broken, but at least you will not have to listen to her scream when she gets married. It will be her husband’s problem then. But, by then, you will have realized the mistake of being only 95% consistent, and you can practice on your grandchildren. You can be sure, they will be screamers just like their mother.

– Michael Pearl