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Why do children scream while playing?

by Ines Wurbs

Screaming children, a nightmare for most childless couples, but often also exhausting for us parents. Children cry in many situations, play is one of them. This usually puts a particular strain on us parents because these are actually situations in which we don’t want to restrict or even blame our children.

One thing is clear, children cry for exactly one reason: they cannot (yet) control themselves. But don’t worry, read here why this is normal and how you can support your child’s development. Of course, with some practical tips against screaming children. 😉

Why do children scream and squeal

Children don’t cry because they want to cry. The screaming is actually a by-product. It mainly occurs when our children are going through strong emotions. Be it anger, anger, or joy.

We humans control our emotions to fit the situation. Of course, this is not completely the same for everyone but depends heavily on the culture, the environment, and also the mood of the day.

In her book “The Culture Map”, Erin Meyer describes the following situation: When she was driving to a lecture with a colleague in the Arab world, she started a heated argument with a passer-by. However, it turned out that the colleague simply asked for directions and the friendly passer-by was happy to provide information. On the whole, however, the acting out of emotions follows similar guidelines, at least in the same culture.

Children learn to deal with their feelings

With children, however, it is a little different. First, they have to get to know all these situations and also learn to deal with their feelings. The essential development is completed around the age of six, but there are still situations where our children simply do not succeed so well, because:

  • They are exposed to multiple loads.
  • They’re just tired.
  • They want to relax and are looking for a balance.

We parents often underestimated the multiple burdens on our children. The so-called multitasking is increasingly used by our children and is demanded of them. For example, when a friend comes to play, our child’s job is not just playing. There are many social rules and mostly family rules that have to be observed.

So, there is also a lot to consider for our children when playing. It may be that some rules or behavior are (have to) be put aside so that our child has enough capacity for what is important, in this case, the game. And that’s why it can happen that they focus completely on playing and there isn’t enough energy left for emotional control. This can sometimes end in a fight or in screams and squeals of joy.

Spare time is free time for our children

Maneuvering through everyday life is often very exhausting for us and also for our children. Especially when they play or are at home in your spare time, the attention is no longer sufficient to suppress impulses or to live out feelings in a completely adapted way.

Leisure time is so important so that our children can relax and process what they have experienced. But relaxation rarely looks the same for children as it does for us adults. They usually don’t lie around and sip a cool drink, but rather play and romp. Leisure time is time without specifications, without pressure and stress. Children often become so engrossed in what they are doing that they ignore everything around them. This can also lead to them being loud and squeaking, growling, or screaming.

Why do little children cry while playing

Of course, the smaller the children are, the less practiced they are in controlling their emotions. They live out what they feel to the full extent. This is quite normal according to the stage of development because all the skills, such as impulse control, emotion control, frustration tolerance, patience, and empathy begin to develop at the age of two.

Our children have to learn all this first. They learn by observing and imitating and they also learn through experience and by trying things out. Often this is the least of your thoughts when they are playing. After all, our children are concentrating on playing themselves and also on the other children. So, they have enough to do. And especially when something is not so well practiced, our children can not yet implement it in such “stressful” situations. They just scream because they’re having fun, and emotion control still needs a lot of practice.

The group effect often reinforces this. When a child starts crying, it often breeds quickly. So, the children quickly swing each other up, and then it can get unbearably loud.

Consider it:

We must also not forget that even we adults still sometimes find it difficult to be appropriately quiet when we are happy, or we are really having fun.

What can I do if my child cries loudly?

Of course, we sometimes feel uncomfortable when our children are loud and scream or screech. Even if they’re just playing. Be it because of the neighbors or because we wish for a little more peace and quiet. So, here are a few tips you can try if your child is screaming while playing:

  1. Make eye and body contact
  2. Make a clear request that you would like it quieter
  3. Have a de-escalating effect (calm down)
  4. Ask what you said
  5. Ask your child to finish playing and suggest another game
  6. leaving the apartment together
  7. Offer the opportunity to let off steam and be loud
  8. Offer calming, relaxing activities
  9. Targeted practice distinguishing between loud and quiet
  10. Strengthening the perception of one’s own feelings through mindfulness training, for example with mindfulness cards.
  11. Offer scream pillows.
  12. Show other ways to express joy


It’s normal for children to be loud. But of course, it is not always appropriate and not always tolerable. That’s why it makes sense to tell our children when it’s too much for us, even before we lose our temper. Anything that helps our children learn to regulate emotions is good and accelerates development. However, just as important, are breaks from “adapted” behavior and opportunities to live out. Our children themselves find it difficult to classify. When they are little, not at all. That is why our support is required here.

Child noise rights

If you want to find out what rights your neighbor has, or you have as a neighbor, then we are on the wrong page, but I have found a helpful article in Washington post for you (or here if you are from GB), where the applicable regulation is explained to you.

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