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Parents Share Methods of Calming a Child Who Won't Stop Screaming

December 10, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — There are days when a child's hug and total trust are the only bright spot in a troubled, busy day. But let's face it, there also are times when parents wish children came equipped with volume control knobs.

After a day (or days) of "Mama, I want . . . " and "Mama, she won't let me . . . ," parents can soar to new heights of inventiveness for noise control.

For those times in search of even just five minutes of silence BBSSS (Before or Between Sesame Street Shows), consider the experience of the McNickles of Pittsburgh.

"My wife and I have a 15-month old daughter, Taylor Kathleen, who used to cry constantly the first week of life," Colin McNickle said. "I mean, it was a siren-shrill YELLLLLLLL from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. EVERY night. That, as you know, can drive a beer drinker to scotch and make you take out your frustrations by shaving the cat."

So McNickle and his wife, Erin, took turns leaving the room or apartment at the first "WHAAAAA!!!!"

Taylor still has crying fits and the couple still take turns leaving.

McNickle also recently realized the silencing effects of microwave ovens.

Microwave to Rescue

When Taylor starts to cry, he makes a cup of tea in the microwave, "a microwave that makes a pretty good racket with the fan that runs when you fire them up. It's almost a habit now that when she starts to fuss or such for NO good reason, Mr. Microwave ($98 special, circa 1984) comes to the rescue."

Lots of parents also have discovered the lullaby effect of cars.

Craig and Catherine Walker put their VW bus to good use on Miami's roads.

"The kids are in the f-a-r back wearing seat belts or in safety seats," Walker said. "We in front, stereo turned up, cannot hear the arguments. Usually most or all kids go to sleep inside of 30 minutes, particularly on warm days."

Then there's whispering.

"Our kids like to talk in whispers. When we do it around the house, they usually follow suit. Game to them, relief for us," Walker said.

If you are a parent who does not have a job outside the home, how about Hattie Berger's idea?

She has two daughters, now grown, who--as all children do--used to voice their share of "Mom, mom."

One day, Mom sought relief.

'It Was Great'

"Instead of 'Mom,' they had to call me Mrs. Berger all that day," the St. Louis mother said. "It was great."

Such inventiveness spills over into day-care centers too.

"The woman who runs the little day-care center where my 2-year-old niece parties puts a damp washcloth on the heads of the ones who get so excited they are getting out of control," said Rob Wishart of Washington. The day-care center is in Panama City, Fla.

"My brother says often two or three of the little critters will be walking around happily and placidly with damp facecloths on their heads when he goes there in the afternoon. He says it calms them right down, and they seem to like the soothing effect."

Perhaps it works on adults too.

And, of course, there are baby sitters, but consider this twist.

"Advice from a more experienced mother over 20 years ago gave my wife and me an occasional boost through parenthood," said Bill Hanson who, with his wife, Irene, lives in Helena, Mont. "The advice was to order baby sitters--hired for our rare nights out and even rarer weekends away--to tell us nothing about our children's behavior, good, bad or indifferent, while we were out.

"The theory is you don't pay sitters to destroy a too-brief fun time away from the kids with party-pooper news of kids' mischief when you get home. Parents know all that too well without hearing it blow by blow from one who's overpaid to endure it for a few hours."

And then there are the words of Karen Timmons of Alexandria, Va.

"On the first day, God invented 24-hour convenience stores so the mothers of screaming infants could thrust them at their fathers at any time of day or night and say 'I have to run out for some formula.'

"On the second day, God invented pacifiers.

"On the third day, God created the phrase 'Oh, look junior, there's an airplane,' so mothers would have something to say when pre-schoolers ask questions like 'Why is pee yellow?'

"On the fourth day, God invented television so mothers would have something to giveth and taketh away.

"On the fifth day, God invented bathtubs so the mothers of pre-adolescents would have one 2-by-5-foot oasis where someone isn't standing next to them begging for a $200 skateboard or a training bra.

"On the sixth day, God admitted he goofed when he invented teen-agers.

"On the seventh day, God invented Mother's Day so mothers everywhere could be awakened at 6 a.m. by jelly-smeared children bearing burnt toast and gray eggs--and be thankful."

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