Screaming as Self-Expression?

When we were new parents, The Mateo & I decided not to make excuses for our children.  

We decided that our goal was to teach our children self-control and proper behavior no matter what situation they were in.

In other words, a tantrum-throwing 2yo is not excused because "it's just the terrible twos--there's nothing we can do about it!"

Or my personal favorite: "Screaming is the way Johnny expresses his individuality. There's nothing we can do about it: it's just the age."

We never bought those excuses. We believed there was something we could do about it. Afterall, if we didn't do anything about our own children's bad behavior, who would?

And in our book, screaming was bad behavior.

I taught my children that the only time they were allowed to scream was if they were being hurt. That means no screaming if a toy is taken away, no screaming for food, no screaming in the grocery store. No screaming. Period.

Call me crazy, but I don't believe children are animals that shriek for food. My children are human beings who, believe it or not, are smarter than any animal. Children are preeminently teachable and are happiest when they clearly understand the bounds of acceptable behavior.

Again, like any rule, there are exceptions. We made allowances for a sick child, a teething baby, a just-learning-to-speak toddler. Allowances. Meaning, we evaluated each situation according to the present circumstances. As a parent, I am required to excercise discernment.

But maybe this was really about me. I cannot handle screaming. It makes my skin crawl, it makes my heart race, it sends me straight into fight-or-flight: who's dying? who's being crushed by a bookcase?

Screaming is my pet peeve. Maybe your child has better table manners. I fully admit that my children need better table manners.

Any tips for getting children to stay seated while eating? Please share.

Update: I've officially feasted on humble pie today. After writing this post, Jude screamed twice. Twice! I obviously have some work to do on heeding me own advice! Anyone wanna take my Sterling Quality Mother Award?