Tired of screaming - FamilyEducation
Tired of screaming
12/30/2007 at 22:50 PM

First timer here, so here goes.  I am a young mother of 2 and I feel like all I do is scream at my son who is almost 4.  I have tried alot of different discipline tactics and with no success, my son does not listen to a word that comes out of my mouth.  So I have resorted to a lot of screaming which grabs his attention for a moment but after that he does not listen.  I am miserable and I think he may be too.  I have taken him to his dr for help and he gave us a bottle of pills (strattera) for adhd, I did not want to put him on meds to fix it but i figured if I was struggling maybe he couldnt help it either, for 2 weeks it was great but after that no help after 6  weeks i took him off.  I cannot find a resource or dr that will test or treat him for "adhd" if that is his problem per his age.  He is a smart  little boy and I love him, I dont want to yell at him anymore, but I dont want to raise the little boy that nobody wants their children to play with because of his behavior!  any suggestions or resources?

Hi Jenn,

I am a newbie here too, nice to meet you. Unfortunately, I have no experience with ADHD, but I feel the same way about meds as you do. I have two girls 9 and 3 and have learned that dealing with them calmly in any situation helps a lot. It takes a lot of patience and control to tell them what you expect from them over and over again. But don't expect your son to stop what he is doing just because you told him to. Distraction is a great tactic. If he is doing something he shouldn't be, tell him no calmly, explain why and then enthusiastically get him interested in something else in the room. Of course, this is all easier said than done, but worth trying and working on.

If you are always reacting calmly to your son, you are saving the attention getting "screaming" for when it is serious. Otherwise, if you are always raising your voice to your son, he won't understand the really important things (such as not running across the street), it will all just sound the same to him and he will ignore it all.

Good Luck and Happy New Year!



Boston Area Events and Parenting Advice.


thanky you and I agree,  that is exactly why I am asking for ideas because when it is important he just runs away from me and ignores me and I know its because I yell at him alot.  I was really patient for the frist 2.5 years and everybody in my family said I dont know how you do it with him I would be going crazy by now (mainly because he always seems to be out of control and it seems as if he cant help it) but then one day I did go crazy and now my fuse is short, how do i get that back?  I am going to need it back, I have a 10 month old girl, and I really dont want to raise my children by yelling at them all the time.  The biggest problem with my son is that you could tell him something over and over and over and he just doesnt get it or he doesnt care,  and he is so so so destructive! He wrecked a bunch of my cousins childs things and I was so embarrassed.  He wrecks pretty much everything he comes in contact with at some point.  I am lost, and I just want my little boy to be a great man and I feel like a total failure so far.


I would get some advice on raising autistic kids, too.  I don't know that it is ADHD or autism (or Aspberger's) or some other thing, or just on the edge of the normal range.  As far as getting your cool back, the airline video advice applies here.  You have to put your own oxygen mask on first, remember?  If you could put Daddy on duty for 1/2 hour and get a walk or a nap at least a few days a week, that would help a lot.  If you are trying to raise money and raise babies, too, maybe you really do just have too much on your plate. 

I used to be a yeller, because I was exhausted.  I finally put myself into a long-term bout with unshakable bronchitis.  I discovered that when I couldn't do everything, we still all functioned well enough.  I'm glad child protective services didn't see the house at that time, but I just cut way back on my expectations of myself, and focused on keeping people safe, fed, dressed, and on teaching the children what they needed to do.


It's possible your son has sensory processing disorder also known as sensory integration dysfunction.  My 3 1/2 year old daughter has it.  Most drs have little knowledge of this - the treatment is occupational therapy.  Many kids diagnosed with ADHD also have SPD.  Some kids with SPD are misdiagnosed with ADHD  The reason I mention SPD is because you say it seems to you like your son cannot control his behavior.  Whatever his issue is - SPD, ADHD, something else - this is most likely true.  Young children want to please their parents and do the right thing.  When that is not happening it is possible that they cannot.  Occupational Therapy has made a world of difference for our family.  I suggest you look up websites or books in the library for a checklist to see if you think your son might have SPD.  If you think so then find an occupational therapist.  In the meantime, try and talk as calmly as you can to your son.  You may still need to yell a direction or two to get his attention, but then become calm - don't yell the whole sentence.  Bend down and talk eye to eye with him.  Ask him to repeat what you said.  Have him repeat it 3 times.  Pay attention to when  his behavior is the worst - what else is going on around him.  Feel free to e-mail me if you read about this and want to talk more - carroncollier@gmail.com


Thank you, I did look up the checklist for SPD and it doesnt sound like anything going on there, and my hubby and I have been discussing different ways to handle him altogether and we just havent found anything that works for my son-  the struggle with our family is we are a blended family and my hubby has kids that are older and so I always have to hear about how his kids never acted like this so there must be something wrong with mine!  But I dont believe it, I believe its more my parenting style clashing with his and LACK Of Confidence in me.  Its just so hard because I give more affection than discipline and he wants to discipline before the affection so we battle?  Its a cycle in our home that I dont know how to change but it always comes back to the fact that the doctor diagnosed him with adhd so I am horrible for not putting him back on the meds.... how do tell him that its our incinsistent parenting skills and not a medical issue, because I truly believe my son is just  a victim of circumstance


Most children are inherently aware that Mommy and Daddy do things differently.  That deal about consistent parenting is mostly that you, yourself, be predictable.  You have probably done this, but I'll put it here, in case you haven't. 

When you give direction to your son, get within a hug's reach of him, turn his face gently to yours, and quietly and kindly give your direction.  Give him a second.  Say "Tell me what you need to do."  Let him tell you.  Then say "Do you know how to do that?"  Let him tell you.  If he needs teaching, teach him.  Then tell him you are going to stand here while he does it.  Tell him that you love him, and you will help him.  I know that when you have a baby to take care of, too, it is really hard just to put in the physical energy that this requires.  But that is what I realized when I was yelling across the cafeteria at my little girl.  I was exhausted, I yelled because I didn't feel like I could stand up, walk 20 feet, and talk to her calmly. 

Dig deep into the part of you that does the hard things.  The part that would pull a sled across the Alps to keep your family safe. 

And get help from Dad.  He's an "experienced" parent.  This is his kid, too, so that his other kids didn't do this is just an artifact.  Even if you decide to put the boy back on the meds, there are other skills that need to be used, in addition to the meds.  Don't undermine what your husband does.  If you commute Dad's sentences, it makes it so Dad seems unpredictable, and that IS bad parenting.  It sets Dad up for the role of bad cop, and that will really mess up their relationship.  It needs to be Daddy and Mommy teaching Jr how to behave. 



i make it a habit to get down at my children's level, have them look at me, and then speak directions to them, and i find myself constantly following my command with 'do you understand?'.  i love how you instructed the parent to ask the child to repeat what they need to do, and then ask the child 'do you know how to do that?'.  what a great idea!!  to also offer to help them in a loving way is wonderful.  this routine builds the child's confidence in their ability to accomplish what you ask, and shows that you care enough to help them to learn how to be self-sufficient.  i am going to try to remember this and implement it with my children.  thank you.


I have a similar problem.  I have a 12 year old girl who likes to call my 6 year old boy mean names and he bangs his fists on doors, window.  She does this almost every day and I am afraid he will hurt himself badly.  Does someone have any information or advice?  He has been banging his head on the walls since toddler whenever frustrated.  Also, he will hit my toddler (almost 2 years) the more the 13 year old teases him. He will keep drumming on the toddler's stomach and I tell him to stop and he ignores me. I am afraid this problem will escalate. 


Dear Jenn, How would you feel if your husband yelled at you all the time? Would you believe that he loves you?

Can you imagine how a child who is screamed at feels?

Can you imagine what happens to their self-esteem? It gets destroyed. This has horrendous complications for their adult life.

Do you think you show any RESPECT TO YOUR CHILD? Children are born blank canvasses. They absorb all that they see from the adults and they do it. Do you still wonder why he doesn’t respect your words?

Screaming is the single worst communication technique. It doesn’t work. It only builds resentment and rage. I can write a book on the subject but here is a brief of my thoughts.


Pills cannot replace lack of love and respect. You say you love him but he doesn’t see it. He only gets your attention (screaming) when he doesn’t something you don’t like. Do you show him your love and attention when he plays? Do you play with him? Do you praise him for even the most minor good behaviour? Do you encourage him to be creative?…..


Your child doesn’t have ADHD. Have you heard of PERSONALITY TYPES? We are born with unique combination of the four personality types. In most people two types are dominant. The personality types determine how we react to people and situations, to stress, how we communicate, our strengths and weaknesses. What they call ADHD is a normal reaction of a restricted child with a sanguine or choleric (extrovert) personality. The other two (introvert) personalities react by becoming withdrawn, timid, etc.  


There are a couple of books on the subject which have helped me enormously:


2.Men are from Mars, Women from Venus, CHILDREN ARE FROM HEAVEN


You will learn about personalities, how to recognise your child’s personality and how to respond constructively. When you know the best approach you will bring out the best otherwise you only see his weaknesses.


As for how to talk to him so he would listen. The best book on the subject:



And another must read and apply for parents. A true gem - in fact a few of them. Get the books from the series called



All these books are INCREDIBLE. You will achieve miracles when you apply them.


There is a lot more but this is a very good start. Please feel free to email me: happyjoyfulsunny@yahoo.co.uk




I am a reformed screamer. It's the worst feeling in the world. Your children won't listen and there you are, screaming your head off like a crazy lady...only to have very no results. Take heart, there IS a way of stopping your screaming, mending your family and attaining kids who listen! I firmly believe that the answer provided by veryHAPPYmom is top notch. I've got three kids 4,6 and 7 and I know that when my kids are consistently NOT listening to me, I am surely doing something wrong! Screaming just does not give any positive results and does give many, many negative results. The books listed by veryHAPPYmom are excellent. Please read a few of them. But to get you back on track again I have found some methods that can jump start you onto the right track. First, you must understand that your son is wounded and you need to make things right with him. I would sit down with him and give him a hug and tell him how much you love him and how wonderful he is. Then apologize for all the yelling and explain that sometimes Mommies make mistakes. Explain that when you have been screaming at him you were making a mistake. But now you know better and are going to fix things. From my own experience, this was difficult and full of tears, particularly from my 7 y/o daughter. My 4 y/o son was very direct and told me he didn't listen because when I screamed it made him not want to do anything I said. This actually began an amazing transformation in our house. Once you have laid this groundwork with your kids, then you must FIX IT! Make sure you can start the day off right. Get to bed on time at night and get up BEFORE your kids do. I get up one hour earlier than my kids. Start your day with about 15-30 minutes of "alone time". Personally, I go for a swim, or a walk or stretch. Get those endorphins working for you! Then, while the house is still calm I say a prayer asking to be patient, kind and calm. Then I eat a healthy breakfast. This gets your blood sugar nice and even and keeps your temperment more even. THEN, once I've had my quiet time and am all dressed and have eaten, I get the kids up. I am SO much more patient if I get the morning started in a calm and healthy way. For me, this is critical. But don't stop there! You need to reconnect with your son and build a happy and healthy relationship. Be positive and give hugs! One of the best ways I found to stay on the right track with my 4 y.o is to spend time only with him. Even if it's just for 10 minutes! Read to him and put your arm around him while you are reading. Play a game with him. Talk with him while you both use PlayDough (or whatever). Plant some seeds in a pot with him and talk to him in a kind and gentle way. Let him assist with the tending of these little seedlings (or whatever he thinks is a calm, fun thing. Nature is very soothing!) When you speak to him, get down to his eye level. Look into his eyes. Be patient with him and realize that he will take longer to do things than you do. He is only 4 and that is still pretty young! When he DOES listen give him a hug or a high 5. We use a sticker chart and reward positive behavior. A certain number of stickers adds up to a trip to a favorite park or a picnic or a trip to the ice cream parlor etc. You need to positively reinforce the good behavior, otherwise what is point in behaving? Remember that this is a continuous process. You can't just do this for a little while and then slip back to screaming. It will make things much worse (ahem...I slipped back once upon a time and trust me, you will have to work MUCH, MUCH harder to fix things again because then your children won't trust you...yikes!) Just work really hard to MAKE THIS A LIFESTYLE CHANGE and then you will see amazing results. You'll be a happy, non-screaming Mommy and have two happy kids!

Honestly? Because this is such violent behavior and it is clearly causing psychological harm, I would seek professional advice. Perhaps a child psychologist. Maybe check w/your MD for a reference. Many health insurance companies cover psychologists. Also most counties/cities have them available at no fee or a very nominal fee. Don't wait. This sounds like a situation that has ALREADY escalated.

I agree with the couseling suggestion.  It will help you learn how to do the things the other ppl are suggesting.  Speaking gently, offering assistance, including dad and being consistent.  couseling will help your child AND you learn different ways to interact.  YELLING DOES NOT WORK!!  I feel bad when people yell at me and all of us do - no matter how old or young.  If you don't have the means to get a professional, sometimes you can find help in the church.  When I was younger (my oldest son is 20) i had a mentor from the church and she even took my son one on one at times so I could gather some strength to keep up the momentum...


There is an effective discipline that works but you must be willing to be consistent for about one month with a new discipline. Check out oneminutescolding.com for a discipline that works and leaves both child and parent feeling okay.   Gerald e. Nelson


What they call ADHD is a normal reaction of a restricted child with a sanguine or choleric (extrovert) personality.

ADHD is not a psychological problem. It is a physiological disorder which can be tracked through brain scans. Can you explain what you mean by the statement you made. 


We have a son, 10, with ADHD. He's been full of boundless energy since he was five months old. We have learned that when both of us are a force united we win half the battle. We always say what we mean and mean what we say, no threats of NEVER EVER going to the park again, kids see right through that. We MAKE special time for each of our six kids so they feel important and won't need to grandstand for negative attention. Physical activity in excess of any normal kid you've ever seen. At two years old our son would hike several miles and be ready for more. The outdoors, the sunshine, the playground, all soo important! If you can get him physically spent in the early part of the day he'll have a better time of it. We also educate the school that if he misbehaves to NOT have him sit in a time out, but rather do something, anything, that is physically taxing. Have him sweep the front step, wash a wall, vacuum an office - ANYTHING - that uses energy and is not fun. Even running laps around the playground helps. I am a firm believer in meds IF they are needed. Exhausting all the other options should come first. Keeping a strict schedule (sometimes tough for parents, so be honest with yourself) feeding them lots of vegetables (they WILL learn to like them after 75 times, I promise!) and proteins and just cutting out the processed junk food, and providing them with a nice wind down and a happy ending to each day will make a difference. And those things are a LOT of work. Consistency is the key. We adopted a little boy who was 7. He was labeled everything you could possibly think of and on several strong meds. Six months later and he's on no meds now, following the above lifestyle changes and he is like a totally different child. Our ten year old takes Methylin each morning and afternoon (Strattera did NOTHING) and what a difference it makes in him. Some kids need it, and that is no reflection on your failure as a parent, so don't blame yourself. Only blame yourself if you don't fix the things you can. Love him a lot, and just spend fun time with him too! Good luck!