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How do I get my 8 year old son to stop screaming? He screams when he is happy and when he is angry. It's constant. The neighbours must hate us!!!!
Sounds really tough.
One way people have learned to reduce this behaviour successfully is through differential reinforcement of other behaviour. What this means is making it really rewarding for your son to go for longer periods without screaming. This is a great way to
go because you don’t have to wait for the behaviour to occur--you intervene in a rewarding and scheduled way for every significant period that your son does not start screaming.
Another way to deal with it is through differential reinforcement of alternative behaviour. This means identifying, teaching and rewarding a behaviour that cannot be engaged in at the same time as screaming. This could be humming a tune with lips closed, or it could be listening to your favourite TV show on low volume, or eating a healthy snack that needs lots of chewing, or maybe laughing at a funny joke.
Another way is by identifying the things that trigger the screaming and eliminating those things from the environment as best as possible.
Another way is looking at the things that usually happen during or after the screaming and dramatically changing those things.
When all these prevention and learning strategies don’t work and the screaming has started, the goal becomes how to limit the severity of the episode. The severity could be measured in terms of the duration of the episode, the volume, the level of
disruption the behaviour causes to others, or the amount of negative social attention received by your son as a result of the episode. The best way to limit episodic severity is by avoiding punishment for the behaviour. Punishment tends to escalate behaviour to another level because when a behaviour does not get a person what they want, they try harder using that same behaviour. In fact what works best is if you find something so overwhelmingly positive for your son which only comes out when he starts to scream and which interrupts the screaming and which he would rather have or do than engage in the screaming. There is ample scientific data to show that this not only reduces the severity of episodes, it has a low likelihood of increasing the rate of episodes if preventative and educational strategies (eg. Social stories, skill building in areas of personal interest to the person) are consistently used at other times to reinforce other alternative and socially acceptable
All of these strategies have been used by others in the past and faded out to zero as the person learns other behaviours that are naturally more rewarding within their environment.
The most powerful thing that any of us can do over time is to try to understand at the deepest possible level, what the function of any behaviour is. Eg, if the function of your son’s behaviour is to stimulate his eardrums, he might get those same needs met through a self-massage of his ears, or by putting some rock music through some earphones for a while. Whenever we learn an easier, more socially rewarding way to get our needs met, we tend to stop using the old behaviours that met that need in the past.
For more info on the science of applied behaviour analysis, I found the below website just now (it looks pretty good), and I hope all this is helpful in some way.
Best of luck to you and your son.
Hi Steve we had similar problems with our son. We ended up double glazing his bedroom windows to reduce noise for
neighbours. It took a long time and trying many different approaches. But the things we found most effective were: rewarding him when he was quiet (no squeals) even just for a minute or two. We also used his
bedroom as a place where he was allowed to scream as much as he liked. Probably the hardest thing was trying to ignore him when screaming. We eventually worked out the main reason he was squealing was for attention. But just ignoring him didn't work, we then would get a second person to model a more appropriate action than squealing. At first just one word: Dad, Mum, eat, drink.
We noticed the best improvement with the modeling. At this time our son was non verbal.
Then finally he was diagnosed with adhd and we started him on Ritalin. Now he has more language we are finding the screaming has decreased to almost nothing. I think the key is to try and find out what is causing the screaming then coming up with a plan from there.
Hope this helps
We discovered our son's screaming was due to pain in his joints, he has had this problem for years
We discovered neurofen stopped the problem temporarily
We have now fixed by giving Axel one tablespoon of fish oil per day
borrow books with picture and show him how to deal with excitement and anger.. teaching him one step by step. which
works. modeling him that when you are happy and excited, you go and hug some one or something. he will copy too...
This is a hard one, when my son is emotionally excited or angry it often results in a loud response. I have been told to give him an alternate behaviour to replace the loud one. One that allows the excitement or tension to release. Then practice it in the moment over and over until he does it himself with prompting then maybe without.
So for happy a physical activity instead of screaming he likes to jump on the trampoline, on the spot or bounce on the lounge or go for a run around the house. For angry he voices his anger and then if he is escalated he takes himself to another room to cool off and come back when he feels calmer and ready to talk about it. All easier said than done I know.
Hi Susan, have you tried using picture.....ex: stop sign, so when he's screaming too loud just show him the pic sign and say stop, be quiet......sshhhh.... Talk to him softly.
I am not sure if Susan's 8 year old is verbal or non-verbal and if he's responding to Visuals.
As for our 6 year old, he is non-verbal and responding to visual, I have done a picture with no screaming sign and bring with me in my hand bag everywhere i go. He screams when he is happy and angry, similar to Susan's child.
Initially he does not respond to the visual and it'll take a while, when he does respond, he'll not like the visual as it's asking him to stop screaming.
As time goes, he is now more aware that it's inappropriate to scream and he does calm down much faster.
It's all about the awareness and also to redirect and provide the child another option to express being happy (e.g. ask him to smile or laugh softly) and being angry (to take few deep breaths exercise, or for a non-verbal child to try say "angry" or for the child to use the "angry" picture).
It's not going to be easy changing the 'habit' of screaming as the child get older but it'll take time and efforts and it's worth while paid off when you see some changes, even small steps. Our child is much aware now that he just can't scream whenever he likes.
If Susan's child responds to visuals and would like to have the picture, let me know and I can send through, all she has to do is to print out and laminate it and place it readily for use in the house and with her during outings.
It's my current issue too w/ my 12 year old son. So far I just tell him and show the picture that ADHC specialist made for us.
We use pictures so he can express himself.
All the best
You have not mentioned if he screams just to scream or if this is how he constantly communicates.
Is it he’s way to gain your constant attention? My daughter will do that, or to show they are in control, or she can do it purely to annoy me!! And knows it!
Can you bargain with something he really wants? Not sure of ability, so would 5 stickers on a chart for not screaming for 2 hours or something equal a jelly bean for example?
Or extra computer time .
My daughter gets remorse so if she sees I get upset by her actions she will apologies and then stops for a while at least!.
Only other idea use time out chair? Gets off when not screaming put back on when is?
I don’t know, but with my daughter if this is a new thing, usually there is something that you may not see yet that has triggered it .
So does my Ben....especially when I ask him not to wake his sister at 6.30am..............
Please do not worry about the neighbours..............they probably have children that scream too...............
I find that in the mornings especially he screams all the time............I feel that Ben is not doing it deliberately....just needs
that in the morning .....
Email me if you need to.....always welcome to chat with you..
- Kimbo xxxx