Help!!! 8 Year Old Son Screams and Crys About Everything.

Updated on February 10, 2009
J.M. asks from Fort Myers, FL
18 answers

I am at my witts end my 8 year old screams and crys about everything from homework to eating. He is always unhappy, At the moment my husband is dealing with him because he says he can't dry a picture of a car. Earlier he was screaming because I asked him to help pick up toys. Everyday all day it is something even when he first wakes up he has more than 40 min to get ready for school and he freaks out because he says he does not have enough time to get ready, he will even do this when we wake him up earlier. We went through the same kind of faze with our 9 year old when he was 8 but he also has other emotional issues going on, that we know are not the same for this one. Does anyone have any ideas, I am a daycare provider in my home so it is not like I can get away from him much. He also yells and screams and hits his sister and brother. Any ideas would be great. It is to a point we don't even go out because this is the behavior we get. We have tried time outs but after 3 hours it kinda gets old.

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

I would have him tested for autism. Another idea is when he does the screaming and acting out it may be that he is overstimulated/stressed. Try giving him a deep hug or pushing down on his shoulders to see if this helps to relax him so that he can regain control again. Just a few thoughts.



answers from Green Bay on

Hi J.

Sounds like he is looking for attention any way he can get it . With being the middle child and you taking care of other children I am guessing there is not much time for one on one time with each child . A child always needs there own time with a parent .
I have a 10 year old and a 9 year old and they act out when they need a little more attention .

More Answers



answers from St. Cloud on

Hi J.. My thought was that it could be blood sugar related. My friend has a son that is hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) that has the same behaviours. My daughter has diabetes (hyperglycemic, aka high blood sugar) and when her sugars are high she has behaviours that she cannot get under control.
Blood sugar highs and lows affect everyone and usually manifest in behaviour. However, people with diabetes or hypoglycemia just can't "get over it" like we can. They need to be treated with glucose (low b. sugar) or insulin (high b. sugar).
If this doesn't jive with you then feel free to throw it out! Otherwise just ask a Dr. and they can do some simple tests to rule out a medical reason for these behaviours.
Stay strong mom!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

For my kids I take away what is most precious to them. For my son it was his train track. I don't take it away for a week or what ever (I am much meaner than that!) I make my kids earn it back. I tell the child what I expect him to do. So in your case you can say You will get your toy back when you stop whining about getting up and doing home work. I usually start with a few things and then as he gets better we work on more things to earn more stuff back. So if you take a game system take the games and everything and then he gets one thing back each time he does something well. If he continues to misbehave I continue to take things away. My son had no toys left at all at one point. After he had nothing left I told him the toys were going in the garbage and he was never getting them back. He learned and is now a good kid! good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi J.,

I would call the school counselor and talk to him/her. I would also suggest that your son have some visits with the school counselor. Perhaps something has happened to trigger this behavior -OR- he does have some underlying diagnosis. The most disturbing thing I read out of your list of behaviors is that he was upset because he couldn't draw a picture of a car. To have that level of anxiety is not normal. Whatever is going on, the counselor can help him come up with some coping strategies.

Another thing to look at is his diet. Does he eat any preservatives, artificial dyes, or a lot of sugar or corn syrup, either at home or at school? Keeping a food journal for a month is not the worst idea, to see if you can find any connections.



answers from Des Moines on


Both of my sons have anxiety and some obsessive compulsive( cries, anger ) issues. It comes out differently in both boys. My second becomes more frustrated but he also has a harder time in school as well.

We go to a pediatric psych Dr. and both kids are on Zoloft. It has done wonders!!! ( my husband also deals with anxiety ). I am not scared of medicine especially when I see how well my kids have responded. We also have 2 daughters who do not deal with anxiety.

Both the boys had many day to day fears and when we started asking them about their feelings it was amazing how scared they were about different things. Both boys started this right at the age of 8. My oldest is now 15 and still deals with anxiety but at least is old enough to deal with it better. I would see a peds Dr. as obviously your little guy is stressing out about something and he probably doesn't even know why himself.

Good luck! B.


answers from La Crosse on

are you sure its not emotional? it sounds just like my son. he has depression and has for a few years. now that he is finally digonised with it and is on a very low dose of meds he is a completely different child! its actually not uncommon for children to have depression but most can snap out of it on their own, but some can't.. like my son. look up child depression and its unreal all the different side effects it can have on children.

Good luck



answers from Sioux Falls on

My best advice would be the next time he throws a fit, tell him in a calm voice that he needs to stop, do what he's told, or you will not allow him to do ___________________,(Insert absolute favorite thing--even if it means taking something away, to not being allowed to participate in an outing) and then IGNORE him. He's 8. He understands that his behavior is wrong--especially being abusive to his siblings!

My eldest daughter was the same way. I have not allowed her to go to Girl Scouts until her behavior improved, she missed outings with daddy and the other kids, we've made her pick up the toys by herself instead of yelling at the other kids and being bossy, & she's missed family movie night at home and has had to sit in her room reading books, coloring or whatever she can find in there to do.
I know I sound horribly heartless, but with her, it had to be something dramatic and CONSISTENT!!! TIme-outs are useless at this point...especially after 3 hours. You're probably frustrated beyond belief at that point, and in the end, he still get what he wants, because his behavior hasn't improved.

As far as being abusive to the siblings, I would tell him that is NOT acceptable at any point and put him in his room!!! If he comes out, put him back....sit in front of the door if you have to. THere is absolutely no hitting allowed. PERIOD! Be absolutely adamant on this point. Tell him your the mom, and it's your job to keep all your children safe; and if he chooses to be mean to them, he can't be by them. PERIOD!

As far as unfinished homework...even art... talk to his teacher. Tell her that he is having a hard time finishing his homework at home. Not because he CAN"T do it, but because he WON"T. See if she would be willing to keep him at recesses/specials/ or after school until he finishes. Also start a chart w/ his teacher concerning the homework. When he has a week of completed homework, without any meltdowns, go get him a special treat. (A milkshake from McDonald's work for us).

My eldest in soon to be 11, and is a great kid! But, every now and then she'll have a meltdown. Maybe once a month though....and we warn her that if she doesn't behave, things will get taken away and/or she won't be able to participate in whatever we have planned for the weekend. Usually that snaps her right back. If it doesn't...which is rare...we follow through.

We also tell our kids how much we love them EVERYDAY! For the most part we are blessed with fantastic kids. But I really do believe it's because in our house, there's no empty threats, or promises. We give ONE warning that their behavior is not acceptable, and if their attitude doesn't change, we follow through.
Of course there's reasons why they may be acting naughty, the biggest one being tired, but, they still don't get to act naughty.

I should also mention we don't take everything away immediately. Usually it starts with..."if you don't pick up your toys, then you won't be able to watch tv until they are picked up." IF the bad behavior escalates, then they get to go to their room until they're ready to pick up the toys, and if it's out of control, they go to their bedroom, no tv for the rest of the night, and no outing. Once I ask a child to pick up the toys, I don't pick them up. They will pick up the toys or no privledges. When the task is completed, we will talk about what happened and why. So they understand that they need to behave and do what is asked of them. Usually by the time the toys get picked up, they have calmed down and are able to talk. My kids can't communicate when they're we wait for silence or near silence from them, so we know they're ready to listen, and they know we'll be more willing to listen to what they have to say

Good luck. It's tough. But really just hang in there. You're the mom and dad and YOU get to make the rules. Just be consistant and follow through.

P.S. sorry this is so long! I've just been there and know how frustrating it can be! But, if you can be consistent, and follow though, there should be a remarkable change! Just stay strong!



answers from Sioux Falls on

Hi, I'm sorry your going through this, I also have an emotional 8 year old girl! We have been dealing with her since she was only one though. She has finally been diagnosed with a mood disorder which I think is pediatric bi-polar. I have read many books on it and feel this is a defiant diagnosis. It sounds like your son has some of the symptoms of it! Espicially the anger part of it. If you wanna talk about this more at all than please do!!



answers from Des Moines on

Do you ever get time alone with him? As a middle child things can be tough enough without any extra stresses of school and such. Maybe you need to set a few hours a week to just being his time with you no interuptions. I have 5 nieces and nephews and i saw them all through the divorce of their parents. (3 in one set 2 in the other) i found that once i started making sure that each child got one on one time with me or my husband or their mothers with out the other children around they all started opening up and talking to me about their problems and getting more joy and less fits at home. He could have issues that are easily solved my some parent time and conversation. I hope everythign works out for you adn your family.



answers from Madison on

HOw does he do at school? Same behavior, better or worse? That might be a first clue as to where to focus your attention. If the teacher(s) have had trouble what have they tried and did it work or not?

Could you make a simple to read daily schedule for him (maybe with picture support)? Give him a little control to see what is happening when. At our we try to get all our stuff ready for the next day the night before,as it helps get rid of some of the "rush" in the am. What about scheduling some one on one play time too?

Just trying to throw out some ideas. Your pediatrician should also be able ot give you ideas/help on how to handle behavior and development. That's one of the things they're supposed to do. Check out Super Nanny too; she's great with kids like your son. I wouldn't automatically assume there is some big medical/behaviorial issue.



answers from Minneapolis on

This may be way off, but could he have lead poisoning? You state that you remodeled your house and sometimes older houses have lead paint in them. Check out this website: It mentions some of the things you state is happening to your child.



answers from Waterloo on

I would talk to his dr. He may have depression issues (even at 8 yrs old).



answers from Sheboygan on

You've gotten lots of advice to address this behaviorally or physically. My advice would be to check out any physical reasons FIRST. Any behavior modifications (including the tough love techniques) are not going to work if the behavior is not something your son can actually control. It's a bad road to go down, because your son won't be able to behave in a way that you want him to, and you will punish/discipline him for it. You'll get a kid who believes hes bad no matter what he does.
I would also seek the advice of a family therapist. He has anxiety that doesn't sound normal to me (layperson's view).
Your son may be dealing with issues that prompt his behavior and he really isn't mature enough to even know what they are, much less be able to deal with them.
In a nutshell, I think you need some professional help. But it's ok, because sometimes parents need "backup", and sometimes you can't deal with it alone--you need a team. And I think you want your son to get all the help he needs.



answers from Minneapolis on

Is this new behavior for him, or has he just started being sensitive? If it is new, what has changed in his life? Is he having trouble at school or just at home? Have you talked to him about his feelings? Could he be trying to gain attention by mimicking what he saw his older brother do that worked? There is a lot to consider. At eight years old you should be able to talk to him when the situation is not stressful and get some answers and figure out a way for him to get his needs met. My advice is to try not to be angry and try to be understanding. He is a child and therefore immature by nature and perhaps not able to communicate as you might hope to get what he needs from you. Be patient and let him know how important he is to the family. Maybe he needs something to be responsible for doing so that he can feel more grownup and experience pride in his capability. Then he might stop some of the babyish behavior.



answers from Sioux Falls on

I know I posted of complete seperation and that is what worked for the couple I know, but it has been eating at my gut since I posted.
When my son was 2-6 he would have melt downs like this and I didn't link the older behavior with the younger symptoms til this morning but it hit me that they may be similar. Has he been like this for a long time? I know my son is bipolar, and he has been like this forever. If your son has only recently started acting like this one of the questions they asked me when they diagnosed my son was if it was new behavior because it may be an adjustment disorder. Just a thought, I'm sorry I was harsh in my last post, I'm normally not in favor of tough love, I just heard of the couple who did the separation thing that week and it worked so it was fresh in my mind. I truly think he should be evaluated and see a counselor I know it did wonders for my son. Sorry for my last post



answers from Minneapolis on

I completely agree with the previous post about talking with the school counselor. Remember that they are not therapists, but can help with developing some interventions like participating in some individual sessions or a small group. If this is out of the normal developmental range or the interventions do not seem to work, you will get some guidance on "next steps" to try.

I also agree that it could be related to diet, and keeping a food journal is good. Hard to know what he is eating excactly at school, however.



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi J.
How Much sleep is he getting? He sounds just like my nine year old when he hasn't gotten enough sleep my son is in bed by 8 and gets up at 7 this seems to be a good amount for him so you may try moving his bed time back 15 minutes until you think he is getting enough sleep also if you can find some VERY physical activity to do to make sure he is tired he may sleep better and then be well rested. Good Luck.

Next question: Autism/asperger Vs. Anxiety?