Screaming and Fighting

Updated on April 19, 2008
M.K. asks from Ravenna, NE
16 answers

I have 4 children, with my three youngest being boys still living at home. The ages are 15, 10 and 4. My problem is the constant fighting and screaming they do. It started with the older two doing it but now it has progressed right on down the line to my 4 year old. When ever he is angry whether it be at me or his siblings he seems to think it is ok for him to scream top of his lungs. I'm talking the high pitched screaming. What I have been doing as of lately is putting him in a time out in his room. But then he comes out two minutes later and screams at us some more then turns around and goes back into his room and slams the door. Let me say this, there are days it's amazing I have any hair left.
Any thoughts or advice would be really appreciated!!!!

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So What Happened?

Wow, thank you to everyone who responded! You advice is great, I'm going to sit down with Hubby and go over them and see what he thinks we should try there are so many wonderful ideas.
I also want to clarify the reason I work two jobs is a year and a half a ago my daughter was in a very serious car accident that left her pelvis shattered in 9 places and I was required to stay home and take care of her in a wheel chair for 3 months. The medical bills were astronomical and the I also had to replace the car. So needless to say I have a large amount of debt I have been trying to pay off and not by choice.

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answers from Minneapolis on

You have to find a consequence that really gets to them, and use it immediately, every time they fight, yell or are disrespectful. When the consequence is more distasteful than whatever rush they get from fighting, they will stop. I recommend the book, What the Bibl Says about Child Training by Fugate, for detailed info on how to tame this behavior. Ultimately we hope to change hearts so the children will love and respect us and each other, but until then we must be the enforcers that demand such appropriate behavior and refuse to tolerate anything less.

SAHM of seven (23 yrs - 18 mos) who tried fighting, but have learned to find other ways to vent frustrations and mediate disagreements. All seven both like and love each other.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Whoa M.! What a nightmare. Guess who they are really mad at? YOU. Are you ever home?

You may love your life, but obviously your boys don't love theirs. It's time to reign in all of your lives and focus on what matters here. Boys who don't have enough parent time will revert to jungle-like behavior. Your four-year-old sounds deeply traumatized by the whole experience. How fair is that?

You need to put your televisions and computers in the garage in boxes and start having some serious family time. Split the kids up - dad gets the older, you get the younger and then flip it so that you take the older and he takes the younger.

Read books on parenting teens and books on parenting younger kids. "Raising Your Spirited Child" will be a good place to start for the little ones. "How to Talk to Kids so they'll Listen and Listen so they'll Talk" would be a good place to start for the older ones.

M., you and your husband are outnumbered. Outnumbered parents cannot work two jobs and expect their kids to enjoy their lives. Get focused on why you have kids and make your job at home parenting.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

I hate to use spanking except as a last resort, but my two year old does the same thing, and I tell her not to come out of her room until she is done screaming, and if she does I will slap her hand. Usually, the threat works, and I don't have to slap her hand.

Obviously, you have quite a handful with the other kids doing it too! It sounds like you are very busy, and could use a support network. If you don't have a church, I would recommend mine - Elmbrook Church. They have an extremely popular youth group your boys might be interested in.



answers from Des Moines on

Wow M. you have your hands full thats for sure.The 4 year old wants attention, I imagine he goes to a sitter and he must fight for attention there as well, thats how the yelling starts. He needs to be heard and to be listened to , even at 4 they have alot to say. You working two jobs is not good, the kids need you, need to have Mom and Dad both. Talking to them and asking them about their day. We use to have family discussions at the dinner table and everyone got a trun to speak and were not interupted. The times out are necessary and when he comes back out I would add more time, also a time out in his room is not always the best place, he needs to be seen and watched, we used a time out chair and they had to face the wall. Siblings do fight, especially boys, thats why it also helps for them to be involved in sports so they can burn off all that energy. Good luck
K. (Mother of Four 2 boys, 2 girls)



answers from Lincoln on

I also have three boys and a girl. When my two older boys would start fighting I'd tell them to take it outside and not to come back in until they got it over with. By the time the got their coats and shoes on and went outside they had forgotten what the fight was about. If they started screaming, they also went outside, that way I didn't have to listen to it. If door got slammed, they got taken off the hinges and they only got them back when they showed to me that they could control themselves. Time out was in a chair within my sight so that I could extend the time if it was need.
By being consistant we didn't have very many repeats!!
Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

sounds like there is more going on in his life that you aren't aware them and see what is going on....the younger one needs supervision....he doesn't know how to communicate, so acts out like this. Sit down and talk to him....maybe the big brothers pick on him sneekily and he's not old enough to react by telling you what's going on.



answers from Minneapolis on

Honestly - it sounds crazy but get ear plugs and try to ingore it! Once they realize it is not working to frazzle you it will decrease. At first with my kids they did it more. I tell them I will not respond to them unless they are clam and then stick to it. I had to lock myself in the bathroom and say that many times - now I just say the word calm and they talk to me instead.

Also - go to the library and check out the video 1-2-3 magic - it is a lifesaver for that very thing!!!!!

Good luck



answers from Appleton on

How about an experiment? You and the love of your life team up to give the kids a real life demonstration of how their "crazy" behavior looks, feels and sounds. The adults will creatively manufacture some situations over the next week where they will have some arguments, engage in tantrums with each other in living color and with surround sound. The acting needs to be so good that the kids believe it and wonder what has gotten into mom and stepdad. They are embarrassed, scratching their heads and maybe shocked at the behavior. At the appropriate time, you will tell them this is how they are acting and then you will demand that they knock it off -- there is no other option. It is a version of homeopathic medicine -- part of the disease diluted down and reintroduced becomes the cure. Sometimes I need to see my crazy behavior to know how other people are seeing it. Give it a try and let me know how it works. Good luck!



answers from Milwaukee on

The book "Sibling Rivalry" by Faber & Maslitch I have found extremely helpful.



answers from Minneapolis on

I think a lot of sibling rivalry is about getting Mom or Dad's attention. It's jealousy that one of their brothers gets more of your time or attention than they do. Give them positive attention when you can - when things get negative and other measures don't work - put yourself in time out! Go to your room, quietly, no yelling, no door slamming. Let them hash it out and tell them you'll come out when they stop. 1-2-3 Magic suggested by someone else IS GOOD. Other parenting books about sibling rivalry would be a start as well. There's a show on channel 4 - the Nanny or something like that - Mon. or Tues. nights - try to sit down as a family and watch that sometime.



answers from Minneapolis on

It sounds like the stress of the older two screaming and yelling is rubbing off on your youngest and he seems to think that's how you deal with those situations. He sees the older ones screaming and thinks that's how to deal with things.

I have seen this same thing with another family I know where there are a couple of older kids and then the younger one. IT seems to escallate through the older ones and then the younger one starts to do it and it spreads through the's like a virus....

I've also seen my 2 year old do things - over react to things and scream and yell...I know he gets that from seeing me do it sometimes and its something I am trying to be more aware of and try not to do.

I would sit with the older kids and have a conversation with them about how thier actions and behaviors are rubbing off on the younger child and he's having difficulty dealing with it. Help them understand that their brother is learning by watching them. Ask them for suggestions of better ways to deal with their anger and fustration and maybe impelment them as a family.



answers from Milwaukee on

Wow M.
Know what that brings to mind?? A story by the Bierinstein Bears(sp?) The one about manners. Mama Bear ends up making a list of what happens when certain behaviors are done. Pushing and shoving people cleans the cellar, complaining people clean the bathrooms, etc. Wonder if that would work for you?? Remember, everyone would need to participate.
Maybe anyone who screams does 20 pushups, jumping jacks, or other.....?
Good Luck!!



answers from St. Cloud on

Hi M.,

First of all, in your defense, I want to say that I am quite sure you do not work 2 jobs (1 FT and 1 PT) because you love it. You are doing it to help support your family and their well being. It is tough times in this economy and you have a large family to take care of. But, please do go ahead and correct me if I am wrong!

On the screaming issue. If your kids are in daycare, I would check in with them to see if they are getting the same behavior. The daycare is the best ally for the working mom! Get on the same page about how to handle the screaming so their is consistancy there and at home.

It takes two to tango, right? In fairness, I would discipline not only your 4 year old, but your 10 year old (or whoever else is in on it) as well. Sometimes the older ones can make themselves out to look like angels, especially if you didnt see the whole thing unfold!

I love the idea about having them do jobs around the house. This doesnt cost you anything and helps everyone. I am sure you are quite tired after working and could use this extra help around the house, just as they could use the character building experience. Do you have them doing jobs on a regular basis now? If not, I would get started! It will take up some of their time and keep them out of trouble. Even your 4 year old is capable of some small tasks.

When my 8 and 2 year old fight she usually screams (because she needs my attention to Intervene.) I ask what happened and both say the other one started it. Both of them either get time out or my 8 year old gets a job to do and my 2 year old gets time out until everyone can play nicely again.

Good luck & Take Care,



answers from Wausau on


This is what I did when my kids would fight, Believe me it worked. They are all now adults with children of there own, and still tell me how they hated it. but, they all do the same with there kids.

Every time they fight I made the ones fighting sit on the sofa and hold hands with NO TALKING for five minutes. If they talked it was another five minutes. After the first time all I had to say is "do you want to hold hands?" and the fighting would stop.
As for the screaming, My opinion is that your son knows how much it bothers you so when you send him to his room or what ever has does it to make you angry they way you made him angry. Again this is my opinion but I think if you no longer acknowledge the screaming it will stop after he realizes that you are not going to get angry because of it. Even if it really does make you angry DON'T let him know it does. Just walk away from him like it never happened.

I hope this helps.

Blessings To you
S. Blevons
Langlade Co. WI.

The beauty of my body is not measured by the size of the clothes it can fit into, but by the stories that it tells. I have a belly and hips that say, "We grew a child in here," and breasts that say, "We nourished life." My hands, with bitten nails and a writer's callus, say, "We create amazing things."
-Sarah, from I am Beautiful: A Celebration of Women in Their Own Words



answers from Minneapolis on

Put a price tag on it. Fighting costs $2, how are you going to pay for it? Cash, toys or work?
I'd put higher tags on repeat offenses. But if you yell back, he will keep it up. Staying calm helps a bunch.
"Oh, you are fighting, get your $2 for me, will that be cash, a toy or a chore?" "Wow, you just screamed at me, son, you owe another $3, please go get your payment."
Keep adding it up until it quits and then take the payment. Toys are used, so don't take new value, take yard sale value.



answers from St. Cloud on

Hi M.,
My suggestion is to have a "family meeting" & tell them the rules have changed, that no one touches anyone else in a negative manner & that the volume of your household will remain at a decent level. This is your home NOT a wrestling tournament, then systematically start taking away things they love & enjoy, (ex. toys, t.v., video games, treats, 'hanging out' with friends). I always tell my guys, "it is MY way, there is NO highway option! (I love The Pacifier!) You can ask them also if they have any suggestions on how you all can help to reach this goal, if that starts the arguing, make a box & tell them to write or draw it on a piece of paper, & put it in the box, then talk to them individually. Anyway, I hope this helps. Good Luck!!

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