Talking Back and Screaming from an 8 Yr Old

Updated on March 23, 2012
M.M. asks from Tucson, AZ
17 answers

My 8 yr old daughter has been talking back and screaming at me for the last year.
I've taken things away from her. I count her to 3 and then do it or i send her to her room for 8 minutes at the third count.
I've taken away ipad, tv for a week bc she used the "f" word at me, desert, girl scouts, chior, playdates, ect.
TOday i was trying to help her with a math problem and she just started getting attitude and screaming at me. Everytime i'd try to say something she 'd talk over me and kept getting louder even after i told her to be quiet and just listen .
I'm going to have her write down 50 times "I will not scream or talk back to my parents."
WHat else can i do with this child? She has no respect for me at all. She does the same thing with her dad. She is mean to her 3 yr old sister and will hit her as hard as she can.
I have taken her to a behavioral therapist when she was 5, but it was $70 bucks a session. I can't afford that right now.
She was doing a lot better then last year her dad left and we are divorcing and it started up again.
I'm just so tired of her. I stay home with her 3 yr old sister and 10 month old brother and we have a wonderful time and then she comes home and she is nasty to everyone. Its not fun to be around her anymore i dont know what to do.

Please only nice suggestions or helpful comments. What else can i do to get her to respect me?

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answers from New York on

I'm with Cheryl, too. If I ever did that to my mother my feet would be dangling two inches off the floor and she would be about three centimeters from my face! I loved my parents dearly, but I also had a little fear of them, too. I knew if I got too far out of line I was going to be in trouble. I've sat in the room that Cheryl speaks of! Plain and simple, you have to stand up to her and let her know you're the mother, and you're the boss. Whatever is going on in the house doesn't negate that fact. Nip it now because in a few years you won't be able to.

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answers from Flagstaff on

Although I'm sure your recent divorce has something to do with her behavior, my daughter also went through a yelling phase at 8 years old. She did grow out of it by about 10, and now she's a caring teen who rarely yells unless she gets really upset.

I know how frustrated you feel. Try giving her extra love from you, and keep your own voice low so she has a good example to follow. Let her know that it is okay to feel frustrated, but yelling at you does not help solve the problem and only increases the problem. Give her the words to deal with a situation when she feels frustrated. Encourage her to use "I feel" statements..."I feel ______ when you ________ because ___________." Post this on the wall if need be. She will learn to communicate how she is feeling and why so that you can better meet her emotional needs.

Lastly, when she does yell, tell her that you will talk to her when she is calm again and IMMEDIATELY send her to a place where she can calm down. That will help you to keep your head while going through this tough time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

This post hurts my heart. Please get yourselves to family counseling, ASAP.

Punishing her into oblivion won't change how she's feeling right now. It may serve to drive other bad behavior underground, and it can make her hate herself. She may not be cognitively able to understand that you still love her when she's getting 'unacceptable' messages from you. She's likely furious that you are getting divorced--her world, her family, is falling apart. From what you said, she may have already had some struggles in expressing herself in healthy ways? This can only be a further setback. Some kids hold up really well and don't show their pain. Some kids put on a good face to make the parents feel okay with things. Find a family counselor who offers a sliding scale fee and get some help. This may be a hardship, but it's a long term investment in your family and in your daughter. She's bound to have picked up on your upset, disappointment and frustration with her behavior and interpreted it as a lack of acceptance of her person. These are two different things, the behavior and the self, but it's easy for kids to confuse them. (and us, too.)

I'm sorry I don't have anything better to offer. But I've been that kid-- a kid going through the life-changing adjustment of divorce. While my acting out was not of the shouting kind, I was punished constantly for six years (grounding, loss of privileges/social activities, spanked and worse) , which took a serious toll on my development. You can't punish a child into feeling better about themselves and their situation. No one wanted to listen to the fact that the divorce deeply hurt me. It took a lot of time for me to work this out as an adult and to feel like a whole person. If you truly absolutely can't afford counseling, talk to the school counselor or psychologist. She needs support. If she's screaming at you over the things you describe, it sounds like she's very overwhelmed and angry.

Perhaps this is a more sympathetic view than most people would have, but consider it this way: we are adults.We have WAY more perspective than kids do, and still, during our divorces, our own worlds are falling apart. Kids are often very sensitive to these changes, plus they are absolutely powerless to make any changes to the things that are breaking their hearts. Counseling and support is the right thing to do for your entire family. Please get some help. With all the transitions you are going through, having an ally in helping your family ( a counselor) will be much-needed support, and your daughter will have someone besides you and her father to whom she will be accountable. Believe me, that's a very under-valued facet of family counseling; feeling like you have someone on your side, who wants you to do well. You deserve some support and I hope your family comes through this okay.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

This sounds like the perfect time for you to read Kevin Lehman's "Have A New Kid By Friday". You are at the point where you need to pull the rug out from under this behavior NOW. The book is not long at all...2/3 of it is scenarios, a playbook, if you will, with great ideas for dealing with this type of behavior using "reality discipline" (aka natural consequences). In short, he would tell you it's time to whip out the "Vitamin N" - for NO - at every turn. Don't do ANYTHING for her. Don't take her anywhere or include her until she starts behaving like a respectful member of the family. Rock her world by nipping all of the entitlement right in the bud. She goes nowhere and does nothing until she can behave properly.

You don't need to be snippy or petty w/her when using "vitamin N" keep calm and be matter-of- fact. Say it, turn your back and walk away.

DD: Mommy, can I have / go / do...?
You: No, sweetie. <Turn and walk away>
DD: Why not?!
You: I don't like the way you screamed at me in the car. You know we don't talk to each other like that, so no, we're not going until you can talk respectfully and kindly.
DD: Ok, sorry! Can I go now?
You: I appreciate that, but no. We can try again tomorrow.

Stick to your guns and allow each day to be a new start. If she throws a tantrum, relocate her to her room and tell her she can come out when she's ready to behave like a part of the family. If she throws a tantrum in public, leave IMMEDIATELY. This is going to be a pain but she needs to get the message.

Be consistent. Be strong. It's worth it...try to imagine what the teen years will be like if she doesn't get a grip now. You can do it!

ETA: I don't mean to sound unsympathetic about the divorce or anything else that's concerning her, but the fact is, there are acceptable ways to express yourself healthfully and there are others that aren't. You can't make any positive headway with her before breaking through the behavior, so I would start there. I also agree about the food...additives, colors, etc can have a dramatic effect on some children's behavior. Also, make sure she's getting enough rest. My son is a different kid altogether when he's tired...everything is so much worse.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I absolutely agree with Cheryl B. You have to set the boundaries with your daughter, so she understands in no uncertain terms who is in charge. Boundaries are actually what teach children what to expect and what is expected of them. And 1-2-3...she has three opportunities to scream and have her way, but the point you're making is the you don't want her to do it at all, so that is never ever going to fulfill your goal.

Take back control now or your younger ones will see that it's OK to act the way she is, and then what? Setting boundaries and an example with your oldest will be so much easier than trying to deal with all three behaving this way.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My daughter is 8 and working on developing a mouth. She is shot down everytime. My husband and I have both come close to popping her in the mouth...getting close enough to her to do it was enough for her to zip it, apologize, and correct her behavior. If ANY of my kids EVER cursed at me, they'd get a spanking just as nice as they would if they ran in a parking lot - I don't care how old.

It does sound like she's having trouble with the split.

Talk to her school counselor. That is free and can help.

I wish you luck. I know my 8 year old can be a challenge too.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

You know, I think this is a really tough age. My son recently turned 9, so I'm right there.

I think at this age, they are really trying to be "heard."

We spend years telling them what to do, where to go, what to wear, what to say and I see this as a transitional period to a more independent state.

I have to say, I just spent the BEST evening with my son, doing some errands, grabbing dinner, laughing and he a perfect kid 100% of the time? No. No O. is.

Try to do things together with her...acting as a team...on the same adventure of sorts. Something you wouldn't normally do together. Praise her when she acts responsibly and respectfully and tell her how nice it is to be around her.

Her world is rocked at the core. I think the suggestion to talk to the guidance counselor is an excellent O..

Re-read your 2nd to last paragraph. I know you don't want to be that kind of mom or feel that way about your own child.

Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

She is having a hard time with the divorce, I'm sure. But, that is not an excuse for bad behavior.
If you are trying to help her with a math problem and she gets loud, just walk away. Say nothing. Just walk away.
If she hits, she sits. No counting. No chances.
If she can't be polite, she can sit in the corner or she can go to her room - which should have no electronics in it whatsoever...
Contact the school and ask for help.
When my kids were younger, I had a routine for them after school. They'd get home and have to run around the house 10 times. It burned excess energy, tired them out a little bit, and gave them a chance to "zone" out a bit.
You might try that.
You might also consider Karate for her. It will teach her self respect, respect for others, and self control - as well as self defense. It will also give her an outlet for her frustrations.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Being a parent is a hard job. We try so hard to do the right thing. I have two teen boys and have been through similar phases. I use time outs to calm things down. I take away privileges. I make contracts and reward good behaviors. The most important things I have learned with two very different boys is that it won't work if I am not 100% consistent with what I choose to do no matter how much energy it takes. Both of my boy have at one time or another been in a power struggle with me and ended up losing privileges for a month one day at a time. It went something like this. I have told you what the rules are and you have choosen to break them. I have warned you and given you time outs. Now you are choosing to lose privileges. "I don't care I am leaving you are mean" Ok, you have lost your privileges for the rest of the day and that includes........
"I dont care I am leaving" repeat,repeat until one month was gone. I held tight. And after a week of no privileges I allowed him to earn back some time by doing things on a list, like play a nice game with his brother, help his brother with something, help me, help a neighbor. But it was much harder to earn back days. I was just desperate to find a way to refocus thing positively. It worked and he never lost privileges for a month again. I tried that with my other son and he gave up after a week but he had to sit at the kitchen table or he would wander off and accidently engage in a privilege. To this day he has to sit at the table when he loses his privileges. He also has to lay down on the floor if he starts slamming things around out of anger until he can calm down. It is so important to make the behavior the issue and not your frustration or anger. So dig down deep and stay calm. You can take a time out too if you want. Try to remain positive and reward any positive behaviors you like. I always tell them I love them before bed and give them a chance to talk to me calmly.

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answers from New York on

Have you tried the silent treatment? Show lots of affection and pride in her when she's well behaved or just decent. When she's yelling etc, just act sad and disappointed in her and ignore her. Not sure if this is approved by the medical community but I know with my parents, feeling their disapproval and disappointment was more effective than yelling. They didn't have to yell much bc I hated them just being so quiet with me and kind of ignoring me. I've done it with my oldest some and it works great. A friend also does it with her older children with good luck.

btw - with 2 very young siblings and you divorcing, she may need some counseling though. Perhaps the school provides some.

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answers from Redding on

Well, you're going through a divorce and that could have a lot to do with it. However, she needs to know that's not an excuse for her behavior.
If she wants to talk about her feelings, fine, but screaming is not acceptible.

That said, I think that she is far too old for the 1,2,3 thing.
I also think that she is far too old to be getting an 8 minute time out.
The one minute per year of age thing has long gone out the window at this point.
Talk to the school counselor. Contact your local health department to see if you can get into family counseling at low, no cost, or sliding scale.

She's acting out. You can take everything away from her and you can make her write a million times that she won't yell at you, but I don't know that it will work.
You certainly don't have to put up with her disrespect, but you have to find another way to go about engaging her and helping her see that having a different attitude will make HER happier in the long run.

Get some help with her. There is a lot going on with your family dynamics right now. It's my belief that kids want to be good. They want to feel good about themselves and they want routine and structure and boundaries.
I've been through a divorce and it's not easy on kids even if the divorce is for the better.

I wish you the best.

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answers from New York on

While she might be acting out during the div, she still has to respect you. On the other hand, she might need to feel a sense of security. It is not uncommon that kids feel in limbo and do not want to be "deserted" (One parent moved out--Will the other leave, too?) during a break-up, yet discipline is very critical now !

You mentioned that she has been acting out for a year now. She is 8, so you can easily set the expectations. With firm discipline, she will feel security.

Sit her down during a time when things are on the calm side and tell her what is to be expected. Tell her that from now on the rules are no screaming, etc and this is the way it has to be.

Also, have a few minutes each night where you can read with her one-on-one. Let her choose a short book. When you can---- There are many family friendly books for kids on divorce that you can read to her. (Ask your librarian). Introduce these books to let her know that there are other kids and families are like yours. This will help her build her self-image. Let her know that this is a dec Mom and Dad made. (Do not bad mouth your spouse). Each night before bed, tell her that she is special because she ...!

She does not want to be deserted during this process. Tell her that you will be there for her before bed for a bedtime story. This will help w/ security and assist w/ better behavoir.

This will be a rather stressful time for her, yet, the talking back and screaming has to stop.

Make sure that she is getting excercise, a good night's sleep and she is eating well, too.

How is her behavior at school?

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answers from Miami on

She is obvously acting out, Maybe the divorce, school, who knows. First what is she is eating. Certain foods will definitely make what ever her outburst is worse. they do tend to talk back and find a voice as they get older though and you have to pick your fights. There is disrespect and then there is disrespect. Is she this bad at school also? do teachers call she is bullying others or some such. I say I'm sorry when you scream like that it gives me a headache and Ijust cant hear you anymore

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answers from Phoenix on

She may very well be adjusting to the divorce but have you considered or researched ADD or ADHD? Agression is a sign. My son has ADHD and he would have outbursts like this. He wasn't mean but he would get an attitude and yell. He takes medication now and now we are really getting to see what an awesome kid he is. He's 8 too. Good luck.



answers from Jacksonville on

sounds like she is having a hard time all around. Parents are spitting up, sharing parents with 2 other kids............finding herself in a crazy world..........give her some one on one time even if it's just to the movies but each one of you (dad) need to have time with her alone without the other kids.

As far as bad behaviour, both you and hubby need to have the same rules and punishments for it. She is old enough to know right and wrong so no more counting or warnings, it is straight to punishment. Her room shouldn't be the place to serve her time outs either. Pick a wall or a corner and make her stand there facing it for 8 mins. Her room should be a place for her to go and relax and play not be punished.



answers from Tulsa on

Send her to live with dad until she can stop hurting the baby?



answers from Los Angeles on

Unless she has always acted this way I would imagine this is stemming from the divorce. I would seek family therapy if this were my daughter. Also some tough love! I can tell you what my Mom did when I disrespected her - she took away everything in my room. I had a mattress, a military blanket and a few outfits for school of her choosing. I never had a tv or phone of my own anyway but I lost ALL freedom and activities. I was walked straight into the school and picked up after and grounded either to my room or the kitchen table to do homework. My Dad took the door off the hinges. I was allowed to study and read appropriate books and church was the only other place I went. Trust me it only took ONCE to let me know I wasn't going to pop off and disrespect those who controlled my destiny. I have to say though I was older and had no divorce to deal with. I honestly can't even imagine this sort of behavior from one so young! I think she is old enough to be devastated by divorce but not old enough to understand all the reasons behind it. I think she IS disappointed in her parents and she HAS lost respect. I'm not saying you deserve it but that's how I would feel if I were 8 I guess. I think you and Dad and daughter should be in therapy sessions together focusing on HER. I think you also really have to be on the same page with handling her. Her behavior is really alarming!

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