How to stop the screaming?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Linda0213, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. Linda0213

    Linda0213 ' adoptive mom

    New to this forum, but soooo glad to have found it.

    We believe our 7-yr-old daughter (aka difficult child) will soon be diagnosed with ODD... all of the behaviors fit to a T, but the most disruptive one is that she SCREAMS when frustrated or angry -- and it doesn't take much for either emotion to come into play.

    She is generally able to keep it together at school, church, and other public places, and even at home when guests are around, but otherwise it is the Screaming Mimi Show. We haven't found a good strategy for dealing with it. Even when we work to help her with the frustrating situation, there's still lots of screaming.

    Any suggestions???
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there and welcome.
    Does she have any other "different" behaviors? ODD rarely stands alone. How was her early development, such as speech, strong eye contact with strangers, ability to interact with same-age peers, motor skills (gross and fine), cuddling? Is she sensitive to loud noise, light, crowds? Can she transition from one activity to another well?
    Are there any psychiatric problems or substance abuse on either side of her family tree?
    Is she going to have a neuropsychologist evaluation? If not, this is the kind I highly recommend. It is the longest and most intensive and usually the most accurate. My son had a ten hour evaluation and it was well worth it.
    It is hard to tell you how to handle the screaming without knowing why she does it and right now you don't have a clear diagnosis. All of our kids have or had ODD behaviors, but that isn't the reason behind those behaviors.
    I do think buying "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene would be helpful while you wait for an evaluation. Welcome again! Sorry you had to come though.
  3. maril

    maril New Member

    I am sorry to hear your daughter is feeling so frustrated and angry. MidwestMom offers good points and suggestions to which I have nothing to add but would like to second her suggestion to read "The Explosive Child." It is one book that has been very helpful for me -- puts things into perspective, is an eye opener, and the doctor makes a lot of sense when it comes to helping children with explosive behavior.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I agree about reading the book. It could give you some good strategies, regardless of what label your child is given.

    A few thoughts to consider - see if you can take some notes, maybe make a list. What triggers her screaming? How do people react to it (including you)? What happens next?

    If she is screaming like this at 7, then she is getting reinforced somehow. Exactly how she is getting reinforced may not be immediately obvious. But observing and taking notes can help you find out how, so you can try to "flip the switch" in a different direction.

    I noticed a family today (local art exhibition). The child would have been maybe 4 years old, was running around being a bit of a pain, was making me a bit anxious for some of the art work (fragile ceramics and other sculptures among te paintings). I watched thiskid running, apparently trying to get a reaction from his mother. And the kid was squealing, that really high-pitched, penetrating scream that you HAVE to notice, not the sort of thing you can ignore in an otherwise quiet gallery.

    What I noticed - the mother was apparently accepting this behaviour as normal and acceptable. And it didn't stop. It just kept going. From the sound of the kid, he was bored and tired, making sure he was letting his mother know.

    I didn't observe them for long enough to be able to say if what she was doing was right or wrong, although I suspect "wrong" because there could so easily have been an expensive disaster which she may have thought she could just walk away from (no way). As they were leaving, she casually called to him and he ran along behind her, still screaming and whining while she continued to ignore the noise.

    The impression I got in his case - he makes these noises trying to get her attention, and in thiscase ignoring it isn't really working because he's just ramping it up.

    However, as I said I can't be sure. Every case is different.

    Observing is going to be the best way to work out where it's coming from and finding the key to turning this behaviour around.

    Good luck.

  5. shad16_12

    shad16_12 Member

    Hi Linda...

    Have you tried any positive behaviour modifications? A reward system for not screaming for said amount of time...start off with a short period an hour then give her a a marbel to put in jar. When she reaches a certain amount of marbles there's a reward. Something she likes to do like computer time or stickers...some little box with dollar store items that she can choose from. Or if you see a situation arise where shed normally lose it and she doesnt then she earns a reward. You also will have to replace the behaviour with acceptable ones. Let her know what is OK. She may hit a pillow...or color a piece of paper aggressively with a crayon. Run around the yard...Squeeze a stress ball. Whatever works for your home. The idea is to gradually increase the time in between rewards to eliminate or reduce the behaviour until you no longer need them.

    You could try to ignore the behaviour. Let her know that you will not pay any attention to her until it stops. Everyone has to do their best to pretend she's not even there...If she's doing it to get your attention, it should work. If she's sreaming because its doing something for her then you will have to give her alternatives because the behaviour is giving her the reward...whether you give her attention or not...may not matter to her at the time.
  6. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Sounds much like my daughter. Holds it together, but lets it all out when home, especially with me or husband.

    Are you taking her to a neuropscyh or a neurodevelopmental psychologist? If not, you probably need to start there. It could be one thing or multiple things.

    I would also suggest cutting out food coloring and corn syrup, as these are aggitators.

    It would be helpful if you would go to the User CP and edit signature to add a signature. Something simple, with no identifiers....just so we can keep track of who you are as you post more.

    Welcome to the board.
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Linda, welcome.
    You've gotten some great ideas and input here.
    My son, although he could speak, screamed and pointed a LOT when he was little. I'm not sure exactly when it stopped, but I was totally worn out. In addition, his scream was not a normal scream. It was extremely high pitiched and wailing and irritating. I don't hear many like that!
    Now that he talks, it is SO much easier!
    So, I would work on rewarding her for using words. What does she like? Stickers? Candy? I'm all into bribes. (Bad Mom!)
    Also, you've got to be consistent. That's one place where we had, and still have issues. If something doesn't work once, don't give up. It make take wks or months.
    Glad you found us!
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Often, though, our kids don't respond to normal behavioral incentives. It's worth a try, but don't be that surprised if she needs something else--and more interventions than what would work for children without disorders. Good luck!
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Linda, maybe you could pick just one frustrating situation and work with-it for a while, instead of tackling them all.
    Just a thought.
  10. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You have received some good advice. I just wanted to welcome you and say I'm glad you found us. You are so not alone and will fine much support here! One important thing is to be sure to be taking care of you. Hopefully you and your husband are able to find some alone and together (just you and husband) time.

    Hugs, and again welcome!
  11. Linda0213

    Linda0213 ' adoptive mom

    Thanks to everyone who shared their experiences and suggestions. I have, in fact, read The Explosive Child and found it somewhat helpful... but frankly didn't seem sustainable for us. We've also discovered that incentives (like stickers, treats, etc) make zero impression of our difficult child, *and* punishments (like losing TV privileges) are much the same.

    We have an appointment with a child psychiatrist in a few weeks and I'm also consulting my own psychologist - who is a specialist in child development. The best advice I've received so far is the one about NEVER losing my cool, since this does seem to be what our difficult child thrives on.

    One other note: we are in contact with the adoptive parents of one of her other full siblings, and they've shared that this blood brother has even more challenging issues. We suspect that their birth mother has several undiagnosed mental disorders in addition to drug addiction, so it's possible we're just slogging through the quicksand to keep our kids above the danger zone.

    [ Part of my emotional exhaustion is dealing with our difficult child *and* my partner's bipolar condition at the same time. ]

  12. Alttlgabby

    Alttlgabby New Member

    She is generally able to keep it together at school, church, and other public places, and even at home when guests are around, but otherwise it is the Screaming Mimi Show. We haven't found a good strategy for dealing with it. Even when we work to help her with the frustrating situation, there's still lots of screaming.

    Any suggestions???

    Yep, get her a good Psychiatrist. She sounds like my daughter who is severely depressed, has anxiety, and bi polar type symptoms. She was just fine around other people as well, but at home, all hell broke loose! I could stand there and ask her very nicely to please turn her music down or whatever, and she would start screaming at me that it was HER room, HER computer, etc... and how she didn't have to turn her GD music down! Oh yeah... I know you are having a really great time with your daughter. Take a deep breath though to keep your sanity. I feel for you!