5 Year Old Girl Sassy Behavior

Updated on April 20, 2010
S.M. asks from New York, NY
13 answers

I have a sweet and normal little 5 year old girl who started kindergarten this year. Up until kindergarten she was a very well behaved, sweet little girl who listened well and acted lovingly toward everyone at home including her younger brother and all of her friends. She is very well mannered at school, listens well and is thriving there. However, at home she has begun to talk back, say no and at times screams at her little 3 year old brother and at me, my husband and her babysitter. She will say no, yell at us and behave like a rebellious teenager. If I say no she can't do something like watch TV when it is sunny out or have ice cream before dinner ..she wiill say yes I can and try to do it anyway completely ignoring me. It always ends in a battle and she winds up crying, I ask her to say she is sorry, she says she didn't mean it and then she and I both feel bad. I am sticking to my guns but it is very hard. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to nip this behavior n the bud and get our sweet, respectful, well behaved little girl back? I feel that I am constantly after her, and my husband has begun to lose his patience which does not help. I work, but I work at home only 4 days per week and I have a full time nanny who has been with us for 4 years who the kids love. She gets a lot of attention from all of us so I do not think that is the problem.

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answers from Boston on

No real suggestions, but know you are not alone. You could have described my daughter. I look forward to reading the responses. I hope we don't have to ride it out until after adolescence!

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answers from Boston on

No real suggestions, but know you are not alone. You could have described my daughter. I look forward to reading the responses. I hope we don't have to ride it out until after adolescence!

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answers from Denver on

When my oldest daughter was in Kindergarten, her wonderful, wise, experienced teacher told me that she had to hold herself together all day during school. After all that, she just couldn't anymore once home and needed relief just to let loose. Thank goodness she told me with my 1st...made the 2nd easier and goodness know it's helping with my 4 year old....she's quite the little nut after school!

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answers from New York on

It sounds like you got some great advice already, but I still want to add one more thing. Is it possible that something is wrong at school? Maybe in class she's doing well, but what about socially? Is she REALLY happy with friends? Or, is something else going on? It sounds like you raised a wonderful girl and it sounds strange that she made such a drastic switch. Perhaps she's got something bothering her that she can't express. I would explore the area more. Best of luck.


answers from New York on

when she does, get down to her level, eye to eye and tell her how her behavior is not acceptable and if she does that again she will not like the consequences. Just make sure that if and when it happens again, your time out will make her think about it twice before she even thinks about acting like that again. Start taking privileges away, snacks, playtime, etc.
Sit down with her and talk to her, ask her where has she seen this behavior at? but that it is not acceptable in your house!!! I've always told my children, "you do not see me or your father acting like that, it is because it's not acceptable, so you can't act like that or you'll be punished!
My children are older, so they know better :)


answers from New York on

Dear S., Sounds like you are describing my grand daughter (7) Some of this may come from frustration, jealousy, or just plain "let me see what I can get away with" It seems they go through another terrible two. I am still working on an answer and I find myself asking "what happened to my sweet little girl?" In our case we have a split family and 3 more younger siblings, starting from 3 down. I have also been tough about unacceptable behavior and hope this stage will pass.I raised 5 and do not remember this. Not much help... I would like to see the other posts! Grandma Mary



answers from Boston on

How did my daughter get into your house?

They are testing boundaries and while it looks like they want to win the battle, really they don't. They want to know that you are in charge (and that you love them no matter what.) Just try not to let her get your goat, hard as it is, and don't give in on the important things, because if she wins a point she will just try to score another one so giving in doesn't help.


answers from Austin on

Our 4 year old has started doing this too. So, you're not alone in this struggle. We have noticed that there seems to be a correlation with this attitude and her eating anything with large amounts of sugar beforehand. We've started cutting out sweets and white flour foods to see if that helps.

Good luck.



answers from Pittsburgh on

OK--checking in with comparison to a boy here. My son was like that in K. He was an absolute angel at school and then would cut loose on us all evening. Ugh. This leads me to think it's not a mini PMS thing but an independence Kindergarten thing. They know better than to do it at school! LOL They are learning a LOT more than reading and coloring in Kindergarten!
What we did was implement some predictable consequences for his smart mouth and screaming.
If it's any consolation, my son is better this year than last year.


answers from New York on

Dont' battle with her, that undermines your authority. If she sasses you, make the consequence immediate, whether it's being marched to her room and put in pajamas for bed, or a swat on the bottom. I wouldn't explain or discuss with her. She knows better and I wouldn't even give a warning. How is she watching tv or having ice cream if you've said no? If she goes to the t.v., march her right up to bed. If she goes to the freezer, same thing. If her brother behaves well enough to have these things, then tell her she's confined to her room at his t..v time and let her see him get an ice cream after dinner. It's okay for her to cry, really. Being a parent is being an authority. If you have to ask her to say that she is sorry, then she very well may not be sorry. Getting an apology for bad behavior is not the key, giving a consequence for the behavior is. Sometimes being a parent means being the tough guy (or gal). If you're not showing her who is in charge now, in 10 years when she's my daughter's age, you will have big problems (like some of the parents of kids my daughter knows, whose high schoolers are just out of control) Good luck



answers from Glens Falls on

This answer might seem a little off-base, but how much TV does she watch? My niece watches Hanna Montana and other kid's shows that portray children behaving badly, pouting when they don't get their way, sneaking things when their parents say "no" and overall doing whatever they want whenever they want with no repercussions that a 4-5 year old can understand. After I pointed this out to her mom, and we all started watching these shows, we talked about how such behavior wasn't acceptable in language the toddler could understand.

At this point we started paying attention to the popular kid's shows and what we saw horrified us. So, I'd recommend watching what your kids watch, not just for the entertainment, but to see what they are being taught. Are the shows teaching them its ok to laugh at someone when they are hurt? Are they teaching that its ok to take someone if nobody sees you? Are they teaching that its ok to lie to you, the parents? That its ok to talk back and throw tantrums?

Once we started actually watching the shows and talking about them, my niece's behavior started improving.

Good Luck.



answers from Sarasota on

Mine is exactly that way--the teacher can't believe it, because she's so good at school. I think that they just try all the stuff that's on their mind/tempting/upsetting them at home. I just remind myself to stay steady and not take it personally. By staying steady, I mean sticking to the rules and not getting emotional. It doesn't go so well when I let her make me mad!

Good luck, I'll be checking back for more advice too!



answers from Honolulu on

Yes, girls get like this. Not that it is okay, but they do. ALL my friends who have girls, say the SAME thing.
It is like little mini PMS versions.

One thing you can do is: say "redo." So when she gets sassy or does something wrong, give her the chance to "redo" her actions. Thereby teaching the child that there are other ways of doing something... and it teaches the kid how to CHOOSE another reaction. Or, show/tell her another way of acting/saying what she did wrong. If after 2-3 tries she still does not do it, then put her in her room... and she can "vent" there.
Always emphasize that she try "her best"... because if a child feels they have to be PERFECT, it will not be possible.

Or, you ask her in a calm way, "why" she is acting like that... see what her rationale is or if she has a reason. Many times, like with my kids, they do actually have a reason... no matter how petty it may seem to us adults. Then, help her problem solve it... together. Because a young child still needs assistance with this, and how to cope.

We also teach my girl, that she can have emotions and feel grumpy/yucky... but that she NOT take it out on others, or tell us nicely what is bothering her. Not to just be mean. THAT is not acceptable. We are a FAMILY...

Also, at school, many kids are not so nice... and sassy. So they come home with these influences and behaviors too. Kids are just that way.... especially when frustrated. So teach her the difference... that other kids may act like that and be sassy... but that is NOT proper etc. Teach her that being like other kids who are sassy, is NOT the way to be. But that she can in a nice way, say her own displeasures.

It takes practice.... and is ongoing.

Give her the chance to "redo"... and then a consequence. Be consistent. But if she has a reason for her upset... then you also need to 'hear' her and then gauge the situation and help her cope and problem solve it.

At school as well, they spend ALL day listening to orders, being on task, being "perfect" and it can be REAL tiring for them mentally. When they come home they need to deflate and get it out. Vent and get out their yah-yah's. So, allow for them to unwind after school... and if she feels "stressed" then see that. My girl gets so fussy sometimes after school... she is spent and tired. So I always let her unwind, just gel, and deflate after school.... before i have her do anything or my giving her 'orders' to do... and before she does her homework. I also give her a snack. If not she gets mega fussy.

just some ideas,
all the best,



answers from Albany on

My now 16 year old son was just like that! The minute he started school, where he was told what to do every minute made him rebel. And he continues today, where he is so smart but fails classes due to being unwilling to do or pass in homework. So here is what you can and perhaps don't want to do:

1. Don't have the three of you (nanny, you, and hubby) with different values and rules. Consistency with the rules and consequences is more important than the actual rules and consequences. Your child may need to know exactly where the boundaries are, no fuzzy lines.
2. Follow-through is imperative. Once, my son told my brother-in-law that a reason he didn't follow the rules was because we never punished him with what we said we were going to do, so why bother?
3. Give her more positive comments than negative. Just one negative comment from an authority figure like the teacher can destroy a day.
4. She might be very sensitive, emotionally as well as physically (sensitive to noise, light, clothing, smells, and/or taste). If so, an evaluation by an occupational therapist versed in sensory integration would be in order. My daughter had this, but was not diagnosed until after 6th grade!
5. There may be hidden learning issues, and she may be very smart in some areas, but lasking in others. This was also the case with my daughter. She suffered for years thinking that she was dumb, when actually she had learning disabilities. They show up in 3rd and 4th grade for the kids with the greatest discrepancies. To take a closer look at this, you can visit my website at www.pyramidofpotential.com to read about what can contribute to this, learn, and then be watching over the next couple years.

I've been in your shoes, and the number one thing you CAN do, is love her.

Best of luck to you and your daughter!!


K. Johnson, MS Ed

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