16 answers

5 Yr Old Not Listening & Talking Back to Authority

My ordinarily sweet and agreeable son is now talking back to teachers and other adults, or just plain old not listening and I would love some advice on how to handle it. We spent the last w/e without ANY of his normal earned privileges (no tv, video games, or treats) and I thought it helped, but here it is Friday & he's making trouble @ school again. I would take away all privileges again, but he has gone w his father for the w/e & it's sure to be a w/e of fun& games as they will be attending 2 bday parties, hockey & soccer...and that's just tomorrow! Any advice on what to do when he talks back would be greatly appreciated.

What can I do next?

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I would first be a little leery that maybe these weekends are where he's picking up an attitude.
In any case, I will again offer the idea of a martial arts class. If you're in the Brighton, Milford, South Lyon, Ypsi, or Northville areas, let me know. Wonderful taekwondo program and I'm a 16 year karate mom with 3 black belt sons, second degree. And one of the lessons is that disruptiveness, disrespectfulness comes with push ups. The class teaches self discipline, puts the responsibility on the child to learn stuff. And I've seen some extremely disrespectful stuff go through the class and either straighten up or disappear because they refuse to conform. I gave my kids push ups at home after starting this, and although they aren't model citizens, they are respectful of people.

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Negative attention is still attention. The best thing to do is ignore it and only respond or reward him when he is being respectful. That being said, I know how hard it is to be berated by a five-year-old and how tempting it is to just give in and temporarily stop the maddness.
There could be a bazzillion different reasons - video games, other kids at school, over-tired, resentful or confused about the divorce or just testing boundaries. It's hard to know. If you are truly concerned or aren't sure you can keep your cool and not play into it, you might want to look onto counseling. It's a great opportunity for kids to open up to a neutral party and learn to express themselves in a more appropriate way.

Also - just a thought from my experience....
Our kids are typically extremely well behaved, polite and respectful. They are, however, kids and go through phases. When I step back and take a look at the whole picture, even at their worst, they are angelic compared to many. I think we are more sensitive to out of character behavior when it is such a significant change from what we have come to expect. When one of our kids is spiraling toward a tantrum we just scoop them up and give them a huge squeeze (Hug your way happy, as my husband calls it). It gives everyone involved a chance to regroup and lightens the atmosphere enough that we can talk through it in a positive, civil way.

Whatever is going on, I'm sure you will find a way to reach out and work through it. Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful

I would first be a little leery that maybe these weekends are where he's picking up an attitude.
In any case, I will again offer the idea of a martial arts class. If you're in the Brighton, Milford, South Lyon, Ypsi, or Northville areas, let me know. Wonderful taekwondo program and I'm a 16 year karate mom with 3 black belt sons, second degree. And one of the lessons is that disruptiveness, disrespectfulness comes with push ups. The class teaches self discipline, puts the responsibility on the child to learn stuff. And I've seen some extremely disrespectful stuff go through the class and either straighten up or disappear because they refuse to conform. I gave my kids push ups at home after starting this, and although they aren't model citizens, they are respectful of people.

1 mom found this helpful

My ordinarily sweet and agreeable granddaughter is doing the same thing. She was even sent home from school one day because of her bahavior. I don't know what the answer is but I have been putting her in a bedroom and telling her that she can't come out until the bad behavior stops. It usually takes 5-10 minutes but it does stop. I am hoping that eventually she gets the picture. Being consistent is the key and like yours, she goes to her dad's for fun and game weekends and comes back to her mom and it's hard getting her into the routine again. I am going to try and find a website for Nanny 911 and see what they say to do.

1 mom found this helpful

I've read an excellent book called How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and How to Listen so Kids will Talk - Faber/Mazlich that might help you get him to talk about his feelings. If you express it to him that its a problem (ask if he can see why its a problem and explain why you think its a problem) and ask him to help come up with some solutions, he can get some of that control he needs and wants. With my sons rewards go further than deprivation. If he isn't already limited on tv and video time, its a great item to use as reward! The hard thing is not taking it personal. Your a good mom and you show that by asking for advise. Definitely discuss it with his dad if you trust him to work with you and not react.

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Hi E.,
Just some thoughts for you. I am a mom of 4 children and this is what came to mind when I read your situation. It is so tough on a child when their parents are divorced. It is like they have been ripped in half. I know because my parents were divorced. Sometimes they don't know how to express their anger properly and could quite possibly be very angry at mom and dad for splitting up and this is how they are dealing with it, by being angry at other adults. This could possibly be his way of getting some extra attention if maybe he is not being fulfilled in some areas of his life. You are a divorced mom and that can't be easy on you either. Our response is to just try to deal with the distasteful behavior and punish them instead of going a little deeper. I've been there before many times. Maybe you need to just sit down with him and talk about his feelings he may be having. One more thing that came to mind is what kind of video games is he playing? I know that when my two boys have played fighting and violent games too much they become much more aggressive and talk back. Too much time playing on these video games is really unhealthy emotionally and physically.
I am just sharing all my thoughts with you whether they fit your situation or not. Here is just one more thing to consider. How do you respond to him when you get angry? Do you yell, speak harsh, say anything that might hurt his self-esteem? I have learned so much over the years with my 4 children. It sure wasn't easy, but I learned that my children ususally act out what they have learned from me and it was a BIG eyeopener for me to really examine my behavior. Just keep loving this little precious son of yours. Dad and mom in two different places is so hard for a child. One more thought..........Don't overstimulate your child's central nervous system by caffeinated drinks and sugar. This also causes so many problems in kids today. I sure hope some of this has helped. One best thing I have learned to do in all these years being a mom is to...Take it to the Lord in prayer. He will help you and your son if you ask.
Blessings E. and I hope it all turns out well for the both of you. R.

How long have you been divorced? It could be one reason he is acting up. He doesn't know how to express his confusion or his anger and is taking it out on the teachers.

Teachers see so much because they have them for such a long period of the "awake" time of the day. If he isn't sleeping well, it could also be effecting things.

Take a note pad and for 2 weeks, write down what time he went to bed, what did he eat, did he go with dad, did he act up in school and see if there is a pattern. Once you figure out what the pattern is, you might be able to target the problem and come up with a solution.

Also, look at people in school or on the bus. I know my niece was only in 1st grade last year and HATED her teacher. She was very nasty to all the kids and so my niece started to wet the bed. It lasted off and on for the school year. Once school was out, the wetting stopped and hasn't happened since.

She was crying out and didn't know how .. they are very sensitive at that age. Good you are acting on it and not allowing it to happen.

I hope you find the solution quickly.

Hi E.! I am a single mother of 3 and one of them is 5 and goes to her Dad's for the fun and games on the weekends too. I know this makes it hard on us as full time parents because our children see our home as work, chores, and rules. If you and Dad have a good relationship, maybe suggest to him that on his weekends, he tone down the fun and spend quality time with his son doing things around the house. Because the other parent doesn't have the child as much as we do, they are able to get there tasks done without delay and put aside time to spend with the kids, we on the other hand cannot, we live normally and don't have the down time they do.
Acting up? Did it really just start or are you noticing more now? My 5 year old has been sassy for quite some time but I am noticing more now because she has worked her way up to being really sassy. She has gotten away with it for so long that she has over time worked her way up. I have made some changes as of Fri and plan to see if the changes I made help.

There's probably 2 things going on. First, he's trying to assert some independence, and going about it by talking back, and 2, he's dealing with the fact that his parents are divorced. The main thing you and your ex need to do, if at all possible is communicate, and be on the same page with discipline and punishment, whether he is with you for the weekend, or dad. When theres one set of rules for a child to deal with on weekends, then another set at home, and yet another at school, he can easily get confused and act out. I've seen both sides of parents working together with the kids, my ex and his wife carried out punishments I gave to our kids and vice versa, while my husbands ex let their kids off for things if it happened at dads house, and let time at dads house be 'free time' His girls got into more trouble than mine, and his youngest still has authority issues at 21. It's hard for dads to have their kids for a weekend and have them be under punishment, but if your boy is acting out like this, he needs dad to step up also and let him know it's not ok. You just need to be on the same basic page, even if dad doesn't carry out punishment, he needs to let him know the behavior is not acceptable, wherever your son is. Also, ask the school to test him using the conner scale, which is ADHD, ADD, and ODD, (oppositional defiance disorder), just to make sure theres nothing going on there. Good luck!

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