21 answers

6 Year Old Behavior... Ugh!

I have a 6 year old daughter who is in 1st grade, a great student, a very sweet intelligent child and very respectful to everyone she speaks to. She is very well spoken and very social. She and I have lots of us time together! She always tell me no and yells back at me. I am a full time working mom and my hubby is an over the road truck driver. She is the youngest of my kids the others being 13, 15, & 17. However she is rude and talks back to to mom. Talks back, yells at everyone including her brother and sisters. Anyone having those problems or can give me any advice.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well I have listened to everyone's advice. I have sat in on many classes before and we have a na excellent repoir at school, great teacher excellent people that we work with at school. I do work in the school often. We began a positive reinforcement technique using her counting bears as tokens. At the end of the week after doing good things all week she will get .25 cents for each bear. She can also lose bears by misbehaving. We also made a deal that I would not holler at her and she does not holler at me. When she hollers she gets 1 warning to not talk to me that way. If it persists she looses a bear. She is already worrying about loosing bears. The weekend was much better than it has been. I know many peopel have addresses whether we spend enough her and I time together and we do every week each child has a special outing with mom. I also play games and watch movies with her during the week. WE also do things as a family every week. Thanks again for all the suggestions!

Featured Answers

I know a lot of people going through this at this age but you MUST set rules and follow through punishments. I say that but I must admit I let more slide then should. but most of the time I have my son write 25 times I will respect my mom. I then talk to him about it and ask him how he would like it if his dad talk to his Grandma that way? We dont talk that way to eachother.

Oh my gosh that sounds like my seventeen year old son's behavior! Talks back, argues with us all the time. I hope someone has some advice that will cover both ages. People are always telling me how nice he is. I hope he doesn't stay like this. Maybe different ages but maybe something works in both cases. Ugh.
Update: Just read some of that advice. I am going to try the not yelling back thing, I seem to escalate with this son, but didn't have the same problem with my older son. I'll try that and get back on that in a couple of weeks. See if that works, also.

More Answers

Hi D.,

my middle child (almsot 10) is like this sometimes when she comes back from her dad's house.

Basically, what we do is remind her firmly that she WILL be respectful or suffer the consequences. If she calls names (she called her sister an idiot for leaving their shared bathroom to give her privacy while she went to the bathroom - obviously her sister was being respectful of her privacy) she gets a 'pleasure item' taken away; computer, guitar hero, nintendo DS, Hannah Montana show, etc.

Your daughter needs to learn that she cannot be disrespectful to you or others in her family. I would suggest finding out why she finds it so easy to hurt people who love her, and see what's bothering her. 'something' has to invoke this behavior... find out what it is.. talk to her - it might take a few times to really get to the bottom of it, but I tell my kids, this is our sanctuary from the rest of the stress out there.. school, mean people, traffic, work... we have to find a way to leave the garbage at the door and find peace here.... if that means you need to tell me how crappy your day was, lets talk over an 'after-school-snack' so you can feel better and get on with being happy to be home with people who love you.

Sometimes i noticed the behavior gets worse because it's allowed to continue... she's used to being abusive, so it will take a little work to get her out of the 'habit'.

stand your ground mama.. good luck


Make your expectations and consequences crystal clear, and FOLLOW THROUGH every time. If you give her an inch, she'll take a mile. In my opinion, speaking disrespectfully to an adult is unacceptable.
However,if she has anger or tension from the day and needs to vent, then let her talk to you about it all AFTER she's shown some respect and/or received a consequence.
And maybe try to set aside some special time for her and you (I know you're busy) to let her know how special she is. (Paint your nails together, read a book).

I feel your pain. My 6 year old can be so ugly at times too. I do not tolerate rude behavior, talking back (even though she still does it). she gets immediate discipline when she does. Sometimes when she smarts off I will reply with "excuse me? Do you want to rephrase that?" If she does ok, if not then it is time outs or privileges taken away. I have heard all the arguments that we Moms should be happy the child is respectful at school and feels comfortable testing the limits at home----yeah right, give me a break! There have been many a day in our house tv rights, candy, bed time reading have been taken away. The smart alek mouth is improving. Good luck!!!

Hey I've got one of those too! My daughter is "the best kid ever, sweet as can be, she must be a wonderful help at home". These are the comments I get from other parents, her teacher, but at home all she does is push my buttons! She goes with the exact opposite of anything I say. The sky is blue, her answer is not it isn't! It is really frustrating and hard to deal with. I think part of it is the fact that personality wise we are very much alike. Another part is that she is trying to get attention, I've got a 5 and 2 yr old also. So I've tried lots of things and I can't say any of it is working perfectly. Yesterday she spent 2 hours in her bedroom because of back talk and screaming at me. The best I can say is don't tolerate it. Not even once. She is trying to see where her boundries are at and how far she can step. Stick to your guns and don't lose heart. If we lose it now it will just make it that much harder when she becomes a teenager (God HELP us!) The plus is I know I'm doing a good job because she does behave so well outside of the house! Good Luck!

Hi D.,
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They have helped me emmensely with my sons issues which were very similar. It sounds to me like maybe your daughter could be angry she doesn't get enough time with you. If this is the case, maybe making a special time to be with just her each day- or maybe a special weekend trip with just the two of you- will help her feel more secure about your relationship and then will be more likely to listen and/or be polite and respectful towards you. I hope that helps.

I know a lot of people going through this at this age but you MUST set rules and follow through punishments. I say that but I must admit I let more slide then should. but most of the time I have my son write 25 times I will respect my mom. I then talk to him about it and ask him how he would like it if his dad talk to his Grandma that way? We dont talk that way to eachother.

Oh my gosh that sounds like my seventeen year old son's behavior! Talks back, argues with us all the time. I hope someone has some advice that will cover both ages. People are always telling me how nice he is. I hope he doesn't stay like this. Maybe different ages but maybe something works in both cases. Ugh.
Update: Just read some of that advice. I am going to try the not yelling back thing, I seem to escalate with this son, but didn't have the same problem with my older son. I'll try that and get back on that in a couple of weeks. See if that works, also.

I recommend seeing a professional homeopathic Dr. She can help get your DD an appropriate attitude adjustment. Homeopathy is a natural medicine that helps with emotional situations. I read a great story about a little girl who had an older sister that she dominated and was mean to, and would throw tantrums, etc. Homeopathy helped her get more into balance and the meanness and tantrums and dominance subsided so much.

We see Dr. Polich at Dupage Homeopathic Ctr in Naperville (www.dupagehomeopathic.com). You can email her to see if homeopathy can help or if it s/b cared for more by a counselor. She even tells me about her own daughter being a happy girl, well balanced, and non-confrontational with her sibling and parents.

I would not yell back, I would nicely say I'm not going to talk to you until you speak to me. If she is a tv watcher I would say I’m not going to let you watch tv until you stop yelling… Take something away from her be strong and don’t feel bad… It could take days, weeks but better to curb her issues now then when she is 15, 16 or 17 and you will not have any control. Let her know who the boss is without yelling or spanking.

Just remeber you are the boss!

I suggest reading the book "1,2,3 Magic". It's a book about how to discipline your child (no spanking involved) and get results pretty quick. I've been using the method with my daughter with great results. Good luck!

Tell her to apologize or stand in the corner for 6 minutes (1 minute for each year of age she is). Tell her it's wrong for anybody to talk to eachother that way. Make sure the teens are following the rules so the little one learns because she'll do whatever they do.

D., children's behavior is a cry for help. I suggest you not put a tag on it of mean, nasty, or whatever. Find out what is troubling her.

A good way to do that is to play dolls with her, letting her do most of the talking. Have them replicate your family structure - mother, father, and whatever configuration your family is - 3 female children or 2 - female children and 1 - male child (etc).

Or if she does not like dolls, get a family of animals. They don't have to be expensive or large - the size of doll house figures.

Somewhere in the play, have the mother doll tell how she misses her husband who is traveling a lot for work. Play out the dynamics of the family. See what she says. Don't correct her, be an observer.

Good luck, M.
Former Professional Counselor

D. - Let me preface this by saying I have no experience to base my suggestion on, just a little bell that went off in my head when I read your question. (I am the mother of a 1 year-old).

I've been reading a book called "Playful Parenting" by Lawrence J. Cohen (because reading parenting books is what first-time parents do to make themselves feel better about the fact that they don't know what the hell they're doing). He's very ga-ga about playing with your kids...especially in ways that let them lead.

Have you thought about having a little playtime with your daughter on a regular basis? I don't know how it would help except that she might calm down with some extra attention, and it might be harder for her to be such a snot if you were just connecting over something silly.

Good luck!

I have a soon to be six year old with the same attitude. I remind her that I am her mother and she will respect me. she sits in time out when she is rude and we made a deal, I would not holler at her, if she was respectful to me. she reminds me of that when I holler at her, she tells me that we made a deal and I remind her that we did and she had to be respectful. I also NEVER give into her rudeness, even if it is as simple as saying please before asking for a drink or thank you, I enforce it by not giving in and she usually gets the hint and uses her manners. She only acts like this towards me, I too am a working mom, a teacher as a matter of fact and I use the same tactics with my 4th graders, if they are not respectful, they will not get a response, or I tell them when they can figure out how to speak to me I will listen but until then, I can not help them. As strange as it sounds, we have to be rationale with our kids from a very early age, otherwise, I know what the product of that looks like, I see it every day! Just be stern and consistent and it will pass!

I haven't been quite through this, I have seen a bit of it in my step daughters when they were younger, and also on some of my friend's kids.. I think a lot of the times is has to do with how neglected the child feels. I am not saying you neglect your child, just that with you working, dad out driving, and older siblings to compete with, she may be feeling like she is not getting enough parent-time. Since you are the one who is around, she takes out her resentment on you. its a long the lines of separation-anxiety, she misses dady, she misses mommy when mommy is at work, but she can only take it out on mommy.. I remember being single and visiting my married friends with kids and the kids would be going berzerk and it was clear to me that mommy had been gone to work all week, and now came her adult freinds to take even more time away.. I felt so sorry for the kids, because at that age, they cant explain what they are feeling, all they can do is react, and i felt sorry for the moms because they did their best and they were good moms! if you think this may be the case with your daughter, try doing something special just with her or just blocking time to spend with her alone and see if it softens her up..

My experieice with a now almost ten year old daughter is give her more responsibility. This may seem counter intuituve, but she might just be frustrated being the youngest - and the age gap, and my guess is the older siblings have both more responsibility and activities they are responsible for, she may just feel a bit left out. SHe is probably more mature than most because of the older siblings and two working parents. Try simple things, like the dinner table, the salad, feed the dog etc. Keep these things just for her. She should start to feel a little more connected and less angry.

A little about me, 41 full time sales professional mother of two, almost ten daughter, 5 year old son - youngest of four sisters. K. O-Chicago


I am a working mom with 5 children, and I understand how rough it can be at times. My suggestion would be for you to read a book called 1 2 3 Magic. It is also available on tape, and should be at most public liabraries. This theory really helped me with my kids. This parents theory is for stopping a child's behavior(mainly talking back in your case), and it worked for me. My main issue was that I started to argue and rason with my kids
which lead to ongoing bickering and talkback. The book uses a 1 2 3 counting method (then a time out or taken away priviledges) if they get to three, but mine quickly learned stop the action when I counted. The main thing this book taught me was that I have to stop the arguing, and just cut off the conversation, which as a parent is hard to do.

MY other suggestion is to spend some one on one taling time with your daughter to talk out her issues. Maybe set a specific time of the day for her to talk to you about her concerns or problems. That way she would feel heard, and not need to lash out at your or others.

Good luck and keep in mind that everything with kids is a phase, and it will end.


All I have to say is google 1-2-3 Magic (geared to children 2-12). It's my Phalen (spelling??) It's a wonderful tool and has helped me become a "better" mommy and nanny. Phalen is offering a short workshop in St. Charles on 4/17. It's to be a Hosanna Preschool on Randall Rd a few miles north of Rt. 64. The cost is $10.00 and I think really worth it for a crash course. A bunch of moms and I from my local mom and tot group will be going. Best of luck!

I am right there with you. I have a 10 year old and a 6 year old. She is an angel with everyone else. Her teacher loves her. She excels in the classroom. When she gets home she doesn't want to do anything. She argues, says no all the time. We used counting to three, "time-outs", taking away things, you name it, we tried it. We explained to her several times that we aren't going to yell or argue with her any longer; she will just get in trouble. We started trying the allowance thing. We use poker chips, when their cup gets to a certain point we exchange the chips for money. She gets .50 (we don't want to go broke)for good things, unloading the dishwasher, putting away the silverware, helping to fold the laundry, and setting the table and gets it taken away everytime she argues, yells, or is being rude. She just lost all her money because she asked her dad to do something when I had already told her no. She was mad but she is trying to earn her money back, she dusted the house with me and took out the recycling, without me having to ask. I think they are trying to be the big kid and they really aren't. You are the one who is around more she will try to push your buttons. As long as you and your husband show a united front she will eventually get the message. Just hang in there. A friend who also has a 6 year old has the same complaints. Good luck!

That number 4 sees a lot of behaviors because of her older siblings. Things that those older siblings would have never done. My two year old called her older sister an idiot today. Her older sister and brothers have used that word. It's so frustrating because I expect the older kids to easily follow the rules since they've been around awhile, of course, that isn't real life. So I continue to give the big kids consequences and the little one I just try to ignore and hope she realizes she won't get any attention when she talks this way. We have "21 rules of this house". And when the kids break one of the rules they have to write it out many times. The older they are the more they write out, I've had my son do it 50 times. It's so old school but it works and they follow the rule for a while before they slip up again as this is how they learn. Keep your cool as losing it will only perpetuate the situation. Good Luck

Have you had a chance to sit in on your daughters class?

Short Story: When my son was in 3rd grade he was attending a private Christian School. Paying big money you would think all is good. Answer no.. Come to find out he had a teacher that yelled all the time. It was quick out busts. How I found out is when he came home and told me that is the last time I ask Mrs. ------- any thing. I asked him why and he told me, " I walked up and said can you help me with this problem. She answered, (yelling) go sit down I don't have time for this." So I went and sat in the room across the hall and found out she was very loud. Talked to the head people and it got changed because we said we would him out and inform the church about what was going on.
I think a child at 6 years old could pick up on the yelling and think it is ok.

Just thought I would share. Might be at school...

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