17 answers

Moody 5 Year Old

Around the time my daughter started school, her moods have changed. She went through the normal naughty and testy phases that all kids go through when she was little but lately my 5 year old reminds me of me when I was a teenager-she is moody as can be, negative, argues for the sake of arguing and all of the sudden everything we say isn't fair or nice and she doesnt like anything (dinners, colors..) that she used to. She loves school and has nothing but good things to say about her teacher and classmates so I dont think thats it, we thought she might be tired so we moved her bedtime up an hour but it hasnt changed. I was hoping it was just a new phase but its been a couple months now and hasnt gotten better! My husband and I are at the end of our rope and arent sure what to do! Timeouts dont seem to do much good and its as if we just can't please her no matter what we do! It breaks my heart that we can't seem to have one full good day without an argument or attitude-any thoughts?? Please tell me this will get better!!

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Nip it in the bud now or it'll get out of hand. Watch Supernanny on Fridays at 9 on ABC. She has great ideas for dealing with stuff like this. Or maybe email her for advice.

I'd set some guidelines, tho. That if she can't act a little positive, it works against her. Could be sibling jealousy, tho. My oldest has never had the highest regard for the second child. Real inconvenience. Or maybe she needs more challenge. What's she interested in? Dance? Music? Arts? something she'd really get excited about and you'd then get excited too.

My daughter went through the same thing at age 5. She went to all day kindergarten and I really think that it was just overwhelming for her. She was extremely tired. They did not give naps and it seemed a little too much for her. Maybe that could be the problem. My daughter also wanted her independence. She wouldn't let me do anything for her. If I did, (such as tie her shoes), she would throw a fit! It will pass. :)

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Welcome to the "tude" stage. lol
We also had a sweet loving 5 yr old until school started. Then she started witnessing OTHER childrens behavior and in our school they have the K's, 1st, and 2nd graders having recess together. I totally believe that the change in attitude is because of peers examples.(and the peers pick it up from older siblings who are teens) Does that mean pull your child out of school so they don't have that example? No. We recognize that she is going to have to deal with a lot of attitudes thru her life and are trying to help her recognize what is acceptable and not acceptible. When you see the attitude, confront it. Use simple words. WE do not act that way.(attitude) That is not allowed in OUR family. (child arguing with adult) When you need to end the conversation tell her calmly and firmly that the attitude is not acceptable and We do not act that way. OTHER kids may act that way BUT IN OUR FAMILY, WE DON"T. (I follow up with go to your room until you have fixed the attitude. That gives them control over the length of their punishment, quietness, and a time to relax. It seems to work with our girl for about a day or so.) For the arguing I calmly and firmly tell her that I gave her my answer, Arguing with her parents is not acceptable and that is that. If she continues on then I repeat what I just said calmly and firmly. Still arguing? well, go to your room until YOU are ready to listen and apologize for arguing with me. When you are ready, come find me. (apologies are not "I'm sorry" Its I am sorry for arguing with you. That way they remember and recognize the reason for the apology)Just a note. Do not stay standing when you are talking to them. Get eye to eye with her. Her level. Stay calm, but firm.
My girly is 7 now and I will warn you... It will not stop. You must pick a way to handle it now and stay consistant with it. Do not back down. As she ages you can make things more severe depending on her actions, but do not make things laxer. Draw the line in the sand and do not let it blur. Kids pick up on that and take advantage of it quickly.
Parenting is not about pleasing your kids. Its about training them and preparing them to be upstanding, moral, stable and responsible people. You will never be able to please your children if you are raising them right. They will be upset at you at times especially in the teen years.
Have a talk with hubby and come up with a punishment for her. Come up with words so you are saying the SAME THING and DOING THE SAME THING for these certain offenses. Unified front.
For me the time out is more of a break for me than for the child. The child will still be thinking they are right and they want what they want. But after a few seconds to recoup your breath YOU ARE BETTER EQUIPED TO DEAL WITH THE SECOND (third, fourth, etc) WAVE OF ATTACK. :-)

Hug her often and tell and show her that you love her. Then when you have to punish her in anyway she knows you love her even if her attitude is saying you hate her for punishing her.
Pick your battles and stick to your guns. And have weekly girl time. Just you and her. Ask about HER Her day, her friends, etc. Start to cement the open communication now...

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

Oh, I LOVE MamaSource!
M., you have received so many good responses!!! I'm the single mom of a 5 year old and her personality has done a total 180 since Kindergarten started in the fall. I guess you can take comfort in the fact that this is something many children this age are obviously going through as I read through the responses and think....that's us!....that's us!.....that's us, too!

My daughter went from being outgoing, very vocal and social to this shy, reserved little girl who is "nervous" (her words) all the time. She does not initiate play or take the "leader" role like she used to in day care. She was at the same day care from 2 months old to 5 years old and she was the "queen bee". Kindergarten has meant that she has to find her place again.

I think, as adults, it can be so hard for us to allow children the same feelings we have. Think about how we feel when we start a new job, project or task. It can be overwhelming, we can doubt ourselves. We have the vocabulary and the social grace to deal with our feelings. Our children are still learning all of that and I truly believe that, for my daughter, this is a time of transition and new things and her behavior (she cries and whines much more now and will take 30 to 45 minutes to stop crying AT SCHOOL! I'm so worried she's going to get teased as a crybaby because she cries with very little trigger and for such a long time!)is her way of dealing with feelings she might not fully understand.

I've stopped waiting for my outgoing,demands-the-spolight daughter to come back and am just letting her know I love her no matter who she is. I, too, discipline her consistenly and keep the routine at home the same as much as I can. I know children find comfort in consistency.

Sometimes, we're doing all the right things and since we don't see changes, our "mom guilt" kicks in and we feel like we can't rest until the problem is solved. Unacceptable behavior (however that is defined in your home) should be consistently addressed (I agree so much with BETH'S response!). But, I do feel we put so much pressure on our kids: to be well-behaved, to succeed, to be all of the things we think other people's kids are. As a single mom, I've had to allow myself permission not to compare my daughter with others and just be her. I want her to feel accepted for who she is at home so that when she is away from me, she feels secure and loved.

Kindergarten has been hard for me, too. I get a LOT less communication about what she's doing and only get her version of events, which makes it hard to know how to respond. I don't think I'm a controlling mom, but it's very hard to go from knowing all about their day (most day cares are really communicative or at least send some kind of daily sheet home!)to knowing very little about what happens at school, meaning I don't know IF there's a problem, how to help, etc. We moms need to remember that our kids pick up on everything and if we're experiencing change/anxiety/anything in response to Kindergarten and the transitions for everyone involved, they are too PLUS seeing that we are.

This will get better, M.. Maybe not a lot DIFFERENT, but I think we all find ways to deal with things so that they work in our family, maybe not the cure-all perfect solution, but one Momma can live with!

Hang in there! It sounds like a lot of us are going through the same thing. Maybe we should start a Kindergarten Mom's Support Group!!!!!!

In loving understanding, through the bonds of motherhood,

1 mom found this helpful

I don't really have any advice, but wanted to let you know you are not alone. My daughter will be 5 in November and is in Kindergarten now, and I she has totally changed as well. Has a attitude problem at least 3 days out of the week, argues, annoys her younger sister, doesnt listen, thinks everything is funny and a joke. She has been doing alot better, but she has her horrible days, yesterday being one of them. When she starts her stuff I let her know that if she is going to act like that then she will stay in her room and take a nap. She does not like taking naps, so that usually helps. Good luck and I will pray for you, because I know how frustrating it can be.

Try an outing where your full attention will be on the 5 yr. old, age approiate, big girl stuff. Sounds to me you have a beautiful family, and posibily a daughter who need a little me time with mom, or dad. It's a big task to raise a strong willed woman. Mother of 4 daughters, 2 grandson's and one very strong willed 4 yr old grand-daughter who loves to help, right now your biggest problem may be the age difference, 5 yr and 11mo. totally different needs, and sometimes she feel's left out, the baby need more of your attention right now. Best of luck, it will get better, knowing there is a problem show's your a great mom. Also, ask her what the best part of her day was, and the worst.

My 4.5 year old goes to daycare a couple days a week with a boy who is about 6 months older than he is. I have witnessed behavior that I don't approve of in this other child (although I love his mother) and I also see it in my son when he has been there. I just try to address it at home and reiterate how PROUD I am of my little guy when he follows our rules even when the kids around him may not be! I can see him wanting to misbehave as if it almost 'pulls' him toward this other kid...but he wants the praise and rewards for good behavior and let me tell you, we lay it on thick when he makes the right choice!!!

Of course, I have 3 boys and have no experience with girls (thank you God)...although I hear it starts early! All I can say is focus on the positive even when there doesn't seem to be any to be found! Over-praise the small stuff and and I think you'll see the light at the end.....wait, is there an end???


Wow! You've gotten lots of advice on this. My daughter is 3.5 and going through the same thing. I bought the book, 5 love languages of kids and plan on using that as a tool for us. My husband and I went to a marriage retreat once and they had the book for marriages and it was awesome! I figured if we liked that book and it worked for us, it's worth trying on our little red-head. Good luck!

My daughter went through the same thing at age 5. She went to all day kindergarten and I really think that it was just overwhelming for her. She was extremely tired. They did not give naps and it seemed a little too much for her. Maybe that could be the problem. My daughter also wanted her independence. She wouldn't let me do anything for her. If I did, (such as tie her shoes), she would throw a fit! It will pass. :)


Welcome to the terrible 5's! My 6-year-old son went through this went he went to school too. Constant back talk, nothing was good enough, always something bad to talk about. We have always been respectful to him, trying to model good behavior, so his attitude was a real shock!

We tried everything and nothing worked. Finally, one evening he said that dinner looked yucky and he wouldn't eat it. We said fine and sent him to his room for the rest of the night. I fed him a big breakfast the next day and that evening we talked about manners, again. He was told that if he continued to say dinners were yucky without trying the food first he would be sent to bed without dinner. (Only happened one other time)

We also told him if he didn't like something after trying it he must use the phrase "I don't care for this" only if he is asked. We didn't want him announcing to his grandparents, "I don't care for your food" at the dinner table. We keep reminding him "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!"

We instituted the family dinner conversation around the table, asking each other how our day was. Each person must include at least one good thing that happened to them that day. Eventually he learned that he receives good attention from us when he talks about good things and treats us with respect.

He was sent to his timeout chair for back-talk and sassy behavior and sometimes I would have him put his nose in a corner if he continued to treat the timeout as a game. We made him apologize to people after insulting them, both kids and adults - he really didn't like that at all!

Eventually we saw the bad attitude less and less. A few times he has tried to revert back to the negative behavior, but overall it has gotten better. Your daughter's attitude may not change for a few months. Hang in there, talk with your husband and put together rules for different situations, stay consistent, and eventually this too will pass.

Good luck!


She sounds pretty normal to me. If you think this is bad...wait till she's a teenager. UGH!!!! Just keep up with the discipline...just because it's normal, doesn't mean it should be ignored.

Nip it in the bud now or it'll get out of hand. Watch Supernanny on Fridays at 9 on ABC. She has great ideas for dealing with stuff like this. Or maybe email her for advice.

I'd set some guidelines, tho. That if she can't act a little positive, it works against her. Could be sibling jealousy, tho. My oldest has never had the highest regard for the second child. Real inconvenience. Or maybe she needs more challenge. What's she interested in? Dance? Music? Arts? something she'd really get excited about and you'd then get excited too.

Are you a SAHM with the 11 month old? Curious - because perhaps your 5 y/o is feeling 'left out' - that perhaps the 11 month old is getting all the alone time with mommy, while she has to go to school (albeit, she enjoys school). Or even if you work outside the home, perhaps your 5 y/o sees more time being devoted (for good reasons) to the 11 month old. Perhaps some time can be set aside by BOTH you & your husband to have some one-on-one time with your daughter - plan special time for just she & daddy, or she & mommy - and it can be just a walk in the park - or an hour of time away from her sibling. It would benefit the baby, too - b/c now she'd have undivided attention from the alternate parent! Consider, she'd been alone for a long time before baby sister came along - and although sister has been here for 11 months, your 5 y/o is probably realizing that she's not just a novelty, but rather, is stickin' around forever!!! Good luck!

Stick with the time outs,dont worry about pleasing her when she needs to have a little discipline. You will need to stay consistent otherwise she will soon "run you".My daughter went throught this for a couple of weeks. I went to the library and checked out a couple Jo Frost aka supernanny books. She has some great ideas on discipline.
The most important thing I learned it to be consistant shes five so put her in time for 5 minutes and each time she gets up it starts over again, she will learn whos boss by the end!I think its just the age our kids are that they have to go through this early rebel stage but we have to snap them back into reality because I refuse to let my daughter smart mouth me or be disrespectful so hopefully by time time shes a teen she will know thats not right.Good luck and hang in there. :-)

I am not sure about you, but my son is doing some of the same. I feel it is not only because he is now witnessing his peers behaving this way but we had a turn-over of teachers in our school. (and a sub in between them!)

I feel for you as my son behaves this way from time to time. However, I can get him to see reason when he wants to have a specific item (I have some collectibles he likes to play with, and this works wonders~ bribery is not the best policy, but sometimes it does help when all else fails!). I let him know he has to be nice, no bossing and no accidents (he has reverted on potty accidents from the stress and being lazy: our ped says this is normal) and it has helped us.

We also have a puppet he loves to talk to. He just talks easily and without thought. So I use this method to see what is bothering him at times and it is another 'trick' that really helps us help him.

good luck and keep patient! It can only get better~

Oh my gosh. I could have written this post. My daughter is doing the same thing. She just started kindergarten and has "the attitude." She is driving my husband and me nuts! I don't have any advice, but I'm attributing it to her new found independence and her desire to test the waters. I keep telling myself that it will get better -- it has to get better, but for now we work a lot of reframing her words so they don't sound so sassy and positive re-enforcement for good behavior.

Good luck.

I m having the same prob with my 7 year old also! interested to see what others have to say ;)


I really have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with everthing Beth said!

I have 5 boys and my 7 year old (first grader) has been like this also from the beginning of the school year.

Something else we do at dinner time is postive talk only. Any bad attitudes, whining, complaining etc. are explicitly ignored. Want to join into family conversation at the dinner table? The only way to get attention is to have nice things to say. Usually one or two reminders directed at everyone are all that is needed, but we did need to ignore him for a couple of meals tho.

Hi M.
I so know what you mean! The same thing with my daughter 5, who started school this fall. I agree it's because of peers examples, and none of the stories about school come home in context, so it's a guessing game to start. We talk about behavior all the time. If she gets to sassy she has to say yes mam, or may I please...If that doesn't do it she talks with Daddy. He is the sun in her solar system right now.
Another thing, I rarely see moms following through with what they say. I think it's a mistake to do so, and will come back to kick your but.
Hang in there, insist everyone use manners, and I think we'll get through this. Or at least get the manners to last through the teen years.
Good luck to us! A. H

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