17 answers

Seeking Advice on 5 Almost 6 Year Old Who Argues About Everything

Hello Ladies, I am turning to you for advice again. My daughter who is 5 about to turn 6 in a couple weeks has been giving me a hard time lately about EVERYTHING! From the clothes she wants to wear, to what i serve for dinner, doesn't want to get out of the bathtub. I have tried and do try giving choices, but she wants anything but the choices I give. I am sure she is exerting her independance but how do I handle this? Any advice or books out there that can help? It is stressing me out so and I have a 2 year old as well that is going through the " terrible 2's" as well. Thank you so much for any advice you can give. I just want my daugther to do what I ask the first time and to not give me a hard time about everything.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

It take 2 to argue. Defuse. I watched my sis-in-law do this with her kids. It was amazing. kid tries to pick a fight, mom smiles and then giggles or gives kid a hug. sometimes I even say, 'hey, I don't wanna fight with you. do you need a hug? ...if you need a hug just say so!'

Kids want to feel like they're in control. My toddler loves it when I let him put me in timeout instead of the other way around. It's a game we play.

Don't let her pull you into a fight. pick a different option....just like she's picking a different option. if she really wants one shirt over another...ask her why.

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My granddaughter is doing the same thing. It is vewry simple and you may not even realize that you are doing it. It takes two to argue. Do not answer! You are the parent, act like one. You inform her that you have given an answer and there is no arguement. Do not acknowledge anything else she says. Ignore her. You are the parent. You are giving total control of your life to a 5-6 year old. It is time to take it back. Assert a calm authority, do not get angry or exasperated. Show her that this is the way it is. You are the boss. Take it back. If she begins to argue make a shshshing noise and continue on with whatever you were doing. I raised six children plus my grandkids and I don't have time for all of this arguing. Especially when I am in canning season. Mom's word is law and once a decision is reached that is the way it is. Be assertive! She may hang her head and act all dejected. Ignore Her, it is a ploy and she will soon get over it and move on to something else. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Dear K.,

I know EXACTLY what you are going through with your older daughter. Mine is 6.9 going on 14 and she's still on her toes when it comes to arguing with me!! If debate were a sport she'd win I swear. Here are some things that have helped us (me, my daughter and my husband) deal with this important independent phase.
1. Don't argue if you can help it. Change the subject on her, quickly!!
2. Hubby could intervene. This helps TONS for us. He just jumps in and tells our dear daughter where her place is and that is not to backtalk or argue. She an disagree, but she does NOT know it ALL. Mom does.
3. Ignore her advances. Which is difficult when she is saying that the sky is really purple because, and you know that it is BLUE because...
4. Let her have an imagination sometimes. There are some things just not worth arguing about. I say, "mm, that is an interesting way to look/think about it..."
5. Pick your battles.
6. On clothes, give her TWO choices. Most things this works with. Hold out your right hand, assign it a "choice" then hold out your left hand with an assigned "choice". Neither of these have to be what she wants. In fact, most of the time I chose things that would benefit ME!! And she HAS to decide which one to do. I win both ways! heheheee.

Hope some of that helps.

V. W.

Mom of 6 year old turns 7 at the end of this month!! And I'm carrying #2 (finally!)
Married 8.5 years to a great guy.

1 mom found this helpful

Time for choices. Time for bath...do you want to get in now for 20 minutes or later for 10 minutes. Do you want to be first before little sister or after her?
Time to pick school clothes...teach her about what are school outfits, then let her pick out what she will wear from the school outfits..the night before. About this age when my boys didn't want to eat what I fixed, they were allowed to fix a peanut butter sandwich for supper...with fruit. I didn't fix it and they were not allowed to say "yuck" or they did have to have some of the dinner fixed. :) There won't be an argument if you don't argue. "Choices when you can give them, your way when you can't"

Be consistant. Give her consequences for every thing she argues about. It may take a few weeks but after having privilages taken away for a while and she learns you won't back down, she may get better about minding. I know a couple of books that might help. Raising the strong-willed child. 1-2-3 Magic (This may work for the two year old too) and Love and Logic. I don't know the authors but I'm sure you can find these books in the Local Library. Good luck!!!

My daughter, who just turned 8 does the same thing from time to time. I allow her to pick out her own clothes to wear to school (as long as she has them out the night before). If, when I get up for work in the morning, they are not out, she has to wear whatever I put out for her. That has worked pretty well, because I have purposely showed her what I would pick out and she didn't like that. She has asked me questions about does this shirt go with these pants or whatever and when I give her my answer, she totally goes with the opposite. I also try to let her "plan" dinner because it never fails, she never seems to want what I am going to fix. There are times when giving her a choice is not possible but I try to as much as possible so that she doesn't think "I am the meanest mommy since the dinosaurs existed" (Those are her words when she gets mad at me)

I had this dilema with my seven year old. If the fits are big about clothes have her get her own clothes the night before, try them on and let her choose herself. This saved me big time in the mornings, it was her choice and she had to live with it! If it is going to be cold or a gym day and she had to wear tennis shoes is the only time I interject my opinion.
I can say a miracle in my house (I don't want to jinx myself) is the three chances rule. Chance one is blantant defiance and a fit over something little, I warn her.
Second chance is jammies when she gets home from school or whatever time it is on the weekends, jammies! The third chance is bed, NO MATTER what time it is!!!!!! She doesn't have to sleep but sit on her bed, no playing. She can come down for meals if it is super early but in her bed otherwise.

Over the summer and a few times right after school started, she was in her room either right after school or in the summer one day as early as 2pm!!
After sticking tough to my guns and it happening a few times, she has been a dream ever since. Not perfect but I can warn her once now and maybe some days it gets to chance two but wow, it was an amazing transformation! Seriously. She knows I am serious and it was the only thing that hit home with her.

Not saying it will work with your daughter the same way, however calmly but firmly warn her. I tell both of my children, you do not have to like what I am asking of you, but you do have to listen or there are consequences. Period.

She is exterting her independence so on things that are minor, let her have her choices. As far as dinner, well, tell her this is what you are serving and she doesn't have to eat, not a problem. However she won't get anything else. Be matter of fact, don't allow an argument and stand by your word. Consistency was key with my daughter, letting her know I meant what I said. As far as the bath, explain the water is going to get cold and let her sit in a cold bathtub...! The clothes can be her choice and all that.
Independence is great to encourage, however defiance, sassing or just being difficult isn't. So let her have her choices but be firm about the things you deem not fit for her to choose and stand tough! It will pass. This chance thing did a huge turn around in our house!! Even my four year old son who is on the brink of the testing me has changed his tune! Good luck.

I agree with Sarah about the Love & Logic books. I would highly recommend specifically Love & Logic: Practical Parenting - Birth to 6 years. I have a 4 yr old girl (almost 5) that has similar tendencies & I have found that this book has helped a TON. This book is short & sweet & to the point and gives very specific advice about exactly this issue. It gives more strategies than just choices & specific examples of what to do. It even has a chapter specifically on arguing. Good luck!

I second Sophie P's recommendation, the book 1-2-3 Magic. It works very well with arguers! We use it with our 3 year old but it works well all through elementary school.

Here are a couple ideas that have worked pretty well with my kids:

First, on the things you can give her 2 or 3 choices on, keep doing that. On the things there is no choice about (like eating dinner or doing chores, tell her the choice is doing it "happy" or doing it "sad." If she wants to have a punishment first for arguing or throwing a tantrum, that is fine, but she will STILL do it--just sad. Otherwise she can do what she's told and be happy. On getting out of the tub, I used to say to mine "do you want to get out in 2 minutes or 5 minutes? Then whatever they choose, I set the timer and then "help" them out of the tub (forcibly if necessary.) Pretty soon she'll get the idea that EVERYTHING in life involves choices, but the choices have consequences (good or bad.)

Another idea is make a "Family Plan" of 2 or 3 behaviors you want to improve on. Each behavior will be listed on a chart with 3 columns: 1- List the behavior, defined as what, and who decides if it has been followed or not; 2- Negative Consequence (for not following it) and 3- Reward (for following it.) Here is an example from my own family (we had similar issues):

1- Be Respectful to Parents-- Defined as: no backtalking, excuses, blaming, arguing, or ongoing negotiation; obedient to parents; respectful tone of voice; no other disrespectful behaviors-- Decided by: Parents (A warning will be given unless the behavior is blatant)

2- Negative Consequence--Loss of cell phone for 24 hours (for the older girls) or Time out of 1 minute per year of age (for the younger girls)
(You could also do Loss of friend privileges for 1 day or whatever is really important to her.)

3- Reward--Everyone who does well on this behavior all week gets to participate in a family outing on the weekend (ice cream, movie, out to dinner, shopping, etc.)

This one has worked really well for us. My husband and I made the plan and presented it to the girls. We printed it out and have it posted on the fridge for reminder. Now the plan is the bad guy, and not us.

Finally, I am a big fan of Love and Logic Parenting. They have seminars and books that have been invaluable to me. Here's their website: http://www.loveandlogic.com/ See if you can find a local seminar, but if not, ALL their books are wonderful!

Good luck--hope I helped some,

Go to the library and see if they have a book written by James Dobson called "The Strong Willed Child". The book was a lot of help to me.

I have a 7 and 8 year old daughter who attend an elementary school that teaches the principles of Love & Logic....choices and consequences. Choices are good because they empower your children to make decisions. I would think you could contact Andrus Elementary (Meridian School District, ask for the Library and ask where you could get ahold of those CDs and/or go online to check out "Love & Logic." Blessings,
S. La

Give two choices and if your daughter doesn't choose one of those options then choose for her! She'll learn quick to make the best decision for herself! Parenting with Love and Logic sounds like it would be a perfect book for you to read. Take the course if you have time! You can google it.

Hi K.,
The love and logic series is great. Allowing your daughter to have choices is important but at the same time maintaining that you are still the final decision maker. Love and logic can sound harsh but works faster than anything I have found. I have raised 3 boys and know it works.

An example with the clothes, if you really don't want her picking out her own clothes then give her the choice, you can wear the pink skirt or the green skirt. If she throws a fit say she can go in her underwear or pajamas. Really do it! Head to the car even if she isn't dressed and take her in her pajamas to school. It only happens once and they take you seriously. The two of you pick out her clothes before bedtime as part of your schedule (or let her pick out her clothes and compliment her on what a nice choice she made), that way when you are in a hurry the next day the clothes issue is already dealt with.

I try to include the kids in as many decisions and responsibilities as possible. They help me cook, from the time they were 18 months old, holding measuring spoons..., at 5 they can crack eggs... help pick out fruit and veggies at the store, tell them what makes them ripe or rotten, let them weigh the produce..., it includes them and makes them want to try the foods they helped with and makes them feel an important part of the family in a positive way instead of just being taken care of. My kids responded positively to this kind of interaction, it affected many areas of their behavior, not just with food and clothes.

Good luck,
Have fun,

I also have a daughter and was VERY strong willed when she was about that age. It is very stressful, I know. I read a book about raising a strong willed child (I am sorry, but I cannot remember the author). I also did the Love and Logic. Both were a big help. My daughter is now fourteen and is a great kid. Stay strong and know you are not the only parent going thru it. Good luck!

It take 2 to argue. Defuse. I watched my sis-in-law do this with her kids. It was amazing. kid tries to pick a fight, mom smiles and then giggles or gives kid a hug. sometimes I even say, 'hey, I don't wanna fight with you. do you need a hug? ...if you need a hug just say so!'

Kids want to feel like they're in control. My toddler loves it when I let him put me in timeout instead of the other way around. It's a game we play.

Don't let her pull you into a fight. pick a different option....just like she's picking a different option. if she really wants one shirt over another...ask her why.

Must be a common thing! My 6 y/o son does the same thing. First of all be glad she has free will. If she blindly complies with everything people asked of her you would be worried about that. Then have a little talk about respect. Obviously you want her to respect you and her father and also teachers/ coaches. That being said we told my son that it is okay for him to question his peers and anyone that tells him to do something that he knows is wrong. At home for being disrespectful to me or his father we first give a time-out twice. If the behaivior continues he loses privleges, video games, T.V., toys then books. We never have gotten to toys. Of course the list will be different for your daughter. Congrats on having a child that wants to push boundries, I think this can be a good quality if nurtured in the right way!


Isn't it great that you have raised an almost 6 year old that knows that she can have choice. The biggest trick -- letting her use her wings safely. When it comes to food, take her shopping with you and let her assist you in making healthy choices. If the main concern with the clothes is the time it takes for her to make the choice. Have her decide the night before what she wants to wear. Take the time to look at her choices... is there anything "wrong" with what she wants?

With my whole heart,

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