5 Year Old Discipline, I Need Help!

Updated on June 09, 2016
B.C. asks from Peterson, AL
17 answers

I am at my wits end here, please help me, I am out of ideas of how I can discipline my 5 yo boy. I am 29, married young, he is my only child. Things have become so bad in our family that I can't figure out a solution, rather than separation. So, my 5 yo old is very spoiled...yes, my husband and I spoiled him by always give him what he wanted.Lately he has become very naughty and disobedient. He doesn't listen to me anymore and most of the time he just gets it his way: he wants dinner in bed? He gets it, he wants a new toy? He gets it...otherwise? He yells, cries until he gets what he wants. He throws a tantrum like he used to do when he was 2. When he acts out I try to remain calm, but firm. I explain to him :" we don't eat in bed, we sit at the table" just to give you an example. My dh's reaction to all of this? He would do anything just to make him stop crying. "Give him dinner in bed,just this time", "let him stay late only today". I just cannot take this anymore. Yesterday my son hit another child in park (on purpose) so we went home and I told him he is not allowed to play on ipad. My dh told me to just leave him "5 min". In my opinion he is undermining my authority in front of our son and don't know what to do. I talked with my dh about this, I explained why I think we should always be on the same page when disciplining our son. I want to establish some rules, but how can I do it when I feel I don't have any support from my dh? Please, please help me, I need advice how to raise my little boy, I think I am such a failure of a mother. Also, what can I do about my dh's attitude?

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answers from Honolulu on

Does your husband have a job? I'm asking because perhaps you can use that as a way to demonstrate things to your husband. For example, if your husband works at Walmart in charge of the stock room, and has employees who work under him, what would happen if he tells a guy to go move those boxes or go refill a particular shelf in the store, and the guy tells your husband that he's tired, and can your husband do it? And the guy starts to cry and pitch a fit. Would your husband leave his duties and sit the guy down and get him a cold soda and go do the guy's job? If your husband has a secretary, or an assistant, would he put up with nonsense like tantrums, excuses, pleas for an extra long break or three weeks' paid vacation instead of one? Would whining or crying or screaming make any difference? Or would that slacker be fired or reprimanded or punished or sent for some kind of training?

If your husband has any sort of responsibilities at work, and if he performs them well, maybe he'll see the point.

I get it, really I do. My daughter has many medical and psychiatric issues. It is so tempting, and it would so much easier, to simply go along, in order to avoid a meltdown, crying, or her getting upset. My daughter's therapist has helped me and my husband tremendously. We got support, the words to say, understanding of consequences, and a plan of action. Yes, we're educated, intelligent, experienced parents, and we have an older son who presented no problems, and we thought we had this parenting thing down. But some kids are a different kind of challenge, or sometimes we just need someone to come along side of us and help us focus. I literally have a script written by the therapist to use in times of crisis. I have an emergency script for when she is potentially a danger to herself, and a plan of action to follow. We also have a script to use to help her think through something when she's getting upset (usually about something that is actually not a problem - she just fixates on something that is bugging her to an extreme degree, something that would not bother most people but it can get her in a state of agitation that can't be controlled). You wouldn't think we'd need such help, but honestly, we do. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm pretty proud of the fact that we have all survived and that we were able to ask for help.

I also get the crying thing. It's awful. It's so tempting to do ANYTHING to stop it. But ask your husband what he would do if he heard an awful noise suddenly coming from his car's motor? Would he stop and lift the hood and either do the repairs or take it to a mechanic? Or would he just turn up the radio really really loud and try to drown out that noise and keep driving until the motor explodes?

Put it in terms your husband can relate to. And get as many of you as possible to a counselor.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

You both need therapy and some serious education on parenting skills and child development. You do not allow a 5 year-old child to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. You are setting him up to fail in the world because the rest of the world---school, social life, later workplace---will not bend to his whims and tantrums.

Your husband needs to check back in to his parenting responsibilities. Parenting is tough, and sometimes we have to handle tantrums, crying, whining, and bad behavior. By handling that, I don't mean giving in to it and reinforcing it. I mean turning it around and teaching your child limits and to behave appropriately for his age.

It doesn't sound like you have the skills together as a team to do this on your own, so you must get family therapy now, because the clock is not on your side. Your son has been allowed to rule your family just because your husband doesn't want to deal with the challenges of parenting. When your son starts school and behaves this way in that environment, do you really think the teachers and school staff will allow him to do whatever he wants?

You are correct. In the best possible situation, parents are on the same page with respect to raising children and discipline. Find an experienced family therapist and make an appointment. If your husband refuses to go, you go. Don't give up because it's not too late to turn this around, and the stakes are too high, and it's too damaging to your son to do nothing.

Stay strong and do the right thing for your child.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Family counseling and Love and Logic classes for both of you. Immediately.

I have spent two hours of this day minding another person's child who does not understand the word "no". If you think it's not cute now, it's ugly at age 9. I'm actually exhausted and having a stiff drink. Never again.

Love and Logic has a book-- go buy it tonight or tomorrow and get started. Ask your husband how he feels about Brock Turner's father, because that's what this road leads to-- zero respect for the humanity of others due to selfish entitlement. You both owe it to your son to correct the road he is on now, before he gets kicked out of schools. Your husband may disagree and argue with you but he's going to have to deal with at least 13 years of school teachers and administrators who won't be having it.

ETA: Elena, great concrete advice. Thank you.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

You guys have created your own monster.
It's up to you adults grow a collective backbone, to tame him and get your sweet little boy back.
Most kids go through this stage at roughly 3 to 4 yrs old but it's not to late to get this on track.
Neither of you are doing him any favors by raising a brat.
You've got 13 more years of raising this child - and Lord help you through the teenage years if you don't get a handle on this NOW.
He's not going to make friends or get along well with others or do well in school if he has no boundaries.
First and foremost - you and Hubby NEED to get on the same page.

Practice together - say it with me - say "No".
It's a complete sentence.
It doesn't have to be loud - it just needs to be firm - and when you say 'No' - there is no argument or discussion - your decision is final and each adult NEEDS to back the other up on this.
If either of you gives in and undermines the other - this will totally not work at all - child will simply play you off each other.
I've seen this happen between parents and grandparents and it's not a pretty sight.
Actually the girl in question became a 2nd generation teenage mom because no adult in her life could ever manage to tell her 'No'.

Then - both you and Hubby insert ear plugs when the temper tantrum ensues.
Make sure you put child in his room until he's over it.
Child is in total control of this - just as soon as he's done - he can come out!
It's all up to him!
The first few times will be rough.
But once he knows you mean business - and No MEANS No - it will eventually get better.
Hang in there!
You can do this!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

You and your husband need to both be on the same page. You both need to agree that this is something you want to work on. I strongly recommend you hire a babysitter and take parenting classes together. Look for a class that focuses on behavior and consequences. You cannot give a child what they want all the time. This is not parenting...in order to parent you work on teaching your child how to be the best person he can be. That means teaching the importance of doing the right thing even when it is hard, how to wait and not get immediate gratification, how to take responsibility, etc. It is very hard work being a parent. I think you both don't have the tools to do this (especially your husband!), so that is why I recommend a class (or classes). Also, your husband may be more open to listening to what the teacher has to say. You can also check out parenting books from the library. Good luck.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Rules. Your son needs (and wants) rules. Kids don't like being in charge. It's actually quite scary to them. Two squabbling parents? Even more proof that there is no adult in charge.

That's hard on a kid. Spoiled kids are not happy.

It sounds like you get this. You haven't failed! Your husband sounds a tad clueless when it comes to parenting. That's ok. There's hope :)

My suggestion would be to tell your husband to let you take charge of parenting for however long it takes - it might be a couple of weeks, might be a month - where he's still involved obviously, but he's not allowed to undermine what you're doing. Even if he's skeptical or wants to cave - he can't say anything in front of your son. His job is to look like he's backing you up (hopefully he will, but if he doesn't, so long as your son thinks he is, that's fine for now). But he can't cave and give in to your son.

It's kind of like when you Ferber-ize a baby. One parent usually is the strong one and the other one has to stay out of the baby's room and not pick the child up. You can't have one parent sabotage the other's efforts.

My feeling is, the only way your husband will respect your approach and support you, is if he sees it working. So if you start implementing rules, be consistent, and your son's behavior improves, maybe then he'll back you up.

(I doubt from the sounds of it your husband would go to counseling or do parenting classes - so I won't even suggest those).

And key to this is reward your son for progress. Every time he does something you like to see - then reward with attention. Buy him a toy not when he demands it but when you feel he deserves a little treat. He will come around. Make sure he gets to bed on time and eats well - that goes a long way with tantrums still at age 5.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

You're not a failure but an enabler. You and your hubby have created a "baby"-monster. Now, you both have to do double the work to reverse the damage. If I were you, where would I start? I'd first recognize and accept that it's going to be challenging and then decide to do the work, to get it right. That means, whatever it takes. Children only throw tantrums when their tantrums are seen and heard. STOP giving him attention when he throws a fit. More importantly imo, your hubby has to get on board with the plan and stand firm. Two parents clashing in parenting styles is a big no-no, especially when the child witnesses it. It's like good cop, bad cop and that's going to bite you both in the behind. Parenting classes as a suggestion will be helpful too.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You're not a failure of a mother. You do have a bit of a problem with your son. But your biggest problem is with your husband - you two are not on the same page at all. What's happening is that you are giving in for the short term benefit FOR YOU (the child stops crying or screaming) and trading it for the long term nightmare of a child who cannot function in the world unless he gets his own way. You are doing him a terrible disservice because that just isn't the way the world works. Your child doesn't see himself as part of a family, he sees himself as the Lord of the Manor.

Things are going to get harder before they get easier, certainly - because this bad habit is already entrenched. I'd say to institute discipline where you "say what you mean, mean what you say." But I don't see that as working when your husband undermines you at every turn.

So this is not as much a parenting failure as it is a relationship failure - you and your husband don't agree on anything. Yes, he's undermining your "authority", but why doesn't your husband have authority over a 5 year old either? Why is he giving in to the tantrums of a child? In my opinion, neither one of you wants to be a parent. You want the fun times, but not the very hard work and sacrifice of being "unpopular" and being strong, teaching a child what he needs to know to get along. And your only solution is to separate from your husband?

Get help, tomorrow, from a qualified child psychologist that you and your husband are willing to spend time with and learn from. If your town has a children/families office, you can ask for a referral there. You can also ask your pediatrician for a referral to someone who accepts your insurance. You need parenting skills, yes, but you need a much better marital relationship where you can agree on things and stick to them. Your child will be going to school, getting into all kinds of trouble with other kids, becoming a nightmare for the teachers, and generally unable to function because he thinks his way is the only way. Sooner or later, plenty of people are going to line up to teach him that this is not how it's going to be, and your child will end up resenting you for spoiling him. "Spoiling" in this sense doesn't mean "being extravagant" - it means "spoiling the joys of life for a child who will never be able to participate." Bottom line, your child isn't really happy anyway because he only gets what he wants by screaming, and he's not going to have friends.

It's not your fault that no one taught you how to discipline a child or how to be consistent no matter how much they scream. But you can learn these skills with a qualified expert.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Your child is acting like this because he's been given everything he wants. You need to stop this NOW.

You will not be able to do this if you and hubby are not on the same page, so you have to do whatever it takes to get your husband to stop giving in because it's momentarily easier. (Grrr, when I think of males who take the path of least resistance vs. taking the harder path and doing what's right, it makes me want to spit.)

You MUST get hubby on the same page. If you have to take him to a counselor, then do it. Make sure the counselor is an expert in children. Hopefully the counselor will get dad to stop giving kiddo everything he wants and turning him into a monster.

If you do not get on the same page now, the teen years will be unbearable, and may do a lot of damage to your marital relationship.

I could cite you dozens of examples of why spoiling is bad and why not being on the same page is bad, but just take my word for it. Or I will tell you one -- a young adult who has been allowed to swear at his mother and be generally rude and dismissive, and not do what he is asked, or if he does do it, it's at the last minute and with a combative attitude. He's this way because dad was weak and parents weren't on the same page.

All of the advice below is good.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I have been in the same situation. We spoiled our son to no end and that right there is one of the problems. When your child has everything he could want, there's no leverage of 'privileges'. When I finally realized that this was becoming a nightmare, just like you I'd try to give consequences only to have my husband undermine my authority. My son is now 8 and I can tell you, it'll only get worse if you don't nip it in the bud now! I had talk after talk with my husband, each time he would 'sort of get it' but after a few days he'd go right back to undermining me. Only lately have we finally been making some progress. I'm not sure if what is working for me will work for you but, I will certainly pass it along. Every time my son is acting out, I'll give him one warning with consequences stated clearly. I make him repeat back to me exactly what I said (that is really important). If my husband tries to get in the way, I will use authority towards my husband. Meaning, my son needs to see that *I* too make the decisions in this house and not just my husband and he needs to see that when it comes down to it, daddy is not going to come to the rescue because *I* am telling daddy what to do! It sounds silly but it's not. If children see that there is one parent who has the ultimate authority then they are not going to take the other parent's words seriously. You need to show your child that you can make your husband listen to you. In your child's mind he'll see 'wow, daddy listens to her so I should too'. Giving consequences is so important but equally important (for now) is rewarding the positives. It's so hard, I know! Many others will read this and try to tell you to simply punish your child, don't let him do this or that but, it seems impossible when your other half is undermining you! Please have a talk with your husband, let him know that as your child gets older he will start to lose respect for HIM, not you! Also, tell your husband that the way your son treats you is how he's going to treat his friends (and girls as he gets older). Often a man will pay more attention if they hear that their actions will affect their child's future.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

1. Work with you husband to get on the same page. Agree not to undermine each other. Agree on the consequences for your son if he misbehaves. Agree on the rewards if he behaves. If you can't come to an agreement, keep talking it out until you do -- your son is worth this. If that doesn't work, you need to talk to someone and/or take parenting classes together.

2. BE CONSISTENT AND FIRM. If you or your husband says "no," it means no. Your son will likely throw a tantrum, scream, yell, cry, etc. Let him and go do your own thing. Eventually, he will understand that when you say "no" you actually mean it -- kids hate being ignored.

3. Be patient. Your son's been given everything he wanted for FIVE years. Expect that things will not change overnight. It will take time, but you'll eventually be able to get your son to where you want him to be.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

" we don't eat in bed, we sit at the table"

The problem is - as you seem to be aware - that that kind of statement is basically a lie. He does eat in bed. He does get the toy. He knows 'No' isn't a real word in his world. He knows that a tantrum will get him what he wants. He also knows that his mother has no authority because his dad will undo whatever you say.

When he acts out, he isn't receptive to your explanations and such. Plop him in his room, tell him you don't want to be around him when he behaves like that, and walk out. He needs an audience for the tantrums to work, so don't give him one.

It is SUPER IMPORTANT that you and your husband not undermine each other. If there is a disagreement about how something is handled, discuss it quietly and in private. One should not undo the action of the other. If you two can't get on the same parenting page then nothing you do will work.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Well, yes, you have made some mistakes but you recognize what you've done and you see why what you did was wrong. So you have made a solid step in the right direction.

Here's the thing. You and your husband have trained him to be this way. It is going to take years to break this cycle. It's taken 5 years + to teach him this is how his life is supposed to be. So you are paying those consequences now.

Both you and dad need to go, run, to parenting classes and decide which method of parenting you are going to follow.

I do recommend Love and Logic. It makes so much sense. BUT in the meantime can you and dad go to a therapist who specializes in parenting stuff? You can't go cold turkey on this child because he is absolutely trained to do this by you. You and dad need to learn how to be different parents and you will break down and give in to him many times in the future because he's learned if he keeps at you long enough you'll cave in and give him anything he wants no matter how ridiculous it is, just to get him to stop crying or throwing a temper tantrum.

When my daughter was younger she told a therapist that if she badgered me and kept on it, no matter how nuts the thing was, that I'd give in about 80% of the time. She wasn't wrong.

I learned, in therapy, how to stop and think through what she was trying to get me to do. If I told her to stop, that I'd think about it and give her an answer later she needed to learn that if she didn't then she couldn't do it. But if she gave me the time I might still come back with a NO answer.

The biggest thing he did say was that I needed to make sure that I didn't say NO to something that I really didn't mind her doing or that I really wanted her to do or us to do as a family. Because the chances of caving and doing it anyway were very tempting.

For instance. If she was badgering me to go to the mall with friends to walk around, she was 10 so obviously NOT a choice I'd say yes to, but she thought if she kept at me I'd finally say yes so I could have some quiet, well, as a consequence I might, instead, take away something she was really wanting to do. Like a best friends birthday party. If I really wanted her to do this, we'd already bought a really special gift, I was helping mom plan the party, etc....then the chances of her really getting to go to that party were extremely high. So taking it away wasn't going to be a good choice of punishment.

So you have to make sure what you do in the end is something that you are okay with.

He needs professional help for his parents. Not saying you're horrible! You have made mistakes, guess what? We all have made mistakes. We can learn and make better choices and get stronger so that we can say no and mean no.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You both need a parenting class. I feel bad for anyone else who has to deal with a 5 year old who gets his way ALL THE TIME. I can't imagine. My niece was like this, but at my house she follows our rules. She actually wrote a story at school about how much she loves our house because she craves the rules...even though that's not how she worded it as a 6 year old. She is made to behave and listen with us. She wasn't at home and now with a new baby they are struggling.

You and your husband need to get on the same page. Please tell him how embarrassing it will be when you are called to school because your son is acting that way. No one else will do what you all are doing for him - he has got to learn. And you two have got to stop NOW.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You created this mess and now you've got to clean it up. You and your husband need to be a united front.
Start with making a list of house rules -- make your son help.
We are polite - we say please and thank you.
No means no. If mommy says no, we will not fuss. If we do, we will sit in time out.
We all help with chores.
No hitting.
No spitting
No biting
We eat at the table.

Then... If the rules aren't followed, there will be consequences. Time out, no computer -- whatever. You must follow through. It will get worse before it gets better. You are the parent. It's time to suck it up and be one or your 5 year old brat will be a 15 year old monster before you know it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

123 magic. read it it will help get things back under controll. and family counseling will help too

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Take a parenting class with your husband. Ask you ped for a recommendation.

1 mom found this helpful
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