5 Year Old Doesn't Listen

Updated on July 14, 2016
G.D. asks from Media, PA
10 answers

I have a 5 year old daughter who doesn't listen. She isn't a bad kid in the sense that she hits or does things purposefully bad. But when I ask her to do anything or tell her to stop doing something she throws a fit or just ignores me. I have taken things away from her, used time outs, and now all I do is scream. I can't do it anymore. Screaming is not my personality and it is everyday. Now when I tell her something I know is going set her off I feel like crying because I know in 5 minutes I will be screaming. The kicker is after I yell she does what I asked but then later that day it starts all over. She only does this behavior with my husband and I never with anyone else. I know 5 year olds are developing their own personality but why does she do this when she knows the ordeal that will follow and she will end up doing whatever it is I want her to do anyway? And I know I am trying to rationalize a 5 year olds behavior but when I was younger if my mom looked at my wrong I jumped right into line. Do you think she does this for my attention? I am home with her all day and work 2-3 days a week in the evenings but I am grasping at straws to find the remedy to this.
If anyone has any suggestions on how to help me with her behavior and a better way for me to not have to fly off the handle I would greatly appreciate it. Does anyone use those charts with like good stars and anytime they get so many stars they get rewarded. One of my friends mentioned it to me. I am truly at my wits end, and yesterday was her last day of school.

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answers from Philadelphia on

She is testing her limits to see how far she can go before you yell. To her, this is all a game, a form of entertainment so to speak. She pushes you because she knows she has a little more time before you really want her to obey. I recommend giving her one warning "Please pick up your toys or I will have to punish you". If she doesn't move immediately to pick up her toys, she receives her punishment- perhaps that punishment could be sitting in a chair for 5 minutes (using the age rule- one minute for each year), or the loss of a privilege, or going to bed early. Be sure to know what punishment you will use before you threaten, that way you can include that in the warning. If you feel you need to, use a timer "I am going to set the timer for 5 minutes, if your toys are not picked up when the timer beeps,(insert your punishment here)" Then be CONSISTENT. That is the key. Remember, she will not change overnight, and it won't be easy for you, but if you are faithful and consistent, she will realize that mommy & daddy are in charge and she needs to obey.
I also like the rewards system, but I don't believe it should be used alone. In addition to the discipline, it would be a great system; used alone I fear it might turn into a bribery system rather than a reward. She could earn stars for cleaning up, brushing teeth, etc., that could be her daily reward, then give her a larger goal to shoot for, after a determined number of stars, maybe a special outing to someplace she really wants to go. Just remember, at her age, it is hard for her to grasp the concept of time and it is more difficult for her to stay focused on a far off goal, so make the larger reward attainable.
I recommend the book by Dr. James Dobson "Dare to Discipline". It really helps to put discipline in perspective. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cedar Rapids on

My daughter is doing the same thing now! We went to the park on my day off and everything was too hot to use. So she says "mommy this is all your fault you should have known we couldn't play here". Yes its my fault because I wanted to come have fun with you and unfortunately the sun is beating down on this particular playground so you can't play AHHHH! she only listens when she wants something and after she gets it because she was good, all hell breaks later. It's a never-ending cycle. She isn't bad, or hurtful to others just very disrespectful in her tone and attitude towards only her dad and I. I'm lost. I've tried speaking to her the way I want to be spoken too, she is very stubborn.



answers from Pittsburgh on

you have to learn to pick your battles.because with kids or anyone else for that matter no one likes to be told what to do. you know you dont like it when people constanlly tell you what to you, why do you think a 5 year old is any different.

when you ask her to pick up her toys and she dont, ask yourself is it really important that this gets done right now? can it wait? is it worth a screaming fight? not really, and watch how you ask things, instead of saying'PICK UP YOUR TOYS" say things like, "Wow,look at this mess, lets pick this up so we can do something else, or so the dog wont eat them, or you dont step on them and hurt your foot" offer to help, if it looks like a mess to you, it looks like a nuclear explosion to a 5 year old.

but when it comes to things like running into the street, stand your ground. Tell her that you dont want her running into the street{or whatever it is} because she could get killed and it would make you very sad. she can understand this.

if you find your self ready to get into a battle of witts over something that really isnt so important walk away. dont say a word just walk away. soon she will know that she cannot make you freak out over every little thing and she will stop. and stop being so hard on yourself, whose expectations are you trying to live up to? she is your child, have fun with her while you can, soon enough she wont even acknowledge your existance in public. and dont try to control, allow. and watch and see what happens. you and your family dont have to fit into anyone elses idea of a perfect family but your own.



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi G.! When I taught Kindergarten for 4 years, I used a lot of positive reinforcement and behavior incentive charts. For example, each child had a pocket on the wall with a green (good behavior), yellow (warning card), and red card (loss of all priveleges) that I made out of construction paper. If they were behaving well and "stayed on green", they would earn the reward (e.g. playground time). For other children, I used a sticker chart. Draw 3-5 boxes on a piece of paper, and everytime she does something wonderful, add a sticker to the chart. If she fills all of the boxes, give her a reward at the end of the day.

To make this work, she has to know what your expectations are. She has to know and understand the rules. In my classroom, I had 3-5 rules posted at all times. If a child broke one of the rules, I gave them ONE reminder. I'd say, "Johnny, you know that raising your hand before you speak is one of our classroom rules. This is your reminder. If you do it again, your green card will change to yellow." Explain to her that throwing a fit or ignoring you is not what you expect from her. If she does do those things, there needs to be a consequence (whether it is spanking or time out - whatever method you've chosen).

Since you're home with her and her behaviors seem to be attention seeking, I would suggest making the rewards something where she will have your attention in a positive way (take her to the park, read her a favorite story, go out for some ice cream, etc). Make it fun for her when she behaves well, and praise, praise, praise her. When she disobeys, communicate your extreme disappointment. As hard as it may be, try not to yell. She will soon learn to tune you out if she hears that all day long, and that is certainly not what you want to happen.

Feel free to email me if you'd like to chat some more. I have a lot of ideas and different methods that I used to keep 23 little 5 yr olds under control without yelling.

I wish you the best!!! You CAN do this! =)




answers from Philadelphia on

When my son was around the same age he did the same thing. I guess it's an independence thing. They don't think they should have to listen to anyone b/c they think they know everything. I did try the reward chart idea and it did work but I didn't stick with it (simply b/c I would forget). My suggestion is to make sure that the rewards are things that you can easily follow through with. Try not to make it food if you can. I also did not use money (we give our son an allowance when he does chores around the house beyond taking care of himself and his things). We didn't want him to pay him for good behavior. His reward was usually doing something with me or my husband. So his reward was good attention but also doing something special like making brownies or cookies, doing a craft project together, going bowling or skating, etc. Once in awhile, I would use going for ice cream or something like that but I tried to avoid "just food" as a reward.

The reward chart worked pretty well when I remembered to use it but can I ask when you are giving timeouts where are you putting your child? I have noticed that as my son got older I started sending him to his room and it had no affect on him...timeouts lost all effectiveness. When I started putting him in a chair again they worked like a charm again. Just a suggestion, maybe you need to experiment with timeouts. My son hates sitting in a chair facing the wall with no one to look at and no one to talk to (and nothing to touch). It also helps if I make him sit for an entire 5 minutes quietly, one whiny comment and time starts over....it drives him crazy. Good luck.



answers from Reading on

I also have a 4.5 yr old that does the same thing. I am also at wits end. I can not even give you any advise except we have started our daughter is counseling since we don't know what else to do. She just started so I can't say it is helping or not.



answers from Pittsburgh on

my son just turned 6 and i have the same problem. when my boyfriend is at work and its just my son and his brother with me, he does the same thing but hes a hitter and kicker.. He has a wraparound thru the county and they told me dont give in and ignore him that is what really makes my son mad, but his councler said he had ODD opisitional defiance disorder is what it is i think i know its ODD... talk to Misty Isle Bridges they may help with ideas to deal with the problem i will look up the #3 for u if need to if ur in clarion county if not each county has help



answers from York on

Hi G.,

My boyfriend was having the same problem with his daughter, so trust me, I know how that goes. She is acting much better now, because I've pushed him to put his foot down.

She was a big one to throw temper tantrums, his solution was always the corner, and that doesn't work after a while. If she's playing with something, and doesn't stop when he or I ask, she gets warning, one the second one, I say if I have to tell you again, I'm taking it away. After having things taken away, quite a few times I might add, she learned her lesson. The problem he was having was being consistent. You have to always do it, not just when you have the patience to deal with it.

I have a black box of take aways. These are things that she either didn't put away, or got taken away for another reason. She has three times in the take away box, and then it's given to another little girl. That helps as well, because she sees it going in the box.

The chart is a good idea if you are consistent with it, and involve her, let her put the stickers on. We have a prize box, nothing fancy just a paper box, wrapped with paper and painted. Paige loved painting the box, and she knows, if she's good she gets something out of it.

I'm sorry to ramble, but being the girfriend that moved in with a lost dad, I really had to take over. My truly best advice is be consistent. Yes use the corner, but not for everything. If she's not listening to you, take away something she wants. No snack, you lose a toy for a day etc. It's not going to happen over night, but she'll get the hint.

Also, do things with her. I like crafts because it's something the kids can keep. The other day Paige and I made wax paper stained glass window ornaments. It was simple and easy, and she loved making something, and spending quality time together. www.enchangedlearning.com has wonderful ideas.

Good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

I completely agree with Andrea D. After a rough start with my firstborn (he's 19 now), we finally got it. It comes down to consistency, ONE warning, follow-through, all balanced with rewards for goals achieved. Give short but very clear directions.

I would add that you should not argue with your child. What I mean is, if your child says something like, "That's not fair." Don't start trying to convince her that you are being fair, for example. It takes two to argue. Tell her what you want, explain consequences, follow through. In calmer moments, be sure to discuss with her how to appropriately express her feelings. She can't yell at you or be disrespectful. And, of course, you have to model that behavior toward her, as well. Tell her that you are willing to listen to her when she wants to talk calmly to you, and that you will consider her feelings, but that you are mom and you will make the final decision. (This is a lot for a 5 yo tho! But you can address it in age-appropriate language.) As time goes on and her behavior is more "civilized" with you, you will expand your decision making to include her opinions when she expresses them respectfully. Right now at age 5, her decision making can be practiced by choosing between options that you determine, i.e., "Would you like to color or read a book?"

And know that there is no magic formula for making your child listen to you. You won't get results after just one or two tries at this. It's hard work. And when you are just mentally exhausted and start to think that it's easier just to give in to her or to yell, remember your long-term goal is to teach her right from wrong, respect for others and for her self, and of course, self-discipline. It takes quite a while, but once you get the ball rolling, you'll find life will be much less stressed. You and your child will feel secure in having a solid frame of reference as far as expectations and consequences.



answers from State College on

I'm starting to feel like a broken record b/c I recommend this so often, but I strongly suggest you consider borrowing or buying the book, "Try and Make Me!" (Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Try-Make-Me-Ray-Levy/dp/0451206452/...)

I have two sons with ADHD and one w/ ODD. This book is THE BEST I've read so far (and I've read a LOT of books - The Explosive Child, The Defiant Child, ODD and Your Child, etc., etc.).

If you truly want to stop yelling and take real steps to get her to listen and follow your requests, get the book.

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