5 Year Old Making Me Crazy. Is This Normal?

Updated on April 16, 2008
C.C. asks from Keller, TX
21 answers

I'm really having a hard time with my 5 year old. I know a lot of it has to do with me, because I'm so stretched thin right now. My husband works ALL the time and I have to get kids ready, off to school, then work, pick up, evening routine. . . .cleaning etc etc with very little help and I'm frazzled.

He seems to not be able to play alone lately. I get him going on a game or a video or something and try to sneak off and get some laundry done but then 5 minutes later he's calling for me. . .I got him a video earlier today, then he decided he wanted to color so I got that for him. . . then he calls me saying he wants to do something else.

At times I lose my patience and yell at him which is horrible. But I just get at my whit's end that he can't seem to entertain himself for 5 minutes. :(

I'm just starting to wonder if this is normal. . . and if not is it something that I need to fix about ME or something that I need to work on in HIM. I feel like the worst parent ever today.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much for your thoughtful, sweet replies.

We're going to the park today and play. . .:)

I totally agree with what some of you are suggesting. First off I get zero time alone to just be me. And that has been stressing me out. Yesterday I was needing to make a personal phone call for about an hour. . and had to go out and sit in the car so I could have time to do it. I'm sure the neighbors wondered what I was up to.

But also I do agree the kids just miss me. I don't do a lot of chores during the week so we have more time together but then by Saturday the house was such a wreck it was stressing me out. I am torn because I need to do some cleaning, but yet I really just want to hang out with my kids because I miss them and don't have enough time with them any more. It's a strange irony that the reason I feel stressed is that I have to work and I don't have enough time with them. . .and I'm cranky and taking it out on the kids. . . that's sort of backwards huh?

After I wrote this I had my kids help me finish up some laundry so then we had more time together for awhile. It was nice. The problem was the house had gotten really bad because I haven't taken time to clean it the last couple weeks. Two weeks ago my hubby was in the hospital and last week I was just trying to get unburied from laundry and basics.

Anyway thanks for your sweet replies and I think I might take Maggie's suggestion to leave them for an extra hour some night at daycare and just CHILL on my own. What a great idea! Or take an hour to go to the garden center and find some pretty flowers to plant. I hadn't thought of that. I feel as soon as I'm done working I have to rush and get the kids. I even take 30 minutes only for lunch because I feel guilty if I take an hour that's 30 minutes more away from them. But having a crabby mother is not any fun. They'd be better off away from me for an hour more here and there and not have me so snappy! :)

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F.O.

answers from Dallas on

What works for me is while I am doing laundry or just doing what have to do after getting out of work I have my 5 yr old where I could get her into another project, I have to ask her to wait when I cannot put down what I have started. You just have to be created because every child is different.

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T.O.

answers from Dallas on

I think it's normal.

While you're driving home in the evening with him (and the other one), tell him what you have to do and that you'd like them to help so you can all get done earlier. Then let them choose an activity they want to do with you for 30 minutes. Watch tv, play a game, read a book out loud, whatever. Hopefully it'll help.

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C.P.

answers from Dallas on

Hello C.,

I feel for you. Part of is normal... he wants to be whichever room you're in. see what he can 'help' you with. I know your time is very short. does he like when you tell him stories? how about you tell him a story while you start the laundry. Make one up as you go along? he just wants to see you and hear you. reasure him that you love him and tell him about when he was a baby. I remember my son used to think that it was so funny when I told him that before he was born he was smaller than a mosquito.
start using a timer. start small. set it for 2 minutes and tell him you'll be back in 2 minutes when the timer goes off and then start stretching it little by little. maybe he can help you w/ dinner. pretend you're building a restaurant... get the tables set, start cooking the food.. and he can be the customer who orders the special of the day. make up funny names for the food. I actually bought used some sand toys to shape the food (like rice) before putting it on the plate. I don't get to do it too often, it does work from time to time.
talk with him, ask him questions about his favorite characters, etc. tell him about when you were little, tell him abou this grandparents, etc. also, make sure he's feeling OK. does he have allergies and just feeling miserable and that's why he wants you all the time? check his diet. does it get worse when he eats any specific foods, sugars, etc.? can he go on a playdate so you get a bit of time to get things done? can teh 8 yr old help him? help you?
Last but not least, pray =) ~C.~

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P.M.

answers from Dallas on

I read something once about how it seems like the only time kids really need you is at the end of the day when you are trying to get dinner ready, clean up the house, start bedtime, etc. It's like they sense that you are trying to focus on something else and that's when they decide they need your undivided attention. :-)

The article went on to say Stop, Sit Down and give your child the attention they need. Everything else (although it doesn't seem like it) can wait. If you don't give them the attention they need when they need it the situation may worsen. He may start doing things to get your attention like putting things in the toilet, drawing on the walls, etc.

Try slowing down and asking him if he needs you. Sit down and cuddle him for about 3-5 minutes with your undivided attention and you both may feel better for it.

And believe me, I understand that it's annoying and that it's easy to lose your patience - I have a 3 year old that's part tazmanian devil. All I hear is "Look Mom" "Look at me" all the time. But when I sit with him and stop what I'm doing it really makes a big difference.

Good luck!

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P.F.

answers from Dallas on

I believe that the answer is quite simple, he just wants time with YOU! I don't want to sound mean but kids really don't want things, they want time, with their parents doing things together....I remember those days all too well, next thing you know your child will be grown up and on his own and you'll wish you had spent more time with them.....laundry and dishes will always always be there, but 5 years old is only 12 months, then in a short couple of years he won't WANT to spend any time with you, only with his friends.....try to take a break from all your "chores" and enjoy your little boy.... Good Luck to you

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L.T.

answers from Dallas on

Hi C., My name is L., Our lives get so hectic sometimes is it so easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of trying to make a living and all the responsibilities in everyday life. You are not a terrible mom. It is just so tuff in society these days. My suggestion to you is to set a day each week, You and hubby and children and be silly, fun, and just concentrate on family. One day to let the house and everything go to the side and enjoy eachother, you will be suprised how it can make you feel refreshed and satisfied in life and you will not feel as drained as well. Good Luck and GOD BLESS YOU.

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M.C.

answers from Dallas on

Hi Chris,

It's me; M.! I've been reading a book lately, which I highly recommend, called "The 5 Love Languages for Kids." I'm working to get a better grip on how to relate to Andrew and fill his love tank. THe premise of the book is that we all have a primary love language and feel most loved when others speak it to us. It sounds like your son's love language might be "quality time." If you've been running a mile a minute lately, his love tank might need some topping off.

Maybe if you sit down and watch the video with him for a few minutes before sneaking away to toss in the load of laundry, he might be more willing to let you do what you need to do. Or let him help you do the laundry, cook dinner, etc. If that is his primary language, he won't care what you do as long as you're doing it together. Give me a call and I can read you some of the other suggestions for filling a child's need for quality time. It's a pretty lengthy list!

BTW, the other love languages are physical touch, words of affirmation, receiving gifts and acts of service. Most of us may like several of these things and yet feel most loved by a particular one.

Take care,

M.
"My son eats all his veggies now. Even the green ones!"
www.GoodHealthMadeSimple.com/M.

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T.C.

answers from Dallas on

C.,
Kids go through so many phases, that at times it is hard to know if concern is deemed important. And, I am no expert in this field myself!
Maybe if you could find something he really loved getting into, it would hold his interest, and he would not be distracted so much by your absence.
The library and museums helped my daughters solve this problem with their children. They let mom know what they liked, and my daughters took it from there!
Mothers days out could be of some assistance in this, also, or Church Sunday School or preschool teachers, they can let you in on what seems to be of particular interest to him. With my own kids, (grown up now, and Mothers), finding things that would hold their attention, seemed to give me the time I needed for other things! Perhaps this is of no help to you, and I wish you the best!

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M.H.

answers from Dallas on

C., you have received a lot of good advice on how to get your five year old to play or help you so he can be with you and scheduling family time with the kids and with the whole family, one thing is missing... You need to have time to replenish yourself. You are working plus taking care of the kids and the home. This is a recipe for short tempers, lack of patience, etc. Take time for yourself. Once a week or more, leave work early and have time for yourself before you pick up the kids, or get a babysitter every other week or so to recharge so you are not so frazzled. I have been in your shoes, and if you don't take time for yourself and to enjoy the kids, you are going to regret it later. No one can go go go without a break. May be your husband can pick up one day for him to take care of the kids and the cooking etc so you can just enjoy the kids when you get home, or have a little time for yourself. Your son misses you and that is a wonderful thing! Spend time with him when you first get home, at least 30 min., then ask him to come help you in whatever you will be doing or he can do something on his own or with his 8 year old sibling. So what if the chores take longer or the dishes are not done... there's always tomorrow! Enjoy the sweetness and love from your little ones, before you know it they'll be teenagers! :-) Don't let work and chores control your life!

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J.C.

answers from Dallas on

Hi C.,

I can relate to how you are feeling. I think all parents have lost their patience now and then. I wonder if you could show your five year old a picture schedule for the time that he is home with you in the afternoon. I used a picture schedule for my 4 and 5 year old in the summer. It was very broad. I just sketched stick figures. I had broad catagories like "Play Time", "Rest Time", "Lunch", etc. I just drew the pictures on a piece of construction paper and taped it on the wall in the kids' room.

You might want to put "Play with Mom", "Play Alone", "Dinner", "Bath Time", "Books", etc. You may want to explain during "Play with Mom" time you may choose to read a book together, play a game together, etc. You could set the timer and explain this is how much time we have. If we don't finishe the game in time then I will finish it later if I can get my work done. If you allow me to get my work done, I will have time to finish the game before bed, if not we can finish it tomorrow at "Play with Mom" time. If your child complains point to the schdule and say it's time for ______. Assure him that you will try and finish your work really fast, maybe he could even help you so that you can have more time together.

The schedule gave my kids a sense of control, because they knew what to expect each day. The five year old would run in and point to what was next on the schedule when it was time to do the next thing. If I had to change the schedule I would just tell the kids about the schedule change and show them during this time we normally do this, but today we will do_________. I hope this is helpful!

I also think "Love and Logic" by Jim Fey and Foster Cline is great. I'm trying to implement their parenting strategies.

J.

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L.W.

answers from Dallas on

HI C.,
kids pass through stages so quickly. Do not stress over this one too much. I would encourage you to talk to him about what you need to do. GIve him an amount of time that is all his...and play with him for that time. Then tell him you need 20 - 30 minutes of him playing by himself so you can attend the list of things that need doing. You are around, he can see you, but now it is his time to play by himself. SEt a timer and let him watch the time click by. At the end of that time, give him undivided play time again...10-15 minutes. The stages really do pass quickly. The fact that you even care about you and him in this stage is proof of what a great mom you are.

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E.P.

answers from Dallas on

I know just what to do:

Ask him to join you in doing whatever chore it is that needs doing!! There's is always an age-appropriate way to involve children in your chores.

Two things could happen:
1) He will sit at your feet and happily sort socks for you while you fold clothes and the two of you could actually spend some quality time chatting about his day while he helps.

OR . . .

2) He will disappear whenever there's work to be done!

Either way is good. : ) Have fun! This time goes by fast and you will miss these days.

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B.P.

answers from Dallas on

Dear C.,
What an intelligent boy! He wants you. I know you are stretched thin and what you have described has symptoms that I am VERY familiar with from my own past. God has a way of speaking through our children when something need to realigned in our lives, our marriages, and our hearts. Please consider looking into 3 things and feel welcome to speak with me about any of them because I know my family and I were lead to them all by God. Pathways Core Training(www.createagreatlife.org), Relationship Rich(www.relationshiprich.org) and Love and Logic.
Our behavior shapes our lives and how it progresses. I found my light again by going to each of these programs and learning how very powerful I am as a woman, a wife, and a mom. Each of these provided an instant group of like-minded people that were there for results and change that I could lean on and they could lean on me.
It was what I needed to create what I wanted and what God wanted for me.
I hope to hear from you.

Sincerely,
B.([email protected]____.com)

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R.S.

answers from Dallas on

My son is the EXACT way(also 5). Except he won't last more than 2 minutes. He yells for me the whole time he takes a bath(I am in bedroom, can see him) asking me to look at something or play the diver game with him. He has always been this way. My daughter was the opposite when she was that age. I always had to go check on her to make sure she was OK because I didn't see her for so long. She would sit in her room and look at books, stack blocks, color, play dolls, etc. She would do activities for an hour easy without so much as a word. My son doensn't even enter his room except to sleep. I think all kids are just different. I know how frustrating, and lets be honest here, annoying it is. I have tried playing with him more often, doing activities outside, getting sister to entertain, etc. The only thing that works a little is play dough. He loves it and will play with it. I have to "look" pretty often and it is a big mess but usually worth it. Good luck and hang in there. And try the play dough.

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T.N.

answers from Dallas on

I have 3 boys ages 8, 6 and 3. My oldest boy (when he was younger) and youngest boy are (were) very much like your 5 year old. They were or are constantly wanting me to play with them. My oldest boy is out of that phase now and the 8 and 6 year old play pretty well together. What I have learned that works is telling him first thing in the morning what our plans are for the day. ex: "Mommy has laundry and some cleaning to do today. This is my job. Do you want to know what your job is today? (Tell them it is to play or give them an age-appropriate chore to do) After we finish our jobs, then mommy will play a game with you or take you to the park, etc.." Tell him that if he keeps interupting you, that it will take you longer to do your job and then you can't play with him. I think some kids are more needy than others; however, the main issue you want to stress is that you are looking so forward to spending time with him after your jobs are completed. Tell him, "If any kid can do it, it's you because you are so creative. I'm so looking forward to hearing about your play/pretend adventures." Hope this helps! You are not a bad parent, just over-worked and tired. God loves you and is always there to be your source of strength.

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A.S.

answers from Dallas on

Sounds like maybe he just wants to spend more time with you.

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A.C.

answers from Dallas on

It sounds to me like your son just wants to be with you. What about having him help you do the laundry or the other tasks around the house? It won't be easy at first and will require a lot of patience but that way you get help with your cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc. and he gets to spend time with you and keep you company. I did that with both of my boys and they were very excited about helping me. Once they got their fill of my duties, however, they decided it was time to go play again. Hope this helps and good luck.

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D.M.

answers from Dallas on

yes
Let him help you sort laundry , make it a game by color
basically just let him hang out with you, make the bed together, you spray,he wipes with the dust cloth, you sweep let him hold the dustpan,there are a lot of little things he can do even help set the table, let him toss the salad ect....
color a picture with him(let him know just one or??)
his age loves to help and really feel that they are doing something and they are, just don't expect perfection

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M.G.

answers from Dallas on

Hi C.,

I am sorry to hear about how difficult it is for your 5 year old to be by himself for short periods of time. My son used to be like that when he was younger, and it was very difficult for me since, just like you, I couldn't get anything done. My suggestion to you is to give him a choice and say, "You can either play by yourself (or watch a video by yourself)," or you can come do laundry with me." (or whatever it is you need to do). If all he wants is to be in your presence, then he probably won't mind watching you do laundry, or load or unload the dishwasher. Perhaps eventually he will realize that your chores are boring, and he would rather play by himself. Good luck!

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J.H.

answers from Dallas on

It might be time for some family time... With you all always on the go maybe he needs some down time with mom and dad.
Alot of it is his age and his personality but if he has just started getting bad then it might be alot of what is going on at home with not understanding why dads gone all day.
He might just not like to play by himself. You might tell him that he needs to do this and what you are going to be doing and where and that you need to get this done and that you will in the other room for 20 min.
Then come back and check on him color with him alittle and then say ok I am going to do this I will be back in 10 min.
I had to do this with my boys alittle because I couldnt even pee without them in the room with me constantly.
Hope this help I feel your pain...

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L.A.

answers from Dallas on

Very simply, your son is craving your attention. You've admitted that you're spread too thin. He has no idea what that is or why. All he knows is that he sees very little of you and your husband.

I would make sure that you spend at least a half hour a day (more if possible) with just him - no video's, TV, games or anything else: just you two talking and having time together. Talk first, then maybe a book - but no TV, games etc as this isn't really engaging him.

This is something that my husband and I do when he comes home from work. My children know that mom and dad are going to spend the first 15 or so minutes before anything else. My children then know they can each spend time with daddy before bedtime. But there is no TV or games going on when he is with them.

I used to be in your shoes because I worked outside the home. When I had my second child, I quit my job and stayed home with my (now 4) kids. I will never go back because of many reasons. We struggle to make ends meet, but my kids are worth it to me. They certainly appreciate the time we have together. I'm not telling you to quit, but just spend as much time as possible with him - laundry can wait, he can't and is worth more.

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