5 Yr Old Behavior at Home and in Kindergarten

Updated on September 13, 2008
S.D. asks from Moriarty, NM
14 answers

We have a 5 yr old grandson whom we have been raising on our own since he was 3. He just started Kindergarten this year and he has been acting out at school ie; throwing chairs when he does not get his way, getting in other students personal space, kicking and pushing while on the playground.... the list does go on.... oh and I sent him to his room on Tuesday and he decided to throw his hamper across his room into the door......
History; He has always had us to himself... he did not go thru the terrible 2-3 yr old behavior... We had a baby girl almost 1 yr ago and now he has to share us. I get angry with his behavior.. timeouts, taking his favorite toy for bad behavior... rewarding him with trinkets, zoo, McDonalds ect for good behavior ... WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO???? We have to go to a meeting with the Principal, Teacher and the school Counselor next Friday. They stated that they will not give up on him... I am so tired lately with a teething baby and I am having a hard time dealing with him at the same time. We do the special time with me and the special time with papa every week also... What else is there? oh yeah we did do the Dr Phil thing of taking everything out of his room except a pillow, blanket and his mattress, left the dresser too. He finally got his bed back up top where it used to be ( My husband made him a cool bed that is up in the air and has a fireman pole and ladder ) HELP PLEASE!!!

Some of you may be under the impression that I AM GIVING UP ON HIM. Rest assured I AM NEVER GIVING UP ON HIM....... I just need other ideas that I may not know of to help him out..... Yes he is angry he was abandoned by his parents!!! NOT US... he has to now share our time with our daughter who is turning 1 yr. Any POSITIVE advise will be welcome NO NEGATIVE please....

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answers from Las Cruces on

My name is gabriela and I had kind of the same problems as you did. The problem was that my son had ADD wich means in a way that he can't control his behavier. Have you taken him to the dr.? My son was no doing good in school and i noticed that her needed to wear glasses to see better that was another thing that was cuseing his behavior he couldn't see and make out what was written on the board and that was why he acted the way he did. What i did was i went to his dr. and picked up some behavieral forms to fill out one for the all the teachers that he sees and one form for my husband and me to fill out, then i took them back to the dr. and dr. dignosed him with ADD and got him started on Aderal 5mg. this med. so not bad my son has done so much better in class and in the house with this med. he needed to be put to 10mg but that was to keep the med. working at home as well one caples that can be broken and the med can be put apple sauce or pudding in the moring after he eats breckfast. take the frist step and get the forms and i would really like to know how this works for you or not because i do have other ideas that i got from a child sycoligist that my son went to for a time at a military base. in case you would like to keep in touch my e-mail is ____@____.com would like to know how thing go write anytime you would like later and i hope that you all find you way with each other Blessed Be

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answers from Albuquerque on

It sounds to me like this little guy is mad. I can certainly understand your frustration - it IS tiring to deal with kids who are really out of whack. I would encourage you to get a break, or some help yourself, so you can find the energy to really help your grandson. Giving up on him is a really terrible idea. In the end, you will only increase your heartbreak, and lose respect for yourself. If you are really feeling this way, you need some help so you can work this through.

There is a reason your grandson is mad. I would NOT continue taking things away from him, or rewarding him when he is good. I agree with Elizabeth on this point - it is coercive and damaging to the relationship. I would encourage you to listen to him - ask him why he is mad. Take him seriously, and be kind to him. That is not the same thing as being permissive, or giving him "things". He needs support and help. Teach him how to express anger without being out of control. Give him "angry" things to do that are OK. When my three year-old daughter is mad, she knows she is allowed to lie on her bed and kick her pillows HARD, she can jump on the trampoline, or go in her room and yell. Kids need to know what to do with these strong feelings. They need us to teach them.

It sounds to me like you also might be mad about having to do so much. for your grandchildren. If you aren't sure how to deal with your own angry feelings, it will be more challenging to help your grandson. But by helping him learn, you could also help yourself. I would consider talking to his counselor at school, and asking for some help for your own feelings as well.

Good luck!



answers from Phoenix on

I can feel your pain. . Remember this saying. "This to shall pass"
Our son is almost 7 and we went through the same thing. We were always called at school. He threw temper tantrums etc. Stick to your guns. 123 magic is a great book. If you dont have it go get it. He needs to know their are consequences for his behavior. Dont forget rewards.You need to maintain control for him to learn control.We still are not out of the woods with our son and may never be. However we are making lots of progress. I have no doubt he will be a great leader some day. Just think of all the stuff you can hold over his head when he has cildren of his own. LOL I wish you the best. Feel free to write to me if you need more reassurance. On a spiritual side God gave you this child for a reason. He knows you can raise him well. Married with 2 children diffenet as night and day.N.



answers from Albuquerque on

I'm obviously not an expert at this but it sounds like he's having a hard time dealing with the real world because you spoil him at home. In my home, we do not reward for good behaviour. Good behavior is expected, not rewarded. We tell our son (who is now six) him how is expected to behave. When he behaves well, we give him positive reinforcement with WORDS and hugs, not presents. I'm thinking that at school, they're not constantly rewarding him with presents and he doesn't understand why. He probably figures that if he's not getting rewarded, then he is being bad so just decides to act out and throw a tantrum to fulfill how he feels he's being labled due to not getting rewarded every minute.

Try and have a talk with him when everything is calm (not when he's in trouble) and tell him how is is EXPECTED to act at school and at home. Tell him he will no longer receive presents when he behaves well due to the fact that he is now a big boy and is old enough to know how he should act at school and at home and what the consequences will be if he doesn't. Also start giving him positive verbal and physical reinforcement. Really be specific with him on how he is to act in certain situations. He needs to know. Tell him how you want him to act...not how he shouldn't act. For example, before you go to the store, tell him...."We are going to the store to get groceries and we are only buying what is on that list. There will be not candy or toys bought today. I expect you not to ask for anything that is not on our shopping list. If you do, you will go to bed early tonight. Is that understood?" Make sure his is clear and question him on what you just told him to make sure he gets it. Make sure he agrees on what is expected and what the consequence will be if he breaks the agreement. Then, get him involved in the shopping and give him the list and have him help you. Kids love that.

Do this in every instance where he's thrown fits before. I'd also suggest that you get him counseling to work on the abandonment issues by his parents. Although you have raised him, I'm sure that he's feeling rejected from his parents. Good luck.



answers from Tucson on

Hi Sharon,

You are not alone in this. Our son was the same in Kindergarten. What helped our son was getting him into Karate. We put him into West Coast Martial Arts here in Tucson, Az, and his sensai whipped him into shape. Not literally, but we saw a big change in his behavior at home and at school within 2 weeks. I am not saying that this is the only answer, but, I bet if you get him into something like that that will teach him focus and concentration and the such it will help a lot. Other then that our boy has sensory integration issues and well as fine motor skill problems which did not help. Every child is different, but if you are in Tucson and would like to try it out. my son attends Martial Arts at Wilmot and Golf Links at West Coast Martial Arts and it turned my son around real fast. He is even getting better grades in school now.




answers from Phoenix on

I would recommend reading 2 books that I have just read recently.

Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman

I hope that helps. They are great books.

Love, D.



answers from Phoenix on

I say seek some one else's help he seems angry & may not be able to talk to you about it. Not that your a wonderful mom but he just cant. Try counseling. Also adhd does not mean the child is bi-polar. They are in the same family but not the same thing. My family has a history of bi-polar i have one nephew who is bi polar ( he is extremely violent moody cant control his emotions crys alot) another is adhd and he is crazy hipper has trouble sitting still, listing, behaving properly in class. They are different. The bi polar one is medicated made a huge improvement the other is not mom is working with his foods and other things to see if it helps.
I just shared this because so many people think these are labels put on children by lazy parents. It is not true nowadays people have noticed from years of misdiagnosed children and adults that these are real disorders.



answers from Tucson on

Dear Sharon-
Although my son was not violent, he was uncooperative in school. I had the school institute a check-sheet daily. E-mail if you'd like a sample (to be modified to suit your needs.) That said, if there is any chance that he was exposed to drugs as a very young child or in utero, please take him to a pediatrician and a neurologist for an evaluation. He sounds as if he is under a lot of stress. Some ADHD children act like he is doing when the world (and other children and the ambient noise around them) gets to be too much. Do not allow placement in special ed. or behavior disorder classes until you are absolutely sure that it is necessary- you have gone through all the medical stuff- if that is negative, a child psychologist- play therapy is great! Also- he is now in a safe place, and may be allowing himself to finally react to whatever it was that happened to him before you got him.. This would be totally normal. In that case, do not send him to kindergarten this year- hold him back for a year. He will do better when he is older. Sometimes the academic demands made on children siince NCLB are just too much to handle, especially for little boys. Hope it helps- S.



answers from Austin on

I agree about martial arts. Be sure to be in continual communication with the sensai. He will be a huge support!



answers from Anchorage on

Hi Sharon -

Have you talked with him to find out what's going on inside? If not, try sitting down with eye (eye to eye level) and ask him what's making him so angry. If he tells you he doesn't know - and he might - then ask him to describe how it feels inside when he gets that angry. Look for colors, shapes, hot/cold - then ask him what he thinks he might be able to do instead of throwing things around. Listening to what he says and then repeating his own words back to him - so he knows you heard him - may help him open up. Look for similarities in feelings when he has these outbursts at home and at school.

Let me know if I can help in any way.


M. M. Ernsberger
Life Coach - for Children & Families



answers from Phoenix on

It is very unfortunate that current fashion in working with kid's behavior focuses on these little band aid consequences (negative positive) Whenever you apply leverage (esp pre-determined punishment/ rewards in an intimate relationship with an adult or child, you damage the relationship. It is like saying..."I can not trust you...so I am going to do "x" or "y" to make sure you do what I want." Kids are smart...this is coersion plain and simple.
Do many parents and teachers use this? Yes, if even just a little. But the least stressed parents and teachers do not use this kind of stuff very often at all. They rely on the strength of the relationship with the student/child to cause the child to want to please the adult.
This is a natural state of affairs. It also requires less effort..vigilance and monitoring. Parenting was not meant to be such a chore we have made it out to be.
You may want to read stuff written by Gordon Neufeld and others with a similar theory. Find expert help that will strengthen your relationship with your grandson rather than straightjacket it. Good luck.


answers from Phoenix on

Hi Sharon,

My heart goes out to you. We have been experiencing something very similar with our 2nd son who is 8 years old. He has always been on the "challenging" side -- but this summer he went full blown IMPOSSIBLE. He was angry about EVERYTHING and EVERYONE and ANYTHING. It was horrible to see him so miserable. Nothing we did helped and I felt like I was failing as a mother. I was literally at my wits end and felt so frustrated with my lack of ability to help him. His anger was not appropriate for his bahavior, and I started to worry about what would happen in the future. We tried EVERYTHING and felt like we had exhausted all of our resources. Then I realized and accepted that we needed help from a 3rd party. Long story short...we found the most fantastic counselor who has helped us TREMENDOUSLY, and the changes in our son have been nothing short of remarkable. When kids get angry, we may not understand the reason for their anger, but how often do we get mad over stuff that doesn't make sense to anyone else? I cannot tell you how much good will come from seeing someone who can help your little guy deal with his anger and help you learn how to deal with him. I live in the west valley and can recommend our counselor if you're interested. Otherwise, ask around and you'll be surprised how many people will know of someone. I cannot sing our counselor's praises enough. She is amazing and I thank God we found her. Feel free to drop me a line if you'd like her info. The practice she's in is off of Thunderbird and 83rd Ave. Best of luck to you.

(SAHM of 3 boys and another one due in 7 weeks!)



answers from Phoenix on


It did not sound like you want to give up on your 5 yr old...just a mom/grandma who needs some support....you have a right to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. I believe most moms here get that:) This little guy is going through some stuff yes? My first thought was that since turning 5 and starting Kinder, he's starting to question things more and maybe see other kids parents at school..."where are my parents?"....things like that. It sounds like he is just angry and needs help learning how to express himself in a more appropriate way. It seems like you and your husband are doing many good and positive things for him and with him, as well as letting him know that his behavior is not acceptable. Keep that up! **Remember to let him know it's his BEHAVIOR you don't approve of, not him. Kids really really need to hear that they are still loved even though they act uncontrollable. I'm sure you know this..I just want to validate you on doing an amazing job at raising your grandson and your own daughter....which is probably another trigger for his anger. Maybe he's thinking,"if she's here, they might love her more than me, and they'll leave me." I don't know for sure what's in his mind, but abandonment issues run really really deep. It's also GREAT that his teachers, principal are so supportive and compassionate with him.
I also suggest not relying so much on rewards and punishments. You are doing the best you can with the resources you have, and that's great. However, it is true that rewards/punishments for children's behavior just doesn't work all that well. Sometimes it may be called for, but mostly you want to strengthen his ability to make good choices because he understands that it is the better thing to do...not because he's going to get a toy or treat for it. Focus on his PROCESS and not the end result. Sincerely praise him when he does act appropriatly or makes better choices. Use positive language instead of negative language. Help him understand the rules of the house and school. Use natural and logical consequences. It takes time, but with support and a strong alliance between you and your husband it will get better for him and you.
From your email, I believe that most likely is just behavior issues he's going through....trying to express himself - but just doesn't know how to control his feelings and actions. But you could also look into other things that could trigger such behavior. Believe it or not, some children have REALLY STRONG BEHAVIORAL REACTIONS to certain foods! It might be difficult to pinpoint, but it could be an option to look into. What exactly triggers his outbursts? Certain time of day? AFter or before eating?, Is he overstimulated? Overwhelmed - difficult time processing things? (check out Sensory Processing Disorder). I'm not a ADD/ADHD advocate...I'm not even sure it's a valid diagnosis, so I would be leary of anyone who labels him as such and wants to put him on meds. I watched a PBS special about children being diagnosed ADHD, and it turns out they are really have bi-polor disorder! I don't want to alarm you, just really get lots of opinions and do you research before turning to an easy fix - like meds for ADHD or something. Again, I'm just throwing out some other possibilities for you to think about. OFten when we are in the middle of the storm we can't see the sunshine outside the clouds:)
One of the things I would try for your little guy, is Art Therapy. So many times, kids really really dont' know how to put thier feelings into words, but ART...they can do that! They can splash paint, scribble, color their way through their feelings. If you get a really great therapist who works with art therapy, it can work amazingly well. I highly recommend art therapy. Unfortunatly I don't have a clue as to who is a great therapist for this avenue. In the classes I teach (pregnant women), we use Birth art as a way to express fears, wishes, dreams, etc and it always amazes me at how well it helps these couples work through some of their issues about labor/birth etc. You can lots of info on the internet about art therapy. Puppets are A GREAT way to get kids to talk. They will do and say almost anything to a sock puppet:) Maybe try having a puppet show in a similar (not exact) situation that he's been through and demonstrating a positive way to deal with it.
Another suggestion - and it takes a very open mind to try it - but you can try Energy work with him. check out www.quantumpathics.com for more info on how this works. Sherry Anshara is the medical intuitive who can help your grandson release some of his fears, anger, sadness etc. I've personally been to her and she helped me tremendously. She doesn't claim to be a "healer", just someone who completely understands how our subconcious works with our energy fields - or bands as she calls them. It's all based on Quantum Physics. I know she's worked with many children. Again, it is something you either have to be comfortable with, or just go outside your comfort zone a bit.
I hope this helps you. I'm sure you will get alot of other great suggestions and support from the mamasource moms. It's a great community. I wish you and your family lots of good energy for emotionally healthy and happy days together. Keep going, rest if you must, but keep going...he needs you, and you will get through this.

PS...I just read another moms suggestion of delaying Kinder for a year...I have to agree. 5 is a young age for ANY kid to start school in my opinion - boys especially because they develop a bit later than girls, and since he's needing some extra TLC now...why not waiting? I'm sure you like/need the rest:) But perhaps you can get him into a Montessori or Waldorf type of preschool a few days a week so you can rest and just be with your daughter.

In Peace,
mom of 4, married 14 yrs, Birth and Parenting Mentor



answers from Flagstaff on

Hi Sharon,
I understand...I went through a divorce about 7 years ago and my son seemed well with it, until about a year later having these tantrums that were so uncontrollable it was scary...I didn't think it had to do with the divorce yet the more that I worked with him the more that I realized he was mad at his dad and since his dad wasn't around he would vent his anger on me. If he had problems at school, it came around to be my fault, etc...He was out of control...

I have to say that I have been working with him a lot and each year (and his teachers will agree) he has improved... he's very immature at 12 years old- he acts more like an 8 year old...

I felt like you wanting to give up to send him away I couldn't be his mom, I loved him and couldn't help him, I was making things worse...I started to keep a journal and write down the things he would do and I would look back on it periodically seeing that okay his tantrums were 30 minutes long, hey now they're only 25 minutes long (great) after I cried myself to sleep...I had to keep reminding myself on a daily basis that he is/will changing, this will pass-slow for sure yet he now his tantrums only consist of a little whine, sniffle and he's moving on..
my next goal is to get rid of that which this school year he seems to be understanding and is starting to change once more

my suggestion for you is to remember that it's hard to see the end of the tunnel when you're in the middle and it's dark..the light will come yet it will happen when it's supposed to...find a really good counselor because he's obviously dealing with the anger of where is my mother and my father they don't love me, etc. a second suggestion is to make sure that you find things that you like to do for yourself or it'll feel like he's sucked the energy from you so you won't be able to give to him....
I feel for you looking back through my journal, now I don't write in it, I keep it to remind me that things pass, just be patient and breathe...

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