6 Year Old Acting Out

Updated on May 11, 2007
S.M. asks from Canby, OR
10 answers

My 6 and 1/2 year old has been acting out severly over the past few months, I just gave birth to her first sibiling on April 13th. Celeste is great with her sister, better than I thought possible, she sings to her wants to partake in her care but with me she has become rude, disrespectful, has started lying and even stole $40.00 out of my purse. Everyone keeps telling me it is because of the baby but I dont see any negitive emotions towards her sister. I am a VERY strict mother and the behavior she has been showing lands her in a world of trouble, however I do not believe in spanking my children. I have grounded her, taken away computer time, tv time, toys even her favorite clothes to get the message accrossed to her to no avail! I am really unsire what to do to get her to understand that what she has been doing and the way that she has been acting is wrong, any suggestions????

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Things are still rough, Celeste loves her sister and is trying VERY hard to behave but she honestly doesnt realize what she is doing sometimes, I am trying harder to just be patient with her and myself, I know that we will work though it :D

Featured Answers



answers from Seattle on

Most likely she is blaming you instead of her sister...and she is noticing the difference in the way you treat both of them (the NECESSARY difference, since one is a newborn). My daughter is the same age, but when my son was born, she was only 3 1/2. Her way of acting out was to do anything she could to get my attention...and it was REALLY annoying. At 6 1/2 now, she can really tell me why she's acting out, so after she does something unacceptable (two days ago, in a fight with her brother, now almost 3, she bloodied his nose!), she does get punished, but then we have a LONG talk about why she was doing what she was doing. The more she can express to you her frustration, her distance, and the feelings behind her actions, the better she'll feel. She needs to know you want to listen to her, want to be around her. But if she gets a lot of negative attention from you, she may at least be glad to get any attention, and her negative behavior may escalate. If you keep communication very open with her at this point, though, and be honest with her (and let her be honest with you), you're building a line of communication that will be crucial when she gets older.
I wish you luck. I hope all goes well!

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Seattle on

I wouldn't exactly say that "it's because of the baby," but that because you now have a newborn to care for, your older daughter isn't getting your attention whenever she wants it, the way she is used to. It is a good thing that she isn't harming the baby. You might try allowing her to help you care for the baby for starters (if you don't already). It will allow her to spend some time with you (even though it isn't alone time) and grow a close bond with her sister at the same time. You should also try to find some time each day (even if it is only 30 or 60 minutes) to spend alone with your older daughter...this will give her the alone time that she so desperately needs. You should also explain to her that this is your special time together that you set aside just for her, but she needs to understand that unless it is your special time, that you need to do other things, like takign care of the baby. Knowing that she will have some time with you all to herself may get rid of most of the bad behavior towards you. She may need help remembering that new babies don't know how to do anything for themselves and that you have to help them do it for a while and then teach them to do it on their own when they are old enough...perhaps ask if she remembers no knowing how to tie her shoes or something significant that she had to work very hard to learn to do...or show her pictures of you teaching her to walk, etc. Good luck to you. I know how hard it can be to get time alone with tiny ones around...especially if you are nursing! Remember, it won't last forever!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

The first few months are rough when you have a new baby and an older child. We recently had our second son and we have a 3 year old son. The 3 year old is very kind and loving toward the new baby, but he has definitely been acting out more. I think your daughter's behavior is an attempt to get your attention. The punishments are actually achieving exactly what she wants. I would suggest spending some special time alone with your older daughter on a regular basis, maybe take her to the movies or the park or some other activity she enjoys. I know finding the extra time can be difficult, but I think it would pay off.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

She isn't angry with the baby but with mom for replacing her. She is correct to be acting out toward you and thankfully she isn't "sneaking" and doing things to the baby. Encourage her to talk about her anger and fears and reassure her that you will never have another "first daughter" and affirm her special place in the family, beyond being a big sister. She hasn't had much time to adjust to the reality of this new family. Stay calm and don't overreact by being too harsh. She needs your time and attention and, like all kids, will get it any way she can. You need to schedule "dates" for the two of you and with her and her dad. She is old enough to require space away from the new nursery. Be patient and confident that the principles you have instilled in her are there, just hiding under some layers of fear and confusion. Good luck. My oldest daughter had just turned nine when our son was born and even she had some adjustments to make. We all did. After four, I can tell you that one on one time with each child is an absolute requirement, no matter how you make it happen. We have slumber party turns, where one at a time gets parents room and snacks and movie choices and one parent to themselves, whatever you can afford and imagine. Hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Good Morning S.~
Ugh!!! I remember these days. My oldest was doing similar things after his little brother came home. I too am a strict parent and did the same discipline actions you have done. After speaking to our doctor and other moms that I know, we determined he was jealous. Since babies require more attention for the few months it is difficult for an older sibling to understand that. What your little one is doing is trying to get attention in the best ways that she knows how. Yes while she is gentle and kind to her baby sister she is jealous of her. The 6 yr old isnt number one anymore and her little mind doesnt understand that. She having been an only child for 6 years, meant she didnt have to share mommy and daddy with anyone and now she does. The best way I found to get my son over that was to let him be involved in almost every aspect of the baby as possible. Some examples are: diaper changes, feeding time(let him be right there with us) helping to put the baby down for nap, or bed time etc. Just anything you can think of, this way they are getting your time too and dont feel like they arent important anymore.
I hope this helps
Good Luck,



answers from Portland on

It is very difficult for both you and your daughter. I also think that special alone time with you having fun will help. But I'd also like to suggest that you ease up on the punishments so that she can talk with you about her feelings. The goal of discipline is to teach good behavior. Strict punishment might teach the child to behave but it also forces feelings underground.

I think that instead of taking things away from her it would help if you disciplined in a way that is more connected to what she did. For example, for stealing money from your purse she does extra chores to "pay you back." And discipline is always done with love instead of anger and frustration. If you have to, wait until you calm down before you discipline. Discipline is a several year process and doesn't have to be rushed into. You should stop her when you see her doing what she's not supposed to do but if you're angry, tell her that you will give her a consequence after you take a time out.

Speaking of time outs, that could be an effective discipline to use consistently. Super Nanny calls it standing on the naughty mat. Use the time out for everything. It will take some concentrated effort and time to get this in place so that she will take the time out.

One of the reasons for time outs is to give the person the time to think thru what has happened. After the time out then discuss, again in a calm manner, what has happened and how she could have handled her feelings in a more positive way.
When you tell her that you are taking a time out before disciplining her you are showing her a way to deal with anger and frustration. A time out for a parent isn't literally sitting down and thinking. Do whatever helps you calm down.

I'm not sure that a naughty mat is as useful some of the time as giving her a time out by having her sit somewhere that she feels safe by herself and playing soft music so that she can calm down.

Or even just talking with her while you hold her letting her know that what she's done is inappropriate and will not be accepted.

Whatever you decide to do, tell her that you love her.

I know it's extremely difficult to get back into a calm and loving way of disciplining after her behavior has become this negative but I think you'll find a positive change after awhile if you can stick with the loving approach.

It is also important to have reasonable boundaries with an understanding of her abilities at this age. For example, both my daughter and her sister became outraged when their daughters lied at ages 3 and 4. As a consequence both girls are still lying at 6. A preschooler is learning to use their imagination and there brain hasn't developed enough to understand the difference between fantasy and reality. Instead of yelling at their kids for lying they could've given a non punitive consequence such as sitting down with them to discuss both the parent's and child's feelings about lying and teaching the difference between fantasy and reality. Accept the fantasy when it's truly a fantasy. My granddaughter said her aunt lived across the street from her school. I told her that would certainly be fun but she really lives in Vancouver. I then let it drop. She kept talking about living across the street and I just listened. When she'd wound down I once more said, that sure would be fun if it were true. If my granddaughter had told her mother this story her mother would've sternly told her to not lie.

My granddaughter now lies in an effort to stay out of trouble. She is told that lying will only get her into more trouble but she still does it. I think that she's learned that if she can delay her mother's angry reaction that when her mother comes back to it after discovering the lie she is sometimes less angry. And she's hoping that her mother never discovers the lie which also happens. All of this because anger is frequently my daughter's first response to anything that she considers wrong.

As a result my granddaughter, who is nearly 7, doesn't really understand when to use fantasy appropriately. She escapes into a fantasy world.
This example is simplified. There is much more than the not accepting the "lies" as fantasy to cause the continued lying but I believe that this is a large part of why my granddaughter actually lies when the truth is the most appropriate. Everything is a lie and she'll be punished for all of the lies ("lies)

If your daughter continues to act out after you've tried other ways of treating the misbehavior then I'd highly recommend some professional assistance. When angry is not successfully processed the child usually continues their misbehaviour into the teens where it's much more difficult to treat.

I sympathize with your situation. I've been there and really only realize that their are different ways to discipline when I became a grandmother and could "see" what is happening from the outside.



answers from Portland on

I know where you are coming from and I know your pain. i have four kids,18,13,9,6. my two oldest are driving me nuts.
i have punished my kids the same way you are doing but to no avail either so i tried just the opposite, i spend time with them one on one, like taking my 13 yr old shopping, if she behaves. i just think your daughter is used to all the attention and now must share some of that attention with her baby sister.
try having your hubby or someone else to watch the baby while you spend some quality time with her, take her to a movie, shopping, a walk in the park, take her lunch to school and surprise her with something like that.

i wish you the best.




answers from Seattle on


It sounds to me like she isn't mad at the baby, but is just screaming for your attention. Her behavior, though, is out of place for a girl her age. If she were older, say about 10 or 12, I could understand the lying, stealing, etc... You really don't need to tell your girl that those things are wrong, she already knows... that's why she's doing them. Your job is to draw the line and let her know when she's crossed it. You will have to hold the line, and keep holding it. Make the boundaries clear and real. A good first step is to address the disrespectful behavior in an unemotional way. Telling her "that's rude. I don't like to talk to rude people. Untill you can talk to me politely, you may go and be by yourself." As for the stealing, what would a 6&1/2 year old do with $40? You might want to give her an object lesson in the value of that money... not as to what she can buy with it, but how much work it takes to earn it. At minimum wage it would take something like 6 hours worth of work to get that money... Give her chores to do like washing the dishes, cleaning up after meals, sweeping the floors...

And besides the poor behavior, respond quickly and positively to the good behavior. Praise her for treating her new sister nicely. Tell her how happy and proud you are when she does other things too, like if she cleans her room without being asked, or whatever she does that is "right".

It sounds like you've got the right idea, it just may take longer than you'd like to get the message accross to her that her behavior toward you has been unacceptable.

Just try to be consistant, hold the line, and look for others who can help you hold that line. Parenting is a tough job, and our kids don't like to make it easy for us!

Best of luck to you!



answers from Portland on

My sister had the same problem with my six year old niece. However, she is an only child. She was at the end of her rope. She tried time outs, grounding, etc. Finally, her and her husband decided to really get her attention, they would take away everyone of her toys. They cleared out her entire room, except her bed and dresser. She had to earn back her toys one at a time by being good and by doing chores around the houuse. It worked great. She has a whole new attitude.

It might work. It's worth a try. Good luck.



answers from Portland on

Call your local hospital and find out when they have sibling classes. They are a big help.
Also, recruit her help in doing things with you, like making dinner. She's old enough to grate cheese, stir things up, set the table, and things like that.
Have dad watch the baby, and take her to the store with you.
Before the baby, she had all of your attention. Babies require a LOT of attention.
Children almost always regress when a baby comes. My potty trained three year old peed in the corner of the hospital room while we buckled our new daughter into her car seat.
She is starving for you, and she will continue to do anything in her power to get your attention. I'm sure you know that negative attention is better than no attention. Well, it's true. She would rather have you yell at her, and punnish her for doing something wrong than be in the shadow of her new baby sister.
She isn't mad at the baby. She probably loves the baby. She isn't a bad child, she just needs you more than ever right now. I know that's asking a lot, but if you set up things that are just for her, like bed time stories, and taking her to the park for an hour, or going for an evening walk, just you and her, things will quiet down.
Recruit her help with the baby too. She can hand you diapers, and wipes, and shampoo.
I hope this helps a littl bit.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches