Aggressive Behavior in a 6 Year Old

Updated on March 16, 2013
M.M. asks from Providence, RI
9 answers

My partners child is 6 years old and sometimes acts very aggressively/vindictively when she doesn't get her own way.

She has been throwing objects into people's faces lately (mine, her fathers, grandmothers), which I find abusive, disrespectful, and wildly innappropriate for a girl her age (I've only ever witness toddlers throwing objects at people).

Her father levels with her, tells her not to do it and WHY not to do it, and to use her words to vent her frustration/ask for what she do I. But the behavior continues. She gets more active playtime, one one one time with us than any other kids I have ever I know that lack of activity/attention isn't the problem.

How can we resolve this issue? I worry that her behavior will affect her ability to keep friends, or that she'll scratch someone's cornea/scar their face.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

She gets no punishment. Her father prefers to level with her (I think he's unrealistic, there's no way a 6yr old can be leveled with, she can't even tie her own shoes, let alone reason.) and as I'm not her bio mom, he is unwilling to let me punish her.

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answers from New York on

Does she get consequences, sometimes explaining the why and why not are just not enough. Sounds like she needs some consequences, and some clear discipline on what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. I think she needs to be spoken to when she is not in the moment, not angry, so she can hear you, or him, and then let her know what will happen if she displays the behaviors, and then you or he MUST follow through. No empty threats. You are right no one will want to be around her if she is permitted to act like this. Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

He's going to continue to have an aggressive, vindictive daughter on his hands until he figures out that loving parents hold their children accountable for their actions. This absolutely means punishment for bad behavior, such as throwing things at people. Totally unacceptable, especially at her age.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Are there any other consequences other than someone telling her not to do it and why? For a six year old, that's not much of a deterent. If I thought all that would happen is someone would tell me not to do it, I would keep doing it also. What's the downside for her?

IMHO, when she does that, she should be removed from the area immediately. If you're at home, she goes straight to her room and doesn't come out for at least an hour. If she screams and hollers, then the hour doesn't start until she calms down. I know an hour is long, but her behavior is over the top so the punishment must also be over the top. Also, I would not let her have playdates or friends over until this is curbed. Like you said, she could possibly really hurt someone and you and your partner could end up with some costly medical bills or worse yet, be sued.

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answers from Columbia on

This is tantrum behavior and should be treated like tantrum behavior.

Remove her from the situation immediately. No negotiations, even if she begs and cries. Send her to her room and shut the door. Leave her in there for as long as it takes for her to calm down, plus 10 minutes of quiet.

When she's been quiet for 10 minutes, call her to you (don't go in to her...YOU are in control of this situation, not her). Ask her why she was sent to her room. Don't tell her, make her explain it to you.

Then, tell her that every time she behaves that way, she'll be sent to her room. No negotiating or arguing. And if she comes out, throws things, kicks, or screams, she'll earn more time in there.

If she refuses to tell you why she was in her room....send her back. She knows why and is just being stubborn. Even if she suddenly "sees the light" when she realizes that you're sending her back, send her back anyway. Her insolence will be cured when she comes back out again.

When she speaks to you, be sure she is respectful and looks you in the eye. Disrespectful body language is NOT allowed. I've called my boys out of their room, had them explain to me what they did, and then said "Okay, you can go back to your room for speaking to me in a rude tone of voice and flopping all over the place when you should have been standing up straight like a gentleman."

It's a process, trust me. But today, I have 10 and 11 year old boys who are EXTREMELY kind and respectful.

ETA: It sounds like you have another problem as well. If you are going to have ANY parenting role, you need to have some power in that role. You have to get on the same page as your partner. And my method isn't's teaching HER discipline. When she realizes that her behavior lands her in her room for long periods every single time, she'll start to adjust. When she realizes that disrespect lands her there, she'll become more respectful.

Children don't inherently "know." They're like puppies...he have to train them. Get on the same page with your partner and help him to understand that just talking to a 6 year old isn't going to cut it. And if he's not willing to allow you to be a parent instead of "just a partner," the child will never respect you.

I, personally, would NEVER live with someone who wasn't committed to our relationship enough to allow me to parent the kids too. It would show me all too well where our relationship was prioritized.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Sometimes with kids, in addition to doing what the Dad seems to be doing per your description... a child NEEDS to be told, directly with no pussy footing around "THAT IS WRONG. Stop it now."
Kids, often are not actually told that something is "wrong" or "right" or "good" or "bad." But rather, they are explained to about things. And after awhile, kids just tune you out. Especially when explanations are too wordy or long winded.
A child need to be told and reminded "NO. That is WRONG." And "correct that... redo that." And then, the child has to learn problem-solving.... to do so. Which is a learned... skill. Have the child, come up with CORRECT, reactions. Which you can offer ideas, but the child has to learn, how to come UP with, alternatives.
It is taught.
Not an inherent skill.
Role play, with her.

And when she is being mean/aggressive, put her in time out.
And TELL HER "That is mean. That is wrong. YOU KNOW THAT." A kid also needs to be told, that the parent is onto them. And that they cannot be manipulated.
I have actually told my kids "I KNOW YOU are trying to manipulate me. It will NOT work. Redo that... and when you do, you come to me... and tell me. SHOW me." And then I walk away.
Sometimes, their "punishment" is that I take myself... away from them. ie: I walk away. I do whatever I am doing and continue to do so. My kids then see and realize, that I mean it. That I cannot be manipulated, and that, I will not put up with it. And that... THEY are responsible, for CORRECTING their poor behavior, TOO. Because, even if punished/scolded.... some kids don't care. They will endure the punishment but still be, icky. SO, you need to make the child, RESPONSIBLE... for coming up with ways to CORRECT, their bad behavior. Kids need to learn, these skills. And be told "NO. That is WRONG. YOU KNOW THAT...."

My son is 6. My daughter is 10. Often as parents you just assume a kid knows right from wrong, already. But, I have found, that with my son... that when I actually tell him "THAT IS WRONG. Do not do that..." it jars his conscious. And it makes him realize, again even if he is 6.... that his behavior is wrong. And that, no one has to put up with it. And that I won't.

The books "Have A New Kid By Friday" and "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk" is good. Good ideas in it.

And again, with young kids, make sure they get enough sleep. Adequate sleep. And that they are eating enough and well. Many young kids, need to have snacks in between meals. Otherwise, their blood sugar levels drop.... and this is when they get moody or fussy or cranky and their tolerances, drops. And when overtired, too.

A child need to be told, if/when they are being mean. And told that it is not acceptable.
Don't pussy foot around it.

The girl is in school?
How do the teachers deal with her?
Is she like this in school too?

You need to show her LIMITS.
When she is like this... tell her "tantrum and yell all you want. I am leaving. I have things to do. When you are done, you come and tell me..." and walk away.
A kid, WILL burn themselves out.
They will, deflate.
But you have to tune them out, while doing so.
And once they deflate, THEN you tell them in no uncertain terms, that you will not put up with it, it is wrong to act that way, and they need to APOLOGIZE to you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I agree, she needs to be removed from the situation and given some sort of "time out" to calm down ...and then speak with her...I also think there should be some more consequences to her actions (like no TV for a period of time).

Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lexington on

It really depends on what is going on, but often it is a combination of genetics ("nature") and epigenetics ("environmental"). You may want to at least look into these things:


answers from Santa Fe on

Besides getting a talking to when she does this, does she get a consequence? What does she LOVE in life? What does she LOVE to do? Tell her the next time she throws an object in someone's face then she will go to her room for x amount of time to cool off AND she will get a consequence. If she is at someone's house or at the park then you take her and leave IMMEDIATELY AND you give her the consequence. Find something that will work for her. For my son these are the things that work: No friends can come over for 3 days. No video games for x days. No dessert for x days. Then follow through. He will yell and cry and make a huge stink. Then the next time this happens he really thinks before he does something wrong. Don't forget to praise her when she does something right. ALSO, she must apologize to the person she hurt. I see your SWH now. This is huge - The problem here is she is not getting a consequence. Her father is wrong. She NEEDS a consequence every time. Show him everyone's answers and maybe that will help him understand.


answers from Williamsport on

OK, Um, I've NEVER met a child who will act well just because people "level with them". If it was as easy as "clearly telling them what they should and should not do" one would have kids with bad behavior. Because that would be pretty effortless right? Don't we all TELL our kids how to act?

It takes major enforcement.

Back to Basics Discipline by Janet Campbell Matson is a good place to start (though she's way past the nipping in the bud's still useful if people step up). I've got three kids who would never act this way but I've had to do way more than level with them about things.

Deep down, it's usually an issue of fear (or worst case scenario laziness) on the parent's part when they don't want to discipline, because they themselves would be uncomfortable implementing discipline and upsetting their child. They fear they won't be the nice guy anymore. Or they fear they will be overboard or abusive if they were abused. Or they just don't want to raise their kids the way their parents raised them for some arbitrary reason. Or they're clueless if they weren't disciplined as kids. Some of my most clueless (on parenting) friends with really bad kids were not disciplined when they were young so they have no idea what to do when their kids turn into disrespectful terrors.

Whatever the reason-and there are MANY these days for NOT disciplining thus all the brats and the bullying epidemic: Kids don't respect doormats for parents and her behavior is extremely alarming and needs to be squashed NOW. Not until she has respect and self control will the verbalizing matter to her. As for what you're saying now, she'll do something terrible, receive no punishment, and then even get MORE one on one time, playtime, etc. in other words-rewards. Her dad is a doormat (although I guess he's firm enough with you about not letting you parent his daughter with him). You have no choice since you're not her bio mom. I dont' know what you can really do, but this is so sad that her parents have chosen to spoil her.

Look on the bright side-if she acts like this to other people (and she will-she's a future bully/mean gril waiting to happen) her punishments will come from many other places in her life. Sad for her, but her parent's coice. The fact that she is so developmentally behind (not medically, but from lack of guidance) is super sad too. My oldest daughter just turned seven and has been reasonable since age three. Her younger siblings are also reasonable at 5 and 3.

I feel sad for this girl, but I know lots of kids like her. I would seriously reconsider spending your life with a man like this. It's going to get ugly.

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