Is This Normal Behaviour for a 5 Year Old Boy?

Updated on August 08, 2010
J.B. asks from Longwood, FL
17 answers

Hi all, I have a 5 year old son (he turned 5 in feb) and I am at my wits end :0(
He is my 2nd child ( i have a 7 year old daughter too) and he has always been a beautiful kid. Sweet, gentil, loving. BUT, at the moment he is just crazy. Not doing anything I ask, taking things secretly when Ive told him he cant have it, arguing with me, fighting me with everything i say, I say black he says white.put him in his room to clean it...for a whole hour he yelled and screemed and just layed on his floor...he did nothing.
I ve taken toys away and stop taking him to his favourite places...he doesnt care!
To make it worse his sister is a realy,, good girl. She is super friendly and caring, helpful and alawys has been. Im complelty againt comparing children and never want him to grow up with this. I dont expect the 2 kids to be the same however its the crazy behavior that is doing my head in...
Is this normal behaviour for a 5 year old boy...please tell me he will grow out of it. Im into positive parenting but i just dont know what to do anymore

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answers from New York on

Read positive discipline - gives you and understanding of how kids think from 2 - 5 and how to handle the rough spots positively - no child is perfect all the time so maybe his diet, exercise, sleep habits or another issue are bothering him - they are after all - human beings.

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answers from San Francisco on

Two really good pieces of advice I used while my kids were growing up:

1. Pick your battles. If you're going to try to make him do, or not do, something, make sure it's worth the battle. And with a 5 year old, keep your expectations low. I think you might be expecting too much.

2. Something a friend who is a teacher told me once that always stuck with me: Five year olds don't make good maids. In other words, don't put a 5 year old in a room and tell him to clean it if you want results. Give him a really small task, and you do the rest. It helps to really limit the amount of toys in their room, so they can't make that much of a mess. Put some in storage and rotate them.

I'd be interested to see statistics of the results of people who do positive discipline vs. spanking (suggested below) long-term. When your kids are all still under 5, I'm not sure you can use yourself as an example of success. Get through the teen years, then I might listen.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

To Train up a Child by Michael Pearl. --This is the book that teaches you to beat your infant with a PVC pipe to make them obey you....This is the book that has lead to MANY deaths in the past year alone.

Would you hit an adult? no...

At this age, and the fact he is a boy--this is normal...sorry--I know that's not what you want to hear. This is just a time that he is testing his boundaries...and at a normal age, these times many people do not expect kids to act like...well..KIDS! They are NOT little adults...

My kids go through this too, and yes, they do grow out of it--if they have consistent consequences for the not give in...If you said--the room has to be clean, then it has to be clean before they can do anything else...or tell them they have a choice...clean their own room, or clean the bathroom...:) And let him yell...Tell him if he is going to do that to please shut the door--ignore it and inform him calmly that he will not be leaving the room till it's clean....

Or you could tell him he has 30 minutes--and anything that is on the floor after that is bring put in trash bags/boxes...

Or make it a age 5 they are still little kids..."I bet I can clean the living room before you can clean YOUR room--winner gets ice creame!" Or help a it that bad that he may feel overwhelmed?

Argues? Tell him that you respect his opinion, and decide for yourself if it's worth fighting...or is he feeling you are spending too much time doing something else and is just trying to get your attention??

This is the developmental age that most boys start to "detach emotionally" with their Moms and move closer to their Dads..not all, mind you..but it could be his way of making it ok with him...If you fight, it's ok to let go a bit...

Just remind him every chance you have that you love matter what...and *hugz* to you...It is really hard to go through this.

Friends told me after I had my kids "Boys are hard at first, but get easier...Gyrls are easy at first and just get harder" So far, I agree with them...:)

Hang in there and take a day/night out to just do something--JUST you and him...something he thinks is fun or kewl...:) He may not show it, but it will mean more to him than you know!

Just my 2 cents

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I think it is probably just a phase he is going through. My son is almost 5 and he went though that a few months back. We started a reward chart with stickers. If he went a day without a time out then he would get a sticker. When he got a certain amount of stickers he would get a small toy. It worked great. Of course he still did naughty things and had days at a time where he didn't get stickers but it helped keep him in line especially when we would say "don't ruin the really want that sticker don't you?" I would also reward him with an extra sticker if he did something great without being cleaning up his toys or something. Things turned around pretty quick and now he seems to be past it. He still has his moments but it is much better. We don't really even do the stickers anymore because it is so rare that he has timeouts or acts out that bad. I promise that positive reinforcement really works! Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Boys have a "growth spurts" at this age that include TESTOSTERONE. Need I say more.


answers from Williamsport on

Positive parenting is the cause. Just sayin. I know lots of positive parents with this same scenario. He may or may not just "grow out of it". You can turn this around! There is a time for positive reinforcement (99% of the time), and a time for discipline when necessary, even though it's not in style right now.
For the meek, there is a great book by a grandma called "Back to Basics Discipline" by Janet Campbell Matson see the website at
and for the balls out disciplinarian there is an Amish based book that has to be read with an open mind-ignore the fundamentalist stuff and religion and the scary snippets in reviews-they've been removed from newer edition, And read it all. It's short. It's extremely positive, but you'll only see scary older parts (mostly removed) in the negative reviews posted by non spankers. You may not want to make the change, but you will see what happened and may find things you can do within your own belief system. Or maybe it will make your head spin like beetlejuice, but if your son is doing these things, I really think you should read it. A million people on here will google it and say not to (and believe me they haven't read the whole thing or seen the results) and recommend positive discipline and happy baby on the block books, but I say read it. No harm reading. I know tons of kids raised this way, including my own, and they do not have these common issues that you describe, and they need almost no discipline, They are mature and happy and secure and respectful. My husband travels all the time, I take my 3 kids under 5 everywhere with me, they are my best buddies, my massive extended homeschooling family (on my mom's side-my step dad-father of 10-grandfather of 30+ gave me the book when I got pregnant with my first) has the same results. To Train up a Child by Michael Pearl. Good luck, don't lose your good son!
At the very least check out 'Back to Basics Discipline'. the next two posts-someone thinking I'm talking about only kids under 5-Lots of kids I am referring to in the family are through the teen years and raising their own kids now, including myself and my husband who were spanked occasionally and thankful our parents didn't let us act like kids we see today, and there is no PVC pipe whipping in the book-that predictable person got that from a false review on google. read it. I dare ya.



answers from New York on

You may want to look into if he is having difficulty dealing with anything outside the home like school or friendships. He may not know how to explain to you that something is wrong in his world so he is acting out at home out of frustration. Children will never grow out of bad behavior. They rely on us to train them on how to handle themselves. They grow out of things when they are taught self control and how to deal with what life throws our way.



answers from Columbus on

If your son suddenly "changed" then I would take him to the pediatrician and find out why, becuse that is a real issue that could be an accute illness. You need to be more specific with your pediatrician about the nature of the behavior and leave out your subjectivity of "crazy and beautiful" and just tell him what is going on objectively, and for how long, exactly. If you are exagerating about the sudden nature of the change, and just saying that he used to be a good baby, but as he has grown, his behavior has been escalating since the sweet babyhood stage, and typical dicipline has not worked, then he may have some developmental issues and you need to be more clear about that with your pediatrician so that they can give you a proper referal and stop looking for some trigger that caused a complete turn around in his behavior one day.

The word you are searching for is "typical" not normal. I don't know that any child is typically sweet, gentil, or loving, but that is not really an oposite behaviro to screaming, fighthing, yelling, tantrums, or failure of typical dicipline. I guess I am a little concerned about the words you use. If he was beatiful, he is still beatiful, atypical behavior has nothing to do with beauty, but everything to do with how he processes the world around him, and if that is off, he is still beatiful, he just needs help so that he can respond to typical dicipline, or you can learn what kind of dicipline will work for him so that his behavior can be more typical.

I get the feeling that you have left out a great deal here. If I am right, what you really need for your son is a full evaluation by a developmental pediatrician to find out what your beatiful son's barrier is to responding in a typical way to a typical world, because he may need some assistance to get there.

He is beatuiful, either way, and please, leave crazy out completley.




answers from Provo on

I have a six year old and he definitely has an alpha male personality. He tests my patience time after time. I think your little guy is doing this also. He is probably wanting to feel like he has some control and sometimes you just need to play little games with them to give them a sense of control. Often times I will tell that I will give him a choice pick up your toys or go to your room. If he starts whining I will just tell him that he can choose to stop whining or I will never get him candy again. Be consistent in whatever you do and he will eventually grow out of it when he learns that you are not going to waiver. I also compliment him a lot when he does small things to help me. He loves to hear that he is growing up and his muscles are big.



answers from Utica on

I would call this completely atypical behavior except if something dramatic has happened. Talk about whatever has changed and see if you can help him through the problem that probably was not his fault and he seems to be blaming himself for.
Another scenario might be that he is growing up and testing his independence, but usually by giving kids choices within their ability to choose takes away the problem. Hopefully you have already done that realizing that of course he is growing up.
Therefore I would say that you need to think back to the onset, and what happened 2-3 weeks before then decide if this is a medical problem in some way. For instance no more school, gives no time with friends and I am mad. -- or Dad left and I don't want him gone. Well you get the idea that these would be things again that he can do nothing about

God bless you with wisdom and an inquisitive mind to ask the right questions



answers from New York on

He is testing you and himself. He has started having his own ideas and opinions and he wants to see how far he can go. Positive parenting is great, but only with a consequence. "My dear son it is time to clean your room so we can go to the playground (good consequence). If it isnt done by 10 O'clock it will be too late to go (bad consequence), so please hurry and get it done." This way you have laid it all on the line. BTW you need to be specific as to what it means to "clean" his room. Its better to tell him to put his dirty clothes in the hamper and all his toys in the toy box. Now if he decides to throw a tantrum, its time for time outs. Stick him in a chair or better yet the corner and explain to him he gets to stay there until HE decides to stop screaming. Expect the screams to escalate and perhaps continue for an hour, but eventually he will figure out you mean business. After a few times he will be your loving son again...until he is 8..then again at 12 and finally the dreaded teens.
I just read the other replies and I can't see spanking a child for not cleaning their room. I raised 6 children and confess that I did hit them. I slapped little hands that touched the stove or outlets, I swatted little butts if they tried to run in the street, and once I gave my 4 y/o son a real-pull-down-the-pants spanking because he went inside the fenced pool area to retrieve a toy. He knew it was forbidden and incredibly dangerous and he also knew I would gladly get any toy that went over the fence. He never did that again. But I never hit a child for anything that wasnt a danger to them. IMHO If you hit a child for every little thing they wont listen to anything, besides the sting of a slap soon goes away, but grounding lasts much longer. I always explained to my 5 boys and one girl what would happen if they did or did not do something.



answers from Dallas on

This may be a long shot but has he has strep or vaccines lately? Has he had any sort of illness?



answers from Albany on

I work with kids who have trouble in school, but occasionally I get one who is more like my son - obstinant, and much like yours. I ahve found that there seems to be an underlying nutritional deficiency that causes his brain to act differently. (Unfortuantely my son is 16, and eats just what he wants). The brain normally creates "feel good" chemicals like seratonin, but in some people, this does not happen correctly. There are two ways to create these chemicals - through drug therapy or through nutrition. For the nutritional choice, seek out a clinical nutritionist for a complete evaluation, which would include testing for hidden food allergies and brain chemical levels. I have seen some amazing changes in people just from eliminating dairy and wheat, and adding in good food and needed supplements.

Good luck!



answers from New York on

Has anything new taken place in his or your lives that would possible affect him to change him from being a beautiful sweet, gentle loving little five year old to one who is giving you such a hard time? Is his father involved in his life? And what discipline techniques do you use?
All this questions have to be considered to give you solid suggestions. Do you give in too easily, are you consistent and clear with your expectations?
Five years old is too young to already be in control. I raised four sons, have taught preschool in a community setting, maintained my own daycare center and am a licensed special educaiton teacher. I recommend a book, An Essential Practical Guide to Family Living that can be ordered from that offers many eye opening suggestions to parenting as well as other family and marital issues. If I can be of further help please email me at [email protected]



answers from New York on

Hi JB,
I don't have any great advice. I just wanted you to know you're not alone! My 4 1/2 yr. old is going through the same thing. I have two boys (4 1/2 and 15 months) and I have 3 sources I check with. All three moms have 2 or 3 boys (8 boys total), all older than mine so they've been through it. They all said it's totally normal for boys this age. They're testing their boundaries, trying to find their independence, and have some control over their lives. Apparently it is a phase. I'm dying to know when the phase will be over because like you I wonder what's happened to my sweet boy. LOL. I do see the sweet boy about 1/2 the time, but oh this other one. . . well I don't know him :o)
I love Amie D's idea! We have a job chart with his "jobs" for the day and he gets a sticker for doing those jobs, but I think we may make a screaming chart. No screaming when you're mad. . . get a sticker! No saying "I WON'T" get a sticker. I think I'll give it a try. Good luck to you! Your sweet boy will come back (so I've been told ) Sending hugs!



answers from New York on

I can't say I can help you. But can they say that I am in the same boat. You are not alone! My (1st) son will be 5 in a week and is acting the same. The last few months he has had huge tantrums, crying, hitting us etc. Nothing is working. My husband set up a chip system - when he listens he gets a (poker) chip & there are rewards after a certain amount. My husband did not want material items but a trip to get ice cream, friend over etc. We did the same item (dollar store or book ) in the past, don't want more junk. Though I have to remember not to get ice cream on a whim etc..But I am not sure it works, some days he doesn't care about it. His mood has changed, he used to always be happy & sweet. He is almost always in a bad mood. Now he never wants to do any activites outside the house even with friends, he rolls around cause I am sure he is so tired. I am sure if he still napped he won't act like this. He never really had the terrible 2's or 3's but now it is real bad. Any ideas for us?



answers from New York on

Dear JB, Some where between 5 and 7 some children go through another terrible two! They are again showing their independence. Sometimes it is magnified by some change in the household or the family unit. Yes it should pass but you must be consistant and not give in to tantrums. You are the mom and he is the child. Hang in there mommy, we all survive this but it is not easy...... Grandma Mary

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