My 5 Year Old Child Is Super Spoiled !

Updated on August 26, 2010
J.M. asks from Corona, CA
17 answers

Help, I am at my wits end with my 5 year old . I am a single mother of 1, his father is not in the picture. I work a full time job and have family help me raise my lil boy . When he is with them he listens and behaves but when he comes home with me he does a complete 360... He dosent listen to me , he throws tantrums , and he says the most mean and hatefull things to me, like he hates me and that he doesnt want to be around me and that he wants to hurt himself and sometimes he does like punching or scratching himself . I will admit that i am hardly around a majority of the time due to my job and to compensate for that and him not having a father around I try and befriend him and give him what he wants , Now I don't believe in spankings a child so he hardly gets disciplined . Im just at the point where I don't know what to do anymore time outs do not work taking his toys , video games and laptop away doesnt work as well. Can somebody please help me and give me some pointers ... im in tears everynight because of this..

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi J.. My son is the same way... he's great at school, camp, with the sitter but bad around me and my husband. It's your son's way of getting attention from you. Bad attention is just as good as good attention for kids like this. I read a book called How to Talk so you Kids will Listen. It was really helpful coming up with methods to get your kids to behave and listen to you. Sometimes ignoring the bad behavior and responding only to good behavior helps. Get your son involved with helping you do things like make dinner and cleaning up. Ask his opinion of things. Ask what he'd like to do on the weekend then say, "Ok we can do that if you are good and listen all week" You can also do a positive behavior chart where he gets a sticker for each day he listens and behaves. After a certain number of stickers - say 10 (they don't have to be in a row) - he gets a special treat or present. Do this for a few months and see how it goes. In general, I don't believe in hitting either but sometimes one good whack on the butt makes my son take me seriously.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

It seems to me that your son is acting out because he WANTS and NEEDS his mom. Instead of focusing on the "bad" behavior try to spend more quality time with him when you can. You said yourself you aren't around much because you have to earn a living to be able to survive but 5yr olds don't understand that. All he understands is that mommy isn't here. Try to nurture him more and help him understand even if mommy works she doesn't love him any less.
I wouldn't suggest punishing your child for the emotions he's feeling, try to help him work through the emotions and find more approapitr ways of displaying them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You can give calm, firm and reasonable discipline WITHOUT SPANKING based on mutual respect. Read the wise book by Faber and Mazlish, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk.

The methods they teach are easy to start implementing, make for good emotional connections and a happier household, and result in happy, cooperative and (mostly) obedient children. They work fabulously well with my grandson, and for a number of young families I know. Even with a problem child, you can begin to see positive changes almost immediately.

This book will be one of the best, cheapest investments you'll ever make for your son's future.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

i totally agree with cherylann, Plus, give him positive attention. Do things together. My guess is you aren't seeing him until both of you are tired. try to take good care of yourself so you have some energy left for him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi J., there is definitely a solution!

We have four children ages 13, 11, 5 and 3 and we use Nonviolent Communication as taught by parenting coach Bill Stierle.

This process has a few steps.

The first step is to validate the child's feelings and get him to agree with you. With my 3-year-old, she may be yelling at first, upset. So I say,
"Are you yelling because you want mamma to hear you?"

She usually says, "Yes!"

Then identify the need, it's important to get your child to agree with you three times. This seems to really diffuse the anger/ intense emotion to know that their needs are being heard and understood.

"Are you disappointed that Mama didn't give you the toy?"

She says 'Yes!"

"That didn't meet your need for choice, did it? You want to choose to have the toy?" (Choice is a big need for children and identifying the need is important here).

Once you get your child to agree three times, I find that this quite often diffuses the upset. Sometimes I repeat the process. Then it's important to establish that you have needs too.

"When you scratch yourself, that doesn't meet Mommy's need for safety for you. Can you say safety?"


"When you yell at me that you hate me that doesn't meet my need for kindness. Can you say kindness?"

The idea here is to get your child, over time, to start understanding that 1) their needs are valid and that 2) other people also have needs. They will start learning the language of needs and nonviolent communication.

Sometimes you may feel so overwhelmed in the moment that you need to empathize with yourself before you can empathize with your child and figure out and acknowledge their needs. So you may want to take a moment in your own head to think about what needs of your own are not being met by your child's upset. In your own mind you might think, "My need for peace is not being met." or "My need for kindness is not being met." Sometimes we feel like our child SHOULD know better, be better, etc... and this is where we start getting into trouble. To acknowledge your own needs not being met in the moment, self empathy, can go a long way to help you to feel centered so that you can help your child learn to work through their emotions with the new vocabulary of words that you are teaching them instead of with hitting, kicking, screaming, etc...

After your child calms down, if you can get them to acknowledge your needs too, that's the ideal. However, they are still learning the concepts and idea that others have needs, even if they resist saying the words back to you in the moment. I know that we also have a need to be heard and understood and it can be frustrating when we feel our child SHOULD learn this quickly, acknowledge us right away, etc...

It can be hard to learn a new language like this, but really, it gets easier and easier the more you do it.

Here's a link to some resources on Bill's site if you're interested


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Please read what you wrote as if someone else posted this question. Children CRAVE boundaries & discipline. And, although I do condone spanking, since when does not spanking a child means there is less discipline? There are plenty of ways to discipline even when you don't believe in spanking. Remember that kids don't want to be bought with stuff, they truly want a parent not a friend.

I am sure you want a son that is going to grow up to be a wonderful son, Man, husband, father some day. So you really need to find out what you are willing to do to get your little guy under control so you both can have the kind of relationship you both want. I think you should look into taking a parenting class too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Hi J.-

It sounds like you need to set written rules in your home and be consistent about following them and their consequences. I know it's hard to be the 'bad' guy when you just got home, but if you're consistent about your rules, then sooner than later, your child will stop pushing and just obey.

From what you're sayig, it sounds lke your son is angry and doesn't know how to tell you what he's angry about. Try to talk to him about your work and the hours you must be gone. Giving him an outlet to vent his anger will help too.

Most importantly, be firm about respect to you and himself, but also be supportive about his feelings.

"I hear you're anger today, but yelling at me is not ok. I want you to go calm down, then we can talk about what you're angry over, but you are not allowed to talk to me with those mean words."

Be sure you stop what you're doing so you can pay attention to him like you said you would.

Good Luck

R. Magby

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi J.,

I am very sorry for your unfortunate situation. It must be exceedingly hard to be a single mom and work full time. It seems like your best intentions have gotten you the short end of the stick.

You might want to start with asking your family what seems to be working for them while they are watching your son. Implementing some of the things they do might help create a more consistent atmosphere for him. Another resource for you could be teachers at his school. I'm sure they've seen it all and dealt with it all; they can be wonderful resources for disciplinary help. Finally, if he is punching and scratching himself, you might consider a counselor for him. It might take some looking for a good one that can work around your busy schedule, but that sort of behavior seems a little out of the ordinary and you wouldn't want that to get any worse.

As for any immediate cures, I would say that you should probably rethink being his friend. It sounds like he really could use some boundaries from you at this time in his young life, and you as his mom can create that a lot more effectively than you as his friend can. If he keeps pushing and you continue to allow it, he won't know when he can stop. Kids at your son's age need to know their boundaries. It helps them feel secure, even though their actions might indicate otherwise. Since negative reinforcement (taking things away) don't seem to help, you might try a point system whereas good behavior allows him to have special time with you, like going to his favorite park, doing an activity with you that he especially enjoys, etc. Try documenting good and bad behavior on the chart and tell him that his goal would be to simply have the good behavior points outnumber the bad for the first week. This small goal might seem more attainable to him instead of him having to feel that he has to behave perfectly, every day. In short, try to keep the behavior goals easily attainable and gradually expect better behavior as the weeks pass on. This might ease some frustration on both sides.

I wish you all the best, and for anyone who leaves you a condescending response, please remember that we have all felt overwhelmed with our children at some point, and don't let any holier than thou responses get you down. You are a good mother and are trying your best. Be strong, know that better times are ahead of you, and don't hesitate to ask professionals for help when you feel you need it.

All my best,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Two thing that you mentioned stuck me as silly....first, you don't believe in spanking a child....that would probably be the reason why you are where you are; ALL children need a good spanking once in a's necessary. Remember the biblical verse/scripture where it clearly tells us that if we "spare the rod we spoil the child"....there you go, simple solution to all parents who have a child that misbehaves. Secondly, a 5 year old having a laptop is just plain funny.....I can promise you that if you keep this level of "spoiling" up (this is beyond're ruining your child, creating a monster) you will absolutely RUIN this child.....he will never earn the respect of his friends, and later his colleagues will think he's a joke. I know guys that were spoiled like you're doing to your son....and they are not husband was taught good moral lessons from very early on in life, and it made him a great man.....if you want to raise a good man, you better start now.....he's 5 years old!!! No laptops or video games!!! He should be learning how to read and count...socialize well with other kids.....why don't you try reading some books with him, I think it might help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I think spanking would be just super if it worked. I'd get to work out my anger by hitting something. HELLO!! You are right about the spanking. When my son hits I say 'we don't hit' and it is the truth. Enough about that....
My mother and father in law live with us. My son is my first but my husband's 5th. Needless to say there isn't anybody in the house that doesn't want to spoil him but me. My husband's other kids are horribly spoiled with 2 parents trying to make up for a divorce. Sometimes I feel like I'm in some sort of brat creating hurricane! I know it's cheezy but I go with the SuperNanny. I thought it was stupid but had tried everything else so what's there to lose. When you do it EXACTLY like she instructs time out really does work. I love my son and I do him a disservice if I don't teach him that there are consequences to treating others badly. I can feel your pain because my son is an angel for anybody else. I think I could leave him with the garbage man and he'd be happy as a clam!! The thing to remind yourself ( I did it this morning ) of is that his behavior is to get attention from you. He's not challenging your authority he's just doing stuff that he knows will get a reaction. Stop reacting and haul him over to your time out spot. Set your timer and walk away. Like I said, check out the way Super Nanny does it. If you do it wrong you'll want to put yourself in time out!!!



answers from Los Angeles on

I don't know if "spoiled" is the right word for the behaviors you're describing. He sounds really angry to me. Either way,I would try to find a time when he's calm and attempt have an open discussion about it (maybe go out to a special ice cream at the park or something). I would say how you're unhappy with his behaviors- be specific- and describe how they make you feel. I would talk about all the abd things that come of it (I take your toys away, we yell, you go to timeout, we're both mad, etc). Then be really clear about what you want to have happen and how things will change- including consequences. But I'm a big fan of rewards and I think they work. Even though you may not see him much, you're probably right that he resents you being gone. Be respectful of whatever he says and make sure he feels heard- like "I understand you're upset that I'm not with yo more, and it upsets me too, but I work so that I can take care of you". Then spoil him with attention, not things. Praise him whenever he follows directions or using his manners. Compliment him, and take him to go do things just the two of you, then point out- 'see, we can do these things because we're not wasting time fighting' or 'see how much fun we have together when you're being a good listener?'. You can do lots of fun things in just an hour a day- whatever he's in to- go play basketball together, the playground, whatever. I think he can understand a sort of 'start over' but really make it more pleasing to be around you when he's behaving- and don't go back to rewarding any bad behavior. You have to follow through. Just remind him- 'no, we don't so that anymore. remember what we talked about?' And if he keeps up maybe try self time outs- "Fine, go to your room (take toys away first) and don't come out until you're ready to speak nicely" or whatever. That works for my 3 year old. Some kids need a time out just to calm down. But it's a good skill for them to learn to take themselves away when they're angry. And once they're calm they can listen again- so remind them- you were in time out because you were doing x and now we don't have time to do y. And then try to get over it.
Good luck!



answers from San Diego on

I set new rules/consequences, then be consistent in carrying them out. This might mean doing things like not taking him out at all for a while or giving him hot sauce or pepper when he speaks disrespectfully(this is what I do), or making him sleep in the hallway because he can't be grateful for what he has(I have a friend who did this).
You just have to find whatever it is that is the most important thing to him and use that as leverage toward good behavior. It could be anything from a small toy to a trip somewhere. The key is that you have to be consistent. If you say you are going to do something, do it, or he is not going to ever listen. He will test your resolve, and if you follow through, it will eventually get better.
It's a nice thought to be your child's friend, but that isn't what you are. You are his parent and need to act accordingly. You can be friends when he's grown. Right now he needs you to be his mom. So go do it.



answers from San Diego on

Hello, It is never too late to become a strong parent. You just have to choose the consequence and stick to it. I would tell him that I will no longer allow him to talk to me in a disrespectful way. I would then tell him that whenever he does talk to me in a disrespectful way, I will...... (send him to another room, or whatever you think is right). Then be ready for the long haul. I would stick with it for weeks if necessary. He is old enough to give you a run for your money. Also, when he tells you that he doesn't want to be around you, let him know that it is his right to feel that way, but that you are his parent and he will follow your directions. He will eventually come around. Remember, you are his parent and not his friend, he will have plenty of those, but only one mother.
Good luck with your precious son.
K. K.



answers from Los Angeles on

There's a couple of older books that are real helpful for parents:

Dare to Discipline
The Willful Child
both by Dr. J. Dobson

You might want to check them out.
Take care!



answers from Tampa on

Read Dr. James Dobson's book "The Strong Willed Child" and remember YOU are the mom, NOT his buddy. Children WANT boundaries and structure. You've lost some ground because you don't want to enforce the discipline and that is what's costing you the issues you have right now. be consistent - let him scream and cry and yell and put him back in his room and if you have to - lock the door. Take EVERYTHING out of it - toys, books, tv, laptop (which at his age why on EARTH does he have one?), other games etc. The more he sees that he can't break you down and you're not going to back down, it will start to sink in.


answers from Los Angeles on

J. it sounds like he is missing you, a lot, and it's a way of getting attention from you. You are shouldering this solo and you are probably tired after you and he get home. He wants you to pay attention to him. Before he has a chance to start up try taking out a board game like Chutes n Ladders or Candyland and tell him that you have been wanting to play with him all day. Maybe engaging him in a little mommy son time before the night time rituals will get him in a better mood. We are all guilty of turning on the TV for the kids so that we can get stuff done around the house but he probably wants you to engage with him since he doesn't get to spend time with you. They want your time more than toys.



answers from Los Angeles on

A 5 year old is old enough to understand take him in your arms of course sit down first and tell him what you wrote iin simple terms tell him you love him over andover again explain to him it is harad for you to leave him with relatives but you work and can not be with him as much as you would like that is you work together we can perhaps have some time to have fun together wont he be gong to kindergaren soon may be this will change then good luck tell him hurting himself only hurts him not you smart children understand raised4 and not have l7 grandchildren A. no hills

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