Need Input on 5 Year Old's Behavior

Updated on March 02, 2009
J.L. asks from Pearland, TX
31 answers

Our 5 year old son is very strong willed and I can appreciate that but he seems to be more defiant the older he gets. He will scream "NO" or whatever else at myself or his Dad and then when you ask him not to scream, he'll do it just to do it. Wondering if anyone else encounters this with their child that is 5. I guess I think he is old enough now to know that he should not be screaming or not being respectful or following the rules...within reason for a 5 year old.

Any input is greatly appreciated.

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So What Happened?

I got the 1,2,3 Magic book today and have started reading it. I'm determined to nip this in the bud! This has not been something that is typical of him for years, it has just been in the past year. I think I will have to learn to just be quiet according to that book so this will be work for me too but we'll get through it.

THANK YOU!

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L.B.

answers from Corpus Christi on

He is getting a reaction from you when he does this. Do not give in and try to not give a reaction ignore it go the other direction let him be embarressed with his behavior. He will see it and stop on his own.

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P.B.

answers from Houston on

He is testing the limits and you've got to put a stop to it NOW. Don't allow him to get away with it. You must sit him down at the first opportunity that he's NOT misbehaving and let him know the rules, (shouting at parents is disrespectful, when I ask you to do something I expect you to do it, when you answer you must do it calmly and in a nice voice), why (shouting at grownups is disrespectful and inappropriate) and then what the consequence will be if he does it (hand held game taken away, go to room, whatever will be punishment for HIM). Then DO it - you must follow thru. You don't have to say a word, just do whatever it is immediately without anger. It can't be wrong for him and right for you. Good luck!!! If you don't stop it now, it'll only escalate and be worse later. It's up to you as the grown up and parent to set the boundries and then make certain they're inforced.

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C.B.

answers from Odessa on

Every child goes through phases and hard times, but it's how you handle it that will help him to learn from those times. I highly recommend "Love and Logic" books. They one from birth-6yrs. I have read that one and it is magical! Just changing a few things of how you parent makes all the difference in the world. You need to be in control. My son can understand all that at 3yrs old since we've started that book. we rarely have tantrums in public and I've been told he's a very polite little boy. I have to sons that have totally different personalities an it works for both of them! I really hope you read this book. it helps tremendously! Good luck!

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P.P.

answers from Houston on

Find a copy of 1-2-3. It worked beautifully for us.

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J.T.

answers from San Antonio on

Hi J.,
My son is 4 and is the same way. What works best for me is when i sit him on time-out (He is still screaming), I put my hands on his shoulders and i tell him i know that he's mad but he knows that his behavior is unacceptable, then i just start taking deep breaths and he starts doing the same. Once he has calmed down he sits on time-out for four minutes. I use a dinner timer so that he can watch the time go by and that seems to help too. I find it best not to tell your child how to feel but rather help them control their emotions like most parents im sure. Just stay patient, it really helps. Its nice know im not alone! Good Luck!

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K.A.

answers from Austin on

Hi J. - A 2 year old should be told that it is inappropriate to scream (especially at his parents) so if you have been allowing him to raise his voice until now, it will be difficult to convince him that it is not OK. He is old enough to be sat down and told that raising his voice is disrespectful and will not be tolerated and then the first time he does it, give him consequences immediately. Send him to his room, time out, take away privileges etc... whatever you do, stay consistent and do not allow him to get his way with it one time. Zero tolerance! If he does it at a restaurant, pack up and leave. If he is with you at the grocery store or a movie - get in the car and go home. If he is about to go outside to play, send him to his room instead. You are right about it getting worse ..... if it is going on at 5 - you can bet he will do it times ten at 15!

Good Luck!

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A.J.

answers from Killeen on

he's just testing his limits! my 4 1/2 yr old does this all the time. just today i told her to leave her sister alone b/c she was bugging her and told her not to touch what her sister was playing with, so she reached out and just touched it real quick LOL (hard not to laugh at her!) anyway i just told her to come inside, and had her sit in time-out for 4 1/2 minutes (1 min. per year of age). i sat the chair facing a closed door so it was no fun =) and i told her the timer wouldn't start until she stopped screaming. she resisted at first, but after about a minute, she sat in the chair quietly. at first defiantly, but after about 3 minutes she was calmed down. then after the timer went off i reminded her why she had to sit in time out and had her apologize to me and her sister.
the key is just pick whatever discipline works for you and your son and STICK TO IT. if you are inconsistent, he will not learn and just keep pushing his boundaries to see where the line is.

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M.B.

answers from Houston on

I have a strong-willed kid too -- you have my sympathies! :-) Your son sounds like a GREAT candidate for the system of discipline called 1,2,3, Magic. My husband and I started it with our daughter at 6 and to me it is the only thing that has helped a lot over time. My husband finds nearly any system to work pretty well becuase he has natural authority and is naturally inclined not to LET that authority be ignored, but I do NOT have a lot of natural authority and 1,2,3 Magic is the one system I've found that is so simple that I can remember to use it all the time and can't mess it up. The great thing is that it is a way to teach the child exactly what isn't acceptable, and to do it without a lot of talking, emotion or drama. Perfect for a kid who screams, and many other difficult but typical behaviors.

all the best!
M.

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D.M.

answers from Houston on

I haven't read the other responses yet, so it's possible someone else already mentioned this... Is it possible he's looking for attention because of the newborn? While you may feel you're spending as much time with both of them, he may not. Do you have one-on-one time with him? I am the 2nd in of 4 and I remember my younger bro going through this when our youngest bro was born. Mom said my sis did the same thing when I was born. Not sure if I did or not, but from stories I've heard, I've always been very independent and didn't care if they paid attention to me or not- I'd just do my own thing.

One way to handle it is to immediately discipline him each time he acts disrespectfully and be consistent with it. Our 4yo son has time-out every time he acts out, always has. Even if we are in a store, he has to sit down in a certain spot on the floor with me right beside him or ride in the basket for however long his time-out is, etc. He needs to understand that this is not an appropriate way to get attention. We always tell our son to use his words rather than throwing a fit, and after time-out, we reinforce that this is not an appropriate way to get attention. If he wants our attention, then he needs to say so.

Granted, I do only have one child of my own right now, but I come from the experience of having raised my siblings.

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K.K.

answers from Portland on

It is possible you son is just a normal, active child testing his limits. However....

My daughter started doing the same things at 4. Friends and family (who do not live with her 24/7) kept telling me that she was normal and fine and I was just too stressed from being a single parent to realize it was all normal.

They were wrong. She was beyond what a normal child would do. She became progressively worse until even school (in kindergarten) suggested I have her seen by a therapist.

She was diagnosed as being ODD (oppositional defiant disorder). It's usually a small part of ADD. However, in my daughter's case it was the only thing. I fought meds for years and simply had her in therapy. She could go days or weeks with no problems at all, then suddenly all hell would break loose.

When I caught her shoplifting at 9 years old, I did two things. 1) I made her take the items back to the store (I went with her) and made her tell them what she had done. Then I took her to the police department and had them walk her through what would have happened had someone besides me caught her or the store owner had decided to press charges. 2) I had her started on meds to help her control impulse button much better.

After five years of her getting progressively worse I could not take it any more. It was either that or send her away. Her tantrums had gotten to the point where she had to be physically restrained until she calmed down. She was detructive to property, her own and other peoples. And, when in a full blown tantrum she would flail about blindly and anyone or anything in her way was harmed.

Your son does not sound like he is there yet. And he may never get that far. But I would watch and see if these outbursts progress to tantrums and so forth.

If there are other symptoms that make you think he could be ADD a simple way to test it is to give your son a half cup of BLACK coffee. You cannot use a substitue for the coffe to get your son to drink it (jolt and mountain dew all have sugar in them which changes the results) therefore it MUST be straight black coffee. IF after drinking it, he seems calmer and less likely to tell you no in that way...then you should have him seen.

Not all doctors prescribe enough meds to turn kids into zombies. The idea is to find a medication and strength that allows your child to function normally while controlling the impulse behavior that causes the problem.

Please do not hear that I am saying your child needs to be medicated, I am just saying if things progress to that point, you should be aware that you have control over how much and what your child is given... ;-)

I hope this was informative and lets you know what to look for if this is more than normal testing of boundaries... ;-)

Good luck to you and your family... ;-)

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K.A.

answers from Sherman on

Hi J.. We have a 4 y/o son and a 5 month old son. Before the baby I can't even begin to tell you what a sweet, kind, well behaved little boy my oldest was, now....it's all about the baby! I promise you! He is only acting out because of the changes in the home and the only things that will fix it are time and love! We've had to make it very clear that we love him just as much as we always did and he is still the most special "big boy" in the world!! but, we love baby brother too and he's not going away! He is just beginning to really want to take on the "big brother" role and realizing how important he is to his baby brother and we are getting our sweet little boy back little by little! Good luck!

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T.F.

answers from Austin on

Hi There-

I have a 5yr old boy 3yr old girl and 7 month old boy.
Parenting is humbling isnt it! The book with love and logic helped me out greatly! It taught me how to speak to my children. How to word things to bring out the best in my kids. This book will really help you! Boy do I know what it is like to have a strong willed child:)
Good Luck!

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R.L.

answers from Houston on

I also reccomend Parenting the Strong Willed Child. My son is also very strong willed and stubborn. This book helped us a lot. Our big issue was consistency and meaning what we say. You can just threaten punishment you have to be willing to follow through. (Even though it's hard!!) We ended up getting very tough, but then as his behavior improved we could loosen up a bit.

We found our copy on Amazon.comfairly cheap:

http://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Strong-Willed-Child-Rex-F...

I'm sure you could find it at half price books too.

Good luck!

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M.N.

answers from Longview on

Have you read the book called The Strong Willed Child. It is an easy read and very helpful. Being very consistant is the best key. Follow the discipline with love. Maybe if he helped with the baby and felt he is needed that would help a little. Sometimes feeling needed or helpful can make a difference. Praying for you.

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C.F.

answers from Brownsville on

My son is the same way. I found that I thought I was being consistent with his punishment, but realized when others asked me what I was doing I did not have a clear answer to give.

I have since started sending him to his room or other time out area every time he misbehaves. He has improved a lot and I do not feel so hopeless anymore. My son is seven. It is exhausting, but it gets better. I was starting to scream, back out of frustration and I am now learning how to be patient again.

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J.C.

answers from Austin on

I have a 5 year old son and he's not so much strong willed but he does say NO alot and he doesn't listen very well. Which really frustrates me. So I finally decided to clean out his room completely of ALL his toys. And I have told him that he has to EARN them back. I know this may sound cruel but I can not explain to you the difference it has made in my son's attitude!! Just in 4 days, when I ask him to do something I only have to ask once. He seems to be alot calmer. I really feel that he is overwhelmed with all his toys. Many times he can't find the toy he wants b/c there is sooooooo much!! I hope this helps. You need to find your son's collateral and work with that. Good Luck!

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L.P.

answers from Houston on

I, too, have had problems with my 5-year-old son. Last summer was particularly bad. We instituted a "no tolerance" policy whereby every act of disrespect was met with a punishment. Within a week or two, his behavior was better. We still have occasional relapses, but we go right back to tough love when that happens. We tend to rely on timeout, but sometimes, if we think being tired is part of the problem, we'll require he take a nap. Or you could take away a favorite toy, or reading at bedtime, etc.

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J.T.

answers from Victoria on

Time outs are needed and prehaps taking away a toy for a few days if that time out isnt effectiave. Spanking is always a last resort and for only really bad things ( like harming oneself or others). I am all for time outs I think its a min for their age. So five mins for him or it could be longer.

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S.O.

answers from San Antonio on

You can't allow it. You must punish in some way immediately and harshly enough to truly get his attention. It has to hurt him or it's not a consequence that will ever be remembered. All kids do this - but not all kids continue to do this. I personally use many methods of punishment, including spanking. I recommend the book How To Train Up A Child by Michael Pearl at nogreaterjoy.org. You have to be meaner, more stubborn, and stronger than he is. It's a power struggle that if you choose to let him win, then everyone loses including him.

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J.H.

answers from Houston on

If my grandson screamed at me, I wouldn't slap him across the mouth,altho that's what he would deserve, but I would put him across my lap and give him a good spanking and a promise that each time he screamed at me he'ed get another one. Then he'ed go into silent time out, not out of sight in his room, but against the wall in whatever room I happen to be in so I could insure that he sat straight and silently for the entire time out period. Sometimes we have to be a little harsh with them, but they get the message. Otherwise, prepare for this to just get worse because he certainly won't stop it on his own.

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D.B.

answers from Houston on

Hi. There are several very good books and videos on raising a strong-willed or spirited child. I know any time we put new parenting techniques in place it feels a little "clunky" while we're getting used to it, but it's worth it! Also, there's a book called How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and How to Listen so Kids will Talk, by Faber and Mazlish--very good, too. Good luck.

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D.M.

answers from San Antonio on

we have a strong willed daughter and it can be very difficult. the best advice is the instant they act up you set up the consequences. unfortunately you will have to do this instantly. with our daughter she HATES timeout in a chair in another room where she can't see us. it drives her nuts. so when she disobeys she goes to timeout. first offense, no second chances. if you give them a 2nd or 3rd chance then they think your word means nothing!

we have been using the love and logic book as well which has really helped. it gives her options when options are available. do you want to watch the show now or clean up your toys after the show. that way they can chose which makes them feel the power. but when there aren't any options then there aren't any options it is do it now or consequence.

it is really hard the first few weeks, very hard. but it gets easier and things will start to flow better. better to do it now before they become too set in their ways and your watching a nanny show trying to figure out what to do.

our daughter is 4 1/2 and we've been at this for awhile. you have to take control of his environment so he has to follow what your saying. also, we have a timeout place upstairs which works if she is really acting out in timeout itself. quiet time by herself is hard for her. you'll have to find out what his button is... toys, games, shows, timeout, timeout away from everyone, ... good luck.

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B.S.

answers from San Antonio on

I glanced at a few of the responses. Seeking attention because of a new baby is very possible. If it continues, or gets worse, you may really want to read The Explosive Child by Greene. Lots of excellent advice in that book!! Also, any of the Love and Logic parenting books offer great suggestions. The most important thing I had to learn with my son is to stay calm, no matter how defiant he was. The more I got angry, the more I fed into his anger and defiance, and it would just escalate. Both books I mentioned above helps to teach strategies where you stay in control of the discipline and child while remaining calm, or as calm as possible. Also, they talk about appropriate consequences for misbehavior to help the child learn proper behavior.

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S.B.

answers from Austin on

When my son was in preschool he was throwing things and screaming all the time. I took him to a therapist that told me that this kid is strong willed and smart you better make sure hs is accountable by putting him in time out for 2 time his age.
Once I started being very strict he was able to not get into so much trouble in school.
He started on ADHD medicine in 1st grade and now he is 8 1/2 and is doing great in school.
Best of luck!!
S. B

S.

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S.P.

answers from Houston on

I need help with this too. My 3 yr old is on the same path!

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J.G.

answers from Houston on

omg i am in the same boat.i have a 4 1/2 yr old that doesnt want to listen. i was just told recently that she is not listening in school also. i took away 2 things she likes bc she got 2 sad faces on her weekly report,but i dont think that worked bc she wasnt listening at school yesterday. i will definately keep in mind all the advice everyone has been giving.goodluck to you.

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S.R.

answers from Beaumont on

I have a 3 year old who is just the same. I try to be cosistent but Daddy is a softy and the inlaws live next door and usually laugh at all the behavior so I never get my jjob done correctly! Sorry I can not help I was hoping to find some myself so later I need to read all these responses also

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S.B.

answers from Houston on

He could be acting out because he has a new brother and wants attention. Was he like this before? My son is now 16 but when he was around 5ish we noticed that he was strong willed and didn't think he had to follow our rules. His comment was "you aren't the boss of me". By 2 or 3 grade I had him meet with a child therapist. He had problems managing his temper and the therapist taught him ways on how to deal with his anger. The therapist really helped. I don't know where we would be without her. My son is 6'1 and weighs 200 lbs. and I don't know where we would be if he still was having his anger problems. We lived out of state but we found AGAPE (Christian based) therapists helped. You can find them in the yellow pages. Good luck!

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E.G.

answers from Houston on

is doing it for attendtion, since now he has a baby brother. You are probably spending more time w/ the baby since he does need it more. set a side some time for your 5 yr. old to spend some time together, maybe while the baby is napping.

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K.C.

answers from Houston on

I have 2 five year olds, one is extremely strong willed. I don't have time to say more, except I would recommend the book "Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm" by Beth a Grosshans, PhD. It teaches techniques on leading your child - Be consistent with it.

Good luck.

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J.H.

answers from Houston on

hello J.,well first off let me say sorry you are going threw this with him.let me tell you girl my son is now 13 going on 30 lol.my problem started with him when he was five in a half we would tell him that was ugly but if i had it to do over again i would have put a stop to it then.now he is 13 its very hard he stands up to his father and says ugly things to him acts like he will fight him.so put a stop to it why he is steal little because if not it will only lead to this.oh teen years are hell i hate it so bad i cant wait till its over.but i wish yall well for the sake of ur marrige and yalls life put a end to it now.u might have to take away what ever stuff he like the most and try to ground him.well take care

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