Sassy and Badly Behaved Five Year Old

Updated on July 20, 2011
K.H. asks from Sterling Heights, MI
11 answers

I am just out of ideas with my five year old daughter, she is so beautiful and has a wealth of talents. However, we are horribly sassy and so no respect for me, teachers, basically any in authority. I thought I was raising her in a nice home with good values, I have no idea what is happening. We have tried everything I can think of and I am reading books left and right-so far nothing is working at least not more than once. I will take any advice from parents out there that have been there, I am a working mom so I feel like the hours I get with my kids are too few and so precious I want to enjoy them. I plan and look forward to all our time even if it is a simple picnic on the living room floor but find myself so disappointed when all the negativity starts. Please help!

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

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

Can you give examples of what she is doing and how you handle them? that may help with giving you some better advice.

Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Portland on

Do you give her an immediate consequence in a calm but firm voice?

My daughter was having this difficulty with her children and a counselor suggested having just one consequence for all misbehavior. She sends her children to their room. It's not a time out. It's a you're not good company, go to your room thing. They can do whatever they want in their room. The idea is to give them an opportunity to calm down and think about why they're there. We do much of our thinking while we're otherwise occupied. When we're forced to do something such as sit on a chair and think we become angry and think about how unfair this is to sit on a chair.

When they come out they are expected to apologize. If they don't they go back. Once they apologize or during the apology they have a calm discussion of what they did and how to be better next time. They get a hug and I love you along with encouraging words to do better next time.

It took several weeks for this to be consistently done to see a change. Now they are much better behaved and rarely sassy.

I fell into the trap of wanting to have good times with my daughter and overlooked her behavior some of the time. This didn't work. We have to consistently stop the sassing and behavior as it happens to get to the place that we can enjoy the time together.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

I have a tough son. Very similar to your daughter. My son would mow over me or anyone else in authority if I'd let him. I had to be "tougher" to gain his respect. I did that by letting him know that everything he had was a gift and if we weren't treated the way we expected to be treated, he'd lose his things. He had to EARN play dates, sleepovers etc. He had to understand that I was in control. To make a long story short. It worked. He's a great kid now but it was ROUGH there for awhile.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

Oh! I think I have her twin. :(
I know exactly what you mean by "the negativity".
The only thing that has been helping is swift and constant consequences.

Best wishes!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I agree with the person who said that sending them to their room can be a good consequence for disrespectful behavior or a bad attitude. in the past my son has had a hard time with respecting the boundaries we set for him, and I finally just started telling him that if he couldn't follow the rules he needed to go in his room. He could walk or I could take him... no discussion until he could listen and come back with an apology and a better way of doing things. Certain behavior was just no longer tolerated, and if he wanted to be out in the common areas he had to follow the expectations. It was followed by talking if needed, but for him it mostly was about creating a solid boundary for his behavior. When he was younger, I used time-outs sparingly, but they weren't that effective.

My daughter can be sassy and have an attitude about things. With her it is often about her feeling sad or bad about something that she's having trouble expressing, so it just comes out in this [email protected] attitude. She is old enough (and I believe at 5 your daughter is old enough) to sit down and have a real conversation about their attitude and your expectations. You care about how she feels, you want to have fun with her, but her attitude and the words she says (negativity), ruin the fun for everyone. Maybe she isn't feeling like she's getting enough attention, she's jealous of a sibling, she has other issues going on with friends or in school that she doesn't know how to deal with... could be any number of things.

I'd try to keep the lines of communication open with her and see if you can get to the bottom of it. Your post doesn't give me enough information to know what you're doing or what's not working, so I'll just recommend to try using compassion and understanding instead of frustration and punishment. 5 is a tough age and with my daughter at least (now 7), it's gotten a little better, and a little more complicated as she's gotten older.

One of my very favorite books " Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child" may be a good read for you...

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

If she were sassy just to you, that's one thing. But you said anyone in authority? I think it might be time to call in reinforcements. It may be time for a child psychologist, a good one, who can evaluate her and be able to offer you guidance. I'm not talking about having someone diagnose her and that's it, but someone YOU feel comfortable working with so that you can have a more positive (or at least empowering) relationship with your daughter.

My heart really goes out to you. Just reading your previous questions, the answer may be that she is troubled by marital discord. Either way, to have more support is never a bad thing.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Ages 5-6 are often mouthy years. She needs lots of opportunity to talk out her feelings and that might mean a therapist who is experienced with children. Sounds angry to me. You sound like a great mom and you must be very frustrated. Firm boundaries. The Love & Logic method is a good one. Would she journal - this can be drawing, recording or whatever works for her skill level. I wouldn't make too much out of her rudeness so as not to escalate it if she's doing it for attention. Just calm instructions and logical consequences. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Its tough to control your child's behavior when you are not there all the time. Kids learn this behavior from TV and other children. Somehow we think watching rude and sassy children on TV is entertaining, yet it really is not in real life. I'd examine what types of media influences your daughter is exposed to and decide if they're helping or hurting the problem. I'd also consider who you allow to be a close friend/or spends lots of time with. Also be sure that whatever rules you have for her behavior are also supported/upheld in school/day care so there is consistency.

As far as teaching her to behave properly, its a lot of work. Make a rule list that is posted on the fridge or some central location of the home. Explain all the rules to her, put pictures on it too to remind her what they are. Explain what the consequences for breaking the rules are, and then give one warning before punishment. Keep cool calm and collected, and easy way to do that is to walk her to the rule chart for both her warning and before you discipline her. This gives you a chance to cool down and get ready to deal with her. Make her identify the rule she's broken and tell you what the consequence is. Do the warning/punishment after this. Do this every time. Consistency is what is going to work in the long run.

If she's strong willed, it can take a LOT of time to over come it. Strong willed kids believe (sincerely) that they can win. They want to control the parent, and even if you tell them no 100 times, they think that maybe the 101'st time it will be okay. If you've been inconsistent in the past, then it can take longer. However, don't give up, she'll get it.

Really think through the rules and discipline. That way when you implement it, you won't have to tweak or change it much. That will help the child realize that these rules are here to stay and they have to fall into line. You're the parent, they are the child. They have to obey.

Here's an example of the rules I have for my 4.5 year old daughter:
-no hurting others (hitting, kicking, pinching, etc...)
-no destroying property (drawing in books, on walls, ripping stuff up, playing with soap or lotion, etc...)
-no angry words (shouting, name calling, growling, etc...)
-no temper tantrums (whining, throwing a fit, etc...)
-no bad table manners (eat all food, not playing with it, etc...)
-respect other's property (books, phones, computers, each other's toys...)

She gets a spanking for the first two (they have their own column on the rule chart) and time out for the others. If she continues to do something in the time out column in a short period of time, she gets a spanking. This is what we do, I'd suggest finding your own system, this one is just an idea.

Best wishes!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Well she IS young, but not so young that understanding having no friends stinks if this is her game plan.
I can offer what worked very well in a controlled environment. All three of my boys---now adults---were in tae kwon do. There, disrespect was met with push ups.
You didn't say if you implement the naughty chair or time out area, as is used on Supernanny. Great show, by the way. It's a matter of consistency, getting an apology when her time out is up, getting her to see she's accountable for her behavior. Don't take any smart alecky stuff. The game is up. Now it's time to learn the serious lessons. Because at 5, she will be going to kindergarten and having to learn hard lessons in front of people.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Your post reminded me of our friends and neighbors. Their oldest was just so difficult all the time. They did go see a therapist which helped and one take away was the daughter was very jealous of her younger sibling. Of course, the younger one is sweeter and I guess the parents made it rather evident that they appreciated that behaviour... They read the book called something like Siblings Without Rivalry and apparently it helped a lot. Either the book or their dr also called for 1:1 time with the daughter. Not sure if it's the same issue for you but thought I'd mention. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Boot negative out !!!! its hard but you need to stay positive any negative thrown reverse it to positive. put her in out time where she doesnt like the spot like a corner with her nose to it.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions