How to take control of a 5 year old?

Lisa - posted on 12/30/2008 ( 18 moms have responded )

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In the last few months, my husband has deployed and now my 5 year old doesnt listen to me, I have timed out her, whipped her, talk to her, and took her privileges away. If she does something bad, i say no. I believe a child deserves a reward fro a good deed, but more than likely that never happens. Now when i punish her she screams at the top of her lungs till the neighbors up stairs hear. She is very independent but doesnt like to be told what to do. I have corrected her on this, but with no luck. I have called to make an appointment with a behavioral therapist but i know this will fail. I have watch Super Nanny and gotten tips, but its not working. I would like to see my child change before my husband get back. She is fully aware of her actions and is extremely smart

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Shelley - posted on 01/08/2009

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I have the same problem, my daughter is 5 going on 15! She gives me such an attitude, argues with everything I say and even tells me no! I have gotten so angry and yelled but that makes me feel terrible after the fact. I have started to figure out that she really hates it if I just plain ignore her. She will get really upset at first and scream about me ignoring her (even says hurtful things to me) but eventually (only minutes) she quietly will ask me why I am ignoring her. I look at her in the eyes and tell her nicely that I don't want to talk to someone who is so mean and disrespectful to me and when she is ready to talk to me in a nice way then I will talk to her. It usually works, if not, she goes to her room and I let her scream and yell until she can calm herself down...then I try to talk to her.



Good Luck!

Connie - posted on 01/08/2009

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Hopefully much of her reaction stems from missing her dad.  Maybe her behavior will change when he returns.  I think the behavioral specialist is a great start.  Be positive, consistant and follow through.  Get down to her level and talk to her calmly (well it only works for the SuperNanny).  I noticed my kids are WORSE when I let them get the best of me and I loose control.

Lisa - posted on 01/07/2009

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Quoting Marcie:

Hi. My husband just recently deployed. Again. This is his second one in 3 years. My son is 4 1/2. I have some behavior issues with him but I find that its not that he isnt listening to me. I find that he is really trying to get my attention. First I would say call on God to help you through. Not only do we have to be with out or men but we have to be Mom and Dad to young children who just really don't understand whats happening. I dont know that I would be able to do it with out my God and my Church community. Second you have to make sure you get a sitter, your mom, sister whoever who can take your child for a day every once in a while, I do it about once a month where I can just do what ever, usually i just wind up going home again and relishing in the thought of 8 hrs or so with NO responsibility beyond myself. Third and just as important as the first two, and I noticed this helped during my husbands first deployment. Even tho I did not feel like it i had to bet on my sons level. I had to become involved in what interested him. I played blocks, I watched cartoons, I drew pictures. All of those things are pretty boreing to me especially when I was worried all the time about my husband, paying the bills, cleaning the house, etc. etc. You know the drill. Sit down and make a daily schedule. Kids LOVE schedules. If a child understands what is coming they are easier to handle. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner at the same time every day except for something special, Outside/park/playground time after nap time, Tv time in the morning what ever works best for your families needs. and STICK to it. You will tweak it every now and then to add in new activities and take out ones that have become boreing but you will be AMAZED at what regular meal times and bed times will do for children. And in your correction you have to MEAN what ever you say. If you threaten to take something away the you MUST follow thru with it. If you promise prize the same thing. Thought I think prizes should be for extraordinary behavior not jut how they should be acting anyway. And never, never, never give empty threats. Your kids know you better than you do. Especially as strong willed as your child sounds, she is pretty much saying she is in control and challenging you to do anything about it. Also its VERY easy to over correct our children when our husbands are away. We focus too much on them and catch everything. Sometimes you just have to know when its ok to turn a blind eye to bad behavior like you catch her sneaking a cookie but its not an all the time thing sometimes it ok to let that go. She doesnt clean her room perfectly its ok, she is only 5 and is living by your example, so instead of correcting through punishment, maybe through example or re training. I personally put no stock on behavioral therapists, psych dr.s or any of that fluff. That is my choice and I feel my life is MUCH more rewarding because of it. I hope i helped.


I know what you mean, i have been putting off the therepist but i am darn trying to work it out natural. trust me i am sticking to my guns on this.

Lisa - posted on 01/07/2009

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Quoting Brandie:

I have the same problem kind of. I am active duty and my husband is the stay at home parent. My son will do what ever my husband says immediatly. They have a very close bond. Since I have been gone so much, I was always like on the outside. My son did the same stuff to me as soon as my husband was out of the house! I tried every single thing you said, pops on the hand, taking away things, no treats, talking til i was blue in the face, time out. You name it I thought of it. My husband thought I was crazy. He didn't believe that he acted like that when he was gone. My son would get in my face and scream!!!! I didn't know what to do. And then one day I had had it. If he yelled at me one more time I was going to lose it. I picked him up and put him in his room. I looked at him and told him until he could behave like a 5 year old and start treating me like a parent I wasn't going to talk to him. It may sound mean but at the time I wanted to get in his face and yell and kick and scream like he did to me. So I just stepped away. I shut his door and went into my own room. And I waited. And after about 5 minutes I must have waited him out. He knocked on my door, came up to me and said that he apologized for his behavior (exactly those words). And then he askedif I accepted his appoligy and of course I did and from then on when he started with his fits I said think about what you are doing right now and walked away! Since that time I have never gotten frustrated with him! We have a perfect relationship. We can joke around but when it gets serious he knows that I won't play : )


your story sounds like mine, i have gotten her to the point of appologizing, but now her sister older sister has the disrespest of calling her names, and i have to come inbetween and stop that. then they both get into it. and of course the five year old is stronger than her older sister

Lisa - posted on 01/07/2009

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Quoting Rhonda:

Take everything out of her room except the bed, and dresser. Tell her when she behaves once a week she will get something back. And lock the stuff up or bring to a friends house.


thanks, i will keep it in mind

Lisa - posted on 01/07/2009

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Quoting Pam:

Hey Lisa,

I have this problem with my son as well. He was adopted after being a foster child and separation anxiety tends to play a part in this....so to be honest I know many people are telling you time out but many psychologists will tell you that time out can frequently make separation anxiety worst if they are separated from you...Imagine being removed from someone you loved and then having to be without someone else you love. If you want to do timeout...make sure they are in the room you are in but just not allowed to play or participate in the fun. But I'll be honest with you the best thing I have had to work for a very strong willed child is operant conditioning. My child is resistant to spanking, time outs and removal of favorite items. So operant conditioning works like this.....take your 5 year old to the store and allow them to pick out a toy that they believe is worthwhile(not too expensive). Place the toy where they can see it and then tell them how long they must behave in order to receive the toy. The child will see the toy and usually it motivates them much more than punishment or fear. What would work better for you....to be afraid of something or know you would get rewarded for doing a good job.

Good luck! By the way I am working on finishing my PhD in Developmental/Family psychology.

Also, thanks to you and your family....my husband family is military and I feel for you.

Take care!


wow thanks, i does make sense because it something they want to earn... i guess its hard to think from one day to the other and not being able to concentrate whats in front of me.

Lisa - posted on 01/07/2009

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Quoting Andrea:

Be strong!! Don't back down and don't resort to arguing with her. Make your decisions and stick with them. Time out works here, 1 minute for every year. I've even had to punish my 12 year old in this way. It's sometimes for me more than them. Hang in there and your husband is doing a very brave and selfless act my serving our country, he deserves big props for that.
Good Luck.


lol, i am laughing because i give her 5 min for 5 years old. but i catch my self waiting 5 mins and she still screaming and yelling in the room. i would go 2 times more and tack a min for each time i go in. finally i let her get wore out and now she does come out and  apologize.. how do you know if a Gemini will finally learn? I have heard their are stubborn in their way

Lisa - posted on 01/07/2009

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Quoting Dawn:

stand strong where you are, dont give up. Say no as much you can, be calm.. spanking wouldnt help, or yelling either.. i have a 4 years old son going on 5 in a week and half. he is already out of control since his dad and i get seperate. My son would talk back and he totally disrespect me and he doesnt even act like im his mother. So i constantly putting him in time out. and i would have to give him a play job, such as play doh (clay), drawing, i often put him in craft time and all that. keep him distracted and learn at the same time. I got him a Tele-story, he read all the time and play lil with it, its something that can hook up on tv or use headphone to listen and all.. and have some one on one with your kid, she would like some of your attention. 30 minutes top. if she get upset when u say no, and if she scream to the top of her lung, send her to her room. I did that to my son he would scream above his lung and his face turn red. all i do is send him to his room and told him he have to stay in his room until he get all calm down then he can come out and talk with me. try to be firm with your girl. I saw this nanny911.. there a similar situtation but their dad died a year ago. have to stay strong and stick to your way. Oh and i recently made a chart it a system for my child. if he make his bed, he get points or marble or something to put in the jar if he keep up with good behavior then add more marble.. then later at the end of the week. there will be a reward as ice cream or candy or something what your daughter would love to get as reward.. it is really good system for your child.


we had done the chart thing and good behavior when she was still wetting the bed, it worked also for her behavior. I am at fault cause i stopped after my husband had deployed

Lisa - posted on 01/07/2009

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Quoting Jennifer:

Ya my husband is deployed as well and its are first deployment and my kids have been acting out since he's been gone too.What I have been doing is time outs in the corner. Taking there fav toy or game away. Just redirect is problay the best thing you can do, and I also feel for good behavor to reward them. Hopefully some of these suggestions work for you. I have also notice to keep a child busy and get them invovle always works as well..


thank you, i will take this into consideration...

Lisa - posted on 01/07/2009

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thanks we tried the chart method, but i gave it up the day he left...she is so strong willed. i will think about things like her drawing and coloring pics for her dad. it seems to content her more. thanx

Marcie - posted on 12/31/2008

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Hi. My husband just recently deployed. Again. This is his second one in 3 years. My son is 4 1/2. I have some behavior issues with him but I find that its not that he isnt listening to me. I find that he is really trying to get my attention. First I would say call on God to help you through. Not only do we have to be with out or men but we have to be Mom and Dad to young children who just really don't understand whats happening. I dont know that I would be able to do it with out my God and my Church community. Second you have to make sure you get a sitter, your mom, sister whoever who can take your child for a day every once in a while, I do it about once a month where I can just do what ever, usually i just wind up going home again and relishing in the thought of 8 hrs or so with NO responsibility beyond myself. Third and just as important as the first two, and I noticed this helped during my husbands first deployment. Even tho I did not feel like it i had to bet on my sons level. I had to become involved in what interested him. I played blocks, I watched cartoons, I drew pictures. All of those things are pretty boreing to me especially when I was worried all the time about my husband, paying the bills, cleaning the house, etc. etc. You know the drill. Sit down and make a daily schedule. Kids LOVE schedules. If a child understands what is coming they are easier to handle. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner at the same time every day except for something special, Outside/park/playground time after nap time, Tv time in the morning what ever works best for your families needs. and STICK to it. You will tweak it every now and then to add in new activities and take out ones that have become boreing but you will be AMAZED at what regular meal times and bed times will do for children. And in your correction you have to MEAN what ever you say. If you threaten to take something away the you MUST follow thru with it. If you promise prize the same thing. Thought I think prizes should be for extraordinary behavior not jut how they should be acting anyway. And never, never, never give empty threats. Your kids know you better than you do. Especially as strong willed as your child sounds, she is pretty much saying she is in control and challenging you to do anything about it. Also its VERY easy to over correct our children when our husbands are away. We focus too much on them and catch everything. Sometimes you just have to know when its ok to turn a blind eye to bad behavior like you catch her sneaking a cookie but its not an all the time thing sometimes it ok to let that go. She doesnt clean her room perfectly its ok, she is only 5 and is living by your example, so instead of correcting through punishment, maybe through example or re training. I personally put no stock on behavioral therapists, psych dr.s or any of that fluff. That is my choice and I feel my life is MUCH more rewarding because of it. I hope i helped.

User - posted on 12/31/2008

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I have the same problem kind of. I am active duty and my husband is the stay at home parent. My son will do what ever my husband says immediatly. They have a very close bond. Since I have been gone so much, I was always like on the outside. My son did the same stuff to me as soon as my husband was out of the house! I tried every single thing you said, pops on the hand, taking away things, no treats, talking til i was blue in the face, time out. You name it I thought of it. My husband thought I was crazy. He didn't believe that he acted like that when he was gone. My son would get in my face and scream!!!! I didn't know what to do. And then one day I had had it. If he yelled at me one more time I was going to lose it. I picked him up and put him in his room. I looked at him and told him until he could behave like a 5 year old and start treating me like a parent I wasn't going to talk to him. It may sound mean but at the time I wanted to get in his face and yell and kick and scream like he did to me. So I just stepped away. I shut his door and went into my own room. And I waited. And after about 5 minutes I must have waited him out. He knocked on my door, came up to me and said that he apologized for his behavior (exactly those words). And then he askedif I accepted his appoligy and of course I did and from then on when he started with his fits I said think about what you are doing right now and walked away! Since that time I have never gotten frustrated with him! We have a perfect relationship. We can joke around but when it gets serious he knows that I won't play : )

Rhonda - posted on 12/31/2008

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Take everything out of her room except the bed, and dresser. Tell her when she behaves once a week she will get something back. And lock the stuff up or bring to a friends house.

Pam - posted on 12/30/2008

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Hey Lisa,

I have this problem with my son as well. He was adopted after being a foster child and separation anxiety tends to play a part in this....so to be honest I know many people are telling you time out but many psychologists will tell you that time out can frequently make separation anxiety worst if they are separated from you...Imagine being removed from someone you loved and then having to be without someone else you love. If you want to do timeout...make sure they are in the room you are in but just not allowed to play or participate in the fun. But I'll be honest with you the best thing I have had to work for a very strong willed child is operant conditioning. My child is resistant to spanking, time outs and removal of favorite items. So operant conditioning works like this.....take your 5 year old to the store and allow them to pick out a toy that they believe is worthwhile(not too expensive). Place the toy where they can see it and then tell them how long they must behave in order to receive the toy. The child will see the toy and usually it motivates them much more than punishment or fear. What would work better for you....to be afraid of something or know you would get rewarded for doing a good job.

Good luck! By the way I am working on finishing my PhD in Developmental/Family psychology.

Also, thanks to you and your family....my husband family is military and I feel for you.

Take care!

Andrea - posted on 12/30/2008

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Be strong!! Don't back down and don't resort to arguing with her. Make your decisions and stick with them. Time out works here, 1 minute for every year. I've even had to punish my 12 year old in this way. It's sometimes for me more than them. Hang in there and your husband is doing a very brave and selfless act my serving our country, he deserves big props for that.

Good Luck.

Dawn - posted on 12/30/2008

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stand strong where you are, dont give up. Say no as much you can, be calm.. spanking wouldnt help, or yelling either.. i have a 4 years old son going on 5 in a week and half. he is already out of control since his dad and i get seperate. My son would talk back and he totally disrespect me and he doesnt even act like im his mother. So i constantly putting him in time out. and i would have to give him a play job, such as play doh (clay), drawing, i often put him in craft time and all that. keep him distracted and learn at the same time. I got him a Tele-story, he read all the time and play lil with it, its something that can hook up on tv or use headphone to listen and all.. and have some one on one with your kid, she would like some of your attention. 30 minutes top. if she get upset when u say no, and if she scream to the top of her lung, send her to her room. I did that to my son he would scream above his lung and his face turn red. all i do is send him to his room and told him he have to stay in his room until he get all calm down then he can come out and talk with me. try to be firm with your girl. I saw this nanny911.. there a similar situtation but their dad died a year ago. have to stay strong and stick to your way. Oh and i recently made a chart it a system for my child. if he make his bed, he get points or marble or something to put in the jar if he keep up with good behavior then add more marble.. then later at the end of the week. there will be a reward as ice cream or candy or something what your daughter would love to get as reward.. it is really good system for your child.

User - posted on 12/30/2008

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Ya my husband is deployed as well and its are first deployment and my kids have been acting out since he's been gone too.What I have been doing is time outs in the corner. Taking there fav toy or game away. Just redirect is problay the best thing you can do, and I also feel for good behavor to reward them. Hopefully some of these suggestions work for you. I have also notice to keep a child busy and get them invovle always works as well..

Libby - posted on 12/30/2008

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First, let me thank you for your husbands service to our country. My brother is also deployed. My daughter has had this same problem since early on in her life. Your child seems to be very strong willed. Some things that I have tried are sticker charts that work toward a reward. At that age, you have to constantly remind them that they are working toward the reward. Also your child is probably testing limits because they miss dad. I know that my daughter has been affected by her Uncle's deployment. She misses him greatly. I encourage her to let me know her feelings and we make cards and send packages. Good luck! I hope that this helps a little.

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