tigerson32's picture

5 year old who does what she wants

My husband and I are having problems with our daughter.  She doesn't listen all the time,  she thinks she can do what she wants when she wants to.  I am frustrated because I really don't want to spank her or take things away, yet I am finding myself doing both.  We have tried time out.  She even goes there herself.   I believe she is very smart, but tries us all the time.  We do follow through with punishments and have been for the last 5 years.  She still tries.  I would think it would stop by now.

Char29's picture

I'm having the same problem with my five year old.  She is my only child and can be very trying at times.  I've tried numerous techniques to try and avoid those daily battles, but to no avail.  She's generally a pretty good kid, but listening is a definate problem area.  I've tried doing reward systems for good listening.  It doesn't work all that well because her attention span isn't that long.  I've gotten a few things from Nanny 911, nothing has worked well for me.  She is at her worst when she is tired, so I'm trying to read her tireness to avoid getting to the point of frustration.  I just hate being frustrated with her.  I try and resort to early to bed or doing something quiet/relaxing such as reading a story or doing a dot to dot.

MBeth's picture

I have read what the 2 mothers of 5 year olds have written, and I feel how frustrated and at wits end that you both are.

I have 4 grown children, have a degree in Early Childhood Education and 22+ years in the Childcare field.

Moms, please believe me when I say....be careful of all the "techniques" out there.  The best very basic advice I have for you is to remember above all else - YOU are the parent and they are the children.

At this age you can not, must not, try to be their friend and try to win their love and acceptance.  It is your job to be their authority.  Authority with love and respect, but they need to learn to respect and listen to you. We are all afraid of two words in this present generation and those words are "NO" and "obedience".

Parenting can be easier if you show unconditional love to your child and give her strong and consistant boundaries and insist that she obeys  you.

If you need more information on exactly how to do those basic things, I would be glad to elaborate via email.

robbret's picture

Hi MBeth,

I have a 3 and 6 year old, boy and girl respectively, that don't listen to a word I say. I find myself repeating the same thing over and over and over until I am screaming and at my wits end.

I feel like I have zero control and have spanked them on occasion on the behind. I send them to their rooms and take things away but to no avail.


We do have a good relationship and show each other unconditional love and we do things together all the time but that does not stop them from completely ignoring me. I work 2 days a week and my husband works from home so they are always with either one of us. They have friends and have play dates and birthday parties and are always pretty good. My friends say they are polite to them and they seem to be well liked by their friends.

Any advice for a mom that is obviously failing?

Thank you.


gail Hanson's picture
gail Hanson

I think your kids are probably as frustrated with the situation as you are. 


Is the problem obedience, or prompt obedience?  One of the little girls I took care of just took a little while to process the command.  If I just gave her a short time to finish what she was doing--even if it looked to me like she was doing NOTHING, she almost always complied.  My daughter implemented this idea with her little girl by counting out loud, not the threatening 1, 2, 3, WHAM! kind of counting, but just counting, to see how long it took to comply.  Sometimes she'll count for a couple of minutes.  It helps keep the command in the mind of the child, without escalating the emotions.  Usually, her daughter obeys before she gets to 10.


Another question is, do your kids just have too much to do?  I wonder if today's families have enough time for family life to blossom naturally.  It seems like families have about 3 minutes a day of together, non-stressed time.  Even if they eat dinner together, they've got 10 minutes to gobble it down, then clean up and get to the next thing.


proact's picture

Young children feel safer, when they know someone is in charge. Most times parents get sucked into the philosophy that they have to ask kids to do things rather than tell them. I like the instruction, warning and correction model. You give your child instruction, in other words you tell them what to do. If they don't comply you offer one and I repeat one warning. If they fail to comply, you let them know that they were disobedient, but you don't tell them what the consequence is going to be. You wait for them to express the next need or want that they have. You then refuse their request. If they ask why tell them it is because of the way they reacted to your request earlier. Consequences don't have to be immediate, when they are imposed this way they keep us as parents from having a knee jerk reaction. Ask yourself sometime, who is in charge here? You know that you are, let your kids know this also.For a great site go to www.behavioral-management.com

krouth's picture

I have a 3 year old that acts this same way, she has other issues that I would discuss thru email.  If you dont mind.  

krouth's picture

that comment was to MBeth, I'm sorry... 

drktenchi's picture

i am having a similar problem with my 6 year old things are gettingout of hand and every parenting book and class i have read or taken adentifies the problem but i need a coherant solution. i would love any advice

dschalla's picture


I have a 5 year old boy who does not listen. I do beleive he has selective listening. My wife and I have tried rewarding for good behavior and priveledges taken away fro bad behavior but it does not seem to work. We have had him go to sleep cryinbg many nights when he did not listen or did he knew he was not suppose to and got the consequnece of either not playing or TV time taken away, then he is fine for maybe a day or 2 and then he back to same grind what are your suggestions in this case

SnglDad's picture

Selective hearing is a nice way of saying that your child does not respect you enough to give you his undivided attention. I refuse to ask for my children's attention, I demand it. I do not reward for good behavior. Good behavior is to be expected. I do reward when my kids do things that are above and beyond what they are suppose to do., but listening, and doing as they are told, is not grounds for a reward. When you are talking to your child, is he looking at you and listening? When I speak to my children there is no fidgeting, no looking around, and they may talk when I am finished (GASP!!!). If I suspect that they are not listening, I will ask them to repeat what I just said.

As a society we have become too understanding. We have given the power to children to run our lives, and our households. When my oldest son was having problems getting dressed for school on time I started waking him up a half hour earlier. It was amazing to see how fast he could turn his behavior around in order to get that half hour back.. After a week of following through I let him sleep in longer. This is no longer an issue.

The great part is that the guidelines I have set from the beginning are instilled in my kids. Both are top students. Both have received several citizenship awards for being trustworthy and unselfish. Never once have I gotten a call or note saying that they were disruptive in class, or caused any problems. Set a goal as to what you expect from your children, and accept nothing less.