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Thread: worried about my 5 year old's behavior

  1. #1

    Default worried about my 5 year old's behavior

    Sigh...I'm here again seeking some input on my 5 year old's behavior. It has really deteriorated over the past month or two and I'm not sure why; she turned 5 at the beginning of June. I will try to keep this as short as possible, because I could probably write a whole book about her and what could possibly be causing her issues, but that would take too long. She has meltdowns at least once a day, sometimes several, often over very ridiculous things. She's started screaming/screeching...and I mean screaming at the top of her lungs screaming, mostly at me it seems if she can't have what she wants or I try to get her stop playing and come eat dinner or brush her teeth, stuff like that. She's gotten very defiant and literally seems to want to be 'the boss' and for every conceivable thing to go her way, and if it doesn't, she gets angry and frustrated. She seems to act her worst whenever I'm around, which makes me feel even worse. And the past few days she's hit me and thrown things a couple times. My mother in law lives with us and watches her during the day while DH and I are at work, and she says she doesn't act like this at all while we're at work, that she starts up after we get home. :-( She just seems to be slowly worsening over time, not improving; although there certainly are days when she seems to do well. She can also be very clingy and needy much of the time. There've been major changes in the past two years in her life, but the only recent change was taking her out of her pre-school for a few weeks since she'll be starting Kindergarten in a few weeks. I don't have much experience with kids, but her outbursts are what I might expect from a 2-3 year old, not a 5 year old; I'm pretty sure this behavior isn't considered normal at 5, is it?

    Her eating is another big thorny issue that worries me...I could write a whole other post on that actually; she's extremely picky and rejects new foods and seems to have traits of selective eating disorder if I had to guess. Which is also very frustrating because I'm sure healthier eating could improve her behavior and emotions, but I have been unsuccessful thus far in changing her eating habits. She started off life a very good eater and now all she wants is carbohydrates, chocolate, and snack foods such as Goldfish. She doesn't even like chicken nuggets anymore; I have never heard of a kid not wanting chicken nuggets, ugh.

    Yesterday I took her for her first appointment with a 'play therapist'... I don't know what to expect from play therapy or whether it will help, but it's what the pediatrician recommended right now.

    I said I wouldn't go into what possible causes are, but I think she does miss me and DH a lot since we both have demanding jobs; and I'm a nurse so I work long hours and my job is really stressful and exhausting; I also have thyroid issues and anxiety/depression issues so sometimes it's hard for me to muster the energy to play and be positive/upbeat around her. And I'm not dealing with her very well anymore; I've started crying in front of her a lot more, mostly after she screams at me, and I know that's not good, but sometimes I can't help it. I feel like I'm relying more and more on my mother in law to take care of her because I don't feel emotionally equipped to handle her when she's acting up :-(

  2. #2


    Could it possibly be that your MIL allows her to do certain things, or act a certain way when you all are not around? That she knows when you and dad get home, she has to do things and act another way than she is normally allowed to act/do? I know for a fact that my kids act differently around me than they do DH. He is more stern and allows them to do less than I do, so when I get home, they're obnoxious, whiny, etc. My twins are five as well and I know the behavior, not quite to the extremity as your situation, but I can definitely relate, some. Hugs, I know this must be really difficult. I hope you find answers soon!
    Julie (Mom of 3)

  3. #3


    First of all,

    I agree with you it does sound more like 3 year old behavior, sounds exactly like how my DD was acting a lot this summer. She was being difficult for me and no one else. I was really busy this summer and she was in daycare a lot more than she is used to, and I suspected it was an attention issue. I was snapping at her, had less patience, etc.

    After we went on a week long trip together with extended family, I feel like we reconnected and things have been much better ever since.

    When I read your last paragraph it really struck me, because it does sound like she's trying to get some quality attention from you. It sounds exactly like what I was going through this summer with my DD.

    Can you have a little get-away or spend a solid weekend as a family together before she goes to kindy? It might help "refill her attachment tank" before she goes off for another big change.

    Hang in there, mama.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009


    It is okay to feel overwhelmed. Most of us have been there at one time or the other. If you have not already done so, I'd recommend (strongly) reading this:

    Have you watched her with MIL, to see what sort of interactions they have, and whether you are aligned in terms of what you do and do not allow her to get away with? I agree that perhaps spending some quality time together, just a mother-daughter "date" on a consistent basis, might be what she needs.

  5. #5


    how well doe she sleep? when my 4 yr old is acting up it is usually because of lack of sleep.
    the eating thing i totally understand, neither of my kids like chicken nuggets. i just offer lots of variety and stopped buying the goldfish type foods and replaced them with better alternatives. for the first few weeks that we didn't have that stuff in the house the kids were upset about it but then they got used to it and started eating better.

    i would talk to you mother-in-law and see what she does different and if she minds watching your dd, she may have an answer to your frustration and not know it.
    my kids both have "mommy itis" they behave well for everyone but me. its like i speak a foreign language and they don't understand a word i say. they don't listen to anything the don't do anything for me. when i talked to the in home daycare gal that used to watch my nieces/nephews she said that it was "mommy itis" and would improve when school started (that was before i told her we were planning on homeschooling)

    i understand how you feel and i hope that things get better for you.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007


    I wonder if it's the time of day you are seeing her (evening/after work?) and the transition from MIL to you and or DH that sparks her behavior. My DD2 is also 5 and she can be 2 totally different kids. She can be great all day and then once her sister gets home from school or DH gets home from work she turns into a beast. She also behaves in a way I think is for a younger child but mine has a baby sister too so sometimes I think she does what she does. Some are similar to what you describe - hitting, screaming (although not at the top of her lungs - my DD3 does that and it's horrible).

    I don't really have answers but I sympathize and think the play therapy is a good place to start. If there have been big changes in her life I am sure that is contributing. I am sure she also wants attention from you. Maybe you can do a "date night" once a week and just go eat pizza together or something? I know it's easier said than done and it may not solve the problem. I know the feeling of not wanting to spend time with a child who is acting that way

    I would also recommend not reacting wildly to her behavior and just have a very calm and consistent way you handle it - time out, consequence jar, whatever method you use just be consistent with it.

    Thing 1 (8), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

  7. #7


    Thanks :-) Yes I do think she needs more one on one attention from me, I think spending some one on one Mommy-daughter time is what she needs. I just get so distracted and stressed from life demands such as work and cooking that I neglect to think about things like that sometimes. She was better today, no screaming or hitting today thank goodness. I took her and one-year old DS to Walmart today to buy groceries and buy him some new shoes and I think she liked that...she likes shoes and shopping. She liked the play therapy a lot too. I will talk to my MIL about how she handles her during the day too.

  8. #8


    Read some about sensory integration issues and see if that fits? If so, try to find her a good pediatric OT (which can be tricky, if you want to PM me where you are I can see what I can find as I know some ped OT people...)
    Hang in there, tomorrow is a new phase...

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