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How to Deal With a Misbehaving Five-Year-Old

by Melissa Willets, studioD

Misbehavior in a 5-year-old is different than a toddler's transgressions. A child this age understands the connection between actions and consequences, notes the KidsHealth website. So if, for instance, your kindergartener kicks his sister, he knows that it will hurt her. The fact that your child understands this can make disciplining him easier than when he was younger.

Explain the rules. To be sure your 5-year-old understands what you expect of her, clearly explain the rules of the house, advises the KidsHealth website. For example, make it clear by saying things like "We don't yell," "We don't hit," and "No dumping water out of the bathtub."

Let your child know what the consequences are. When your child breaks one of the rules of the house, she should understand the consequences. For instance, you might say, "If you say that naughty word again, I will send you to your room for a timeout," or "If you don't share with your brother, I am going to take that toy away," to ensure that she understands the rules and consequences.

Follow through when it comes to enforcing the consequences, advises HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. For example, if you tell your 5-year-old that the next time she slams the bedroom door you are taking away her doll for the rest of the day and she proceeds to slam the door, you shouldn't say, "OK. I'll let it go this time, but next time, I'm going to do it." Instead, show her that you mean business this time and remove the doll from her room. After all, if you do not follow through with consequences, you cannot expect your child to take you seriously and stop misbehaving.

Take away privileges that have an immediate impact on your child. While taking away privileges is an effective way to deal with a misbehaving 5-year-old, long-term consequences have little effect on a child this age, notes the KidsHealth website. For example, if your 5-year-old keeps poking his little sister during dinner, telling him that you will take away his privilege of watching his favorite TV show after dinner will be more effective than telling him that if he doesn't stop, he won't be allowed to ride his bike next weekend.

Reward good behavior. In addition to enforcing consequences when your 5-year-old is naughty, be sure to recognize when she does the right thing. This will help her build self-esteem and help her become more invested in good behavior, according to the AskDrSears website. For example, if your child makes her bed without being asked, say, "Great job!" If she helps a younger sibling get a toy from a high shelf, tell her, "Thanks for being such a great big sister!"

Listen. A 5-year-old can explain her actions and feelings. Perhaps her perceived misbehavior was not intentional. For instance, maybe she wanted to surprise you with a clean room so she blockaded the door, something you asked her not to do. It's important to consider your child's viewpoint, advises the AskDrSears website. This helps her feel like a valuable member of the family. If you discover that your child blockaded her door so she could surprise you with a clean room, recognize that she was doing something good by picking up her toys, but remind her not to block the door next time. Offer another solution such as simply asking you to stay out of the room.

About the Author

Melissa Willets has been writing about parenting, pregnancy and "all things mom" since 2009. She has contributed to many websites, including Pampers.com and WhatToExpect.com.

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