Behaviour: 5 year old sees me as a peer

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  • #46925 Report


    Hi fellow parents!
    Been lurking for a while, but this is my first post. I’m mum to a 5yo girl, she lives with me full time and sees her dad usually once a fortnight.

    She is very short tempered and stubborn (like both her parents). I’ve been struggling with her behaviour for a while (not helped by her dad who does anything she asks and refuses to cooperate with me on a consistent parenting approach); but recently it has dawned on my that she sees me as an equal or a peer. Whilst this is lovely, it seems to remove all my ability to direct (or punish) her.

    If I ask/tell her to do something, she seems to think she is equally entitled to tell me to do things too – for example I’ll say “If you get dressed for school, you can play dolls after” she’ll reply “if you play dolls with me first, I’ll get dressed after”. It’s not negotiating though, it’s demanding. And I have previously tried Gentle Parenting and removing demands, but it doesn’t result in anything being done either.

    As for punishments, I have tried everything and she throws it back at me. Naughty Step never worked. Quarantining toys until the behaviour improves only resulted in her taking away my things (purse, car keys etc) when I had done something she didn’t like. My mum thinks I should smack her, but I can see exactly where that would lead.

    It definitely works to enlist her help, and give her responsibility, but this isn’t appropriate all the time. Sometimes we just need to do things quickly and in the way they have to be done. e.g. If I ask her to get her own breakfast, she will – but she’ll probably make one for me first, and it will be elaborate, and she’ll have run out of steam before she gets hers or eats it. Being honest, I’m too short of time to “play” my way out of everything.

    Does anyone have a similar relationship with their young child? How do you make it work?

    #46928 Report


    hello rachael,

    been there. don’t take it wrong but the key things are stubbornness ( both parents ), things have to be done( my way ) and negotiate. I learned this the hard way myself. We lead by example and the children imitate our behaviour. Our point of view we transmit is, we know best and that is why it has to be done our way. No time for discussions. We assert an authority, which unfortunately the children don’t always see, as we don’t reason with them and don’t actually lead by the example, we want them to follow. The Point being, if there are moments when time is not of the essence, we need to negotiate with them and show our willingness to compromise on things of importance to them. It comes down to trust. The picture we have of ourselves needs to be in line with what the child experiences. Otherwise, they will be confused and  do not have clear guidance. Youngest one was the one who called the shots in the family for years and it was a painful process to reverse. We had play therapies for him and sports and team experiences helped a lot. But the key was changing my own behaviour towards him in a manner that made transparent, when decisions were important and when there was room for manoeuvring. His mother didn’t change but one parent being able to was enough. So it doesn’t help if the other parent doesn’t play ball but it doesn’t make change impossible.

    #46932 Report


    Thanks for taking the time to reply, you’ve given me some food for thought 🙂

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