Why Is My 5 Year Old a Mean Girl?

Question

Our 5-year-old daughter has been acting aggressively towards others (classmates in school AND her 7-year-old brother) when either she doesn't like what they do or they won't let her do whatever she wants. Nothing is done at school, so I'm sure there is a disconnect when she gets disciplined at home but not at school. Here are some examples: At school, a little girl wasn't getting off the swing after our daughter asked to get on so she pushed her off. At a restaurant, she was making fun of a girl with glasses. At home, she didn't like what her brother was doing so she either hits, pinches, or spits. As parents, we remain calm and take away tickets (even for school offenses). We have caught her smiling as we've spoken with her about this (creeps us out). I feel that I need to be harsher. We are placing her in a small christian school in the fall that will not tolerate this and will immediately expel her. So of course I want to nip this in the bud.

Answer

This sounds like a respect for authority issue or, in your daughter’s case, no respect for authority. Start with focusing on your own worldview of parenting. The “Well Behaved Child” offers a great foundational view for you to consider. If your daughter does not have any memorable experience of a consequence that she can resource when she spits, hits, pinches, or makes fun of others then this partially explains why she continues with her antics. The other factor to take into consideration is that consequences are not magical solutions that produce instant attitude change. It may take time for her to truly believe that the authority figures in the home (parents) have changed their world view about tolerating her egregious actions. Daughter certainly knows how to make faces red when she smiles at you as you become frustrated, yell, or otherwise react emotionally. I suggest you work on becoming a first responder and not a first reactor. Figure out what your authority voice should sound like. Use the mirror to practice your authority face and most important, be consistent with the consequences you administer. If you need help with any of these processes, reach out to any of the parent coaches who have been trained by John Rosemond and we can help.

Gretchen Slover
drgretchenslover.com

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