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5yo suddenly acting out at home

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Help! My sweet 5yo dd has undergone a change since starting Kindergarten. She was always very well behaved: even though she is strong-willed, she has never deliberately acted out. At Kindergarten, which she loves, she is fine. But at home, she has started becoming difficult. She interrupts us, either with words or with loud noises. While someone is talking to her, she starts making sounds. She yells and occasionally plays aggressively.

I am guessing this might have something to do with either seeing other kids behaving this way and trying it out (she has done this in the past). Or needing to let out all of her pent-up energy after behaving so well all day (full days of K) and following rules, reacting to bells ringing, lining up, etc. (all of this is new for her). Clearly she feels safe to let it all out at home and I'm glad of that. But she is becoming difficult to handle and I am worrying that we need to give her some firmer behavioral boundaries.

First: what's this really about? I need your wisdom here.

Second: how shall we handle it? So far, we've tried talking to her rationally (when she does not interrupt) and explaining that we understand she is needing to explore these behaviors, but that we have to figure out a way she can do it through play rather than all the time with us. We've tried withdrawing when she interrupts (stopping what we're saying and telling her why we're doing it). We've tried letting her know that we're beginning to get angry and reminding her that everyone gets upset when that happens. But I am really at sea here!

Any advice for us? Thanks.
post #2 of 6
My dd always acts up at the beginning of the school year. The schedule change, new rules, and different behaviors she is exposed to all have an effect and she really pushes the limits. By October she is usually back to her normal self. I tend to just do what I normally do and keep my expectations the same. I do find that I need to focus on sleep and staying calm for myself a lot more because it is a very frustrating time, but I haven't found the need to change what I do as a parent when my child misbehaves, I just do it more frequently for a few weeks.
post #3 of 6
It sounds like your DD is just reacting to the stress of starting school by acting out. Stress often causes acting out or out of control behaviors. Is your DD getting enough sleep now? At 5 kids still need about 10 hours. Are there any activities that calm your DD. When my DD is stressed painting, water play and going for walks help her become more her normal self. Last year when she first started preschool she was really acting out at home. Painting and things like watering plants outside helped a lot. I wouldn't be stricter or add new rules because that could just add to your DDs stress. The behavior will probably go away in a few weeks.

My DD is 5 and we deal with interrupting in a more casual way. Sort of just "hey sweeties, everyone gets to talk" or "wow, you need to tell us stuff huh? Just a minute and we will really listen.". Interrupting can be because of excitement or just a loss of self control. Often we will all go outside and our DD will run around while my DH and I talk.
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks, folks! This is really helpful to know!

She is getting the same amount of sleep, which is definitely enough. And the interrupting is not the kind that all kids do out of excitement. It's deliberate, and usually it's not even to say something. It's just a yell or a noise or babbling.

I really don't want to add to her stress and I do know she is under a lot of it right now, even though she loves school. But we're also sensing that she's pushing boundaries that she's never pushed before, so we feel like we need to show her where the boundaries are. We're not interested in instituting a new regime or anything; we've simply never needed to put these boundaries up before, because she's never tested them before.

I feel so much better knowing that this has happened to other kids. Thank you.
post #5 of 6
DS started school 3 weeks ago or so and has been acting out ever since. I figured that it's stress related but I would sure love to know how to help him through all this and make it easier for him
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
as much as I hate to hear someone else is going through this, it's nice to have even more confirmation that this is normal behavior.

I just read the thread by Jade's mom about "I'm sick of the back-talk" and I found those responses REALLY great. I'm going to try them right away!

Things are getting a *little* better at our house, but it's taken a lot of patience and talking-through of the issue with her. I am still not sure if we're doing things the right way but I do know that she responds MUCH better to humor than to direct reactions to her behavior.

Here's hoping the little ones revert to their old selves soon!
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