“It started out with my daughter yelling ‘NO’ whenever she didn’t get her way when she was a toddler. Then when she got into elementary school, she started throwing things and slamming doors any time she didn’t get what she wanted. I thought it was just a phase. Over time, it got to a point where I was walking on eggshells — you never knew when she was going to have a fit because she wasn’t happy. And it kept getting worse. Now that she’s in middle school, she’s throwing things at me, cursing at us and destroying stuff in our house. It’s like being in a landslide — and she’s defying me about almost everything.”

Before you had kids, you probably expected your child to misbehave at times. Acting out behavior is nothing new, after all––you probably didn’t follow all of your parent’s rules growing up, yourself. You saw friends – and even strangers – parenting kids who had tantrums in stores or restaurants and it all seemed pretty typical. Children test limits and parents respond with consequences. That’s the way life goes. It comes with the territory of having kids. What you probably didn’t expect, though, was that someday — despite your best parenting efforts — your child would not only refuse to respond to your discipline, but the behavior would actually worsen over time.

Offer for FREE Empowering Parents Personal Parenting Plan

When Parenting Feels Like a Nightmare

When a child starts exhibiting behavior problems, parents will try anything they can think of to get a handle on the situation: consequences for negative behavior; rewards for positive behavior; behavior charts; talking about the behavior; talking about how to change the behavior; ignoring the behavior in the hope it will stop if you don’t give it attention; talking about positive ways your child can get your attention. If we can name it, you’ve probably tried it. When a child’s behavior continues to escalate in the face of every discipline technique you can think of, it’s terrifying. Kim Abraham has raised an Oppositional–Defiant child and knows the utter sadness, hurt and frustration that comes from parenting a child who fights against rules and limits. You start to question yourself, your ability to parent effectively, and what’s worse, oftentimes others (teachers, family members, neighbors) start to point the finger of blame at you, too! Fear that you’re failing as a parent can turn to guilt, shame and desperation.

If your child’s behavior has continued to escalate, quickly or over time, take heart. Here are a few tips that can help:

1. Rule Out Other Factors

If your child’s behavior continues to escalate despite all your best efforts, you may want to see a professional to rule out other factors. Some children have undetected medical issues such as allergies (food or otherwise) that can truly impact their behavior. Other children who are chronically defiant, constantly breaking rules or having trouble handling frustration may be experiencing ADHD, Asperger’s Disorder, anxiety or depression. If any of these situations are occurring, getting your child the proper help can help him manage his emotions – and behavior – more effectively.

Advertisement for Empowering Parents Total Transformation Online Package

There are many reasons a child’s behavior can escalate. It may be that he is becoming increasingly frustrated and simply doesn’t know how to express it. You might also find, after thinking it over, that your own reaction to your child is contributing to the intensity of his behavior. Are you easily irritated by your child, and if so, how do you respond? Dealing with a child’s negative behavior can leave a parent feeling whipped; you may not realize the role your own behavior is playing in the interactions. Even your tone of voice or the expression on your face can affect your child.

2. Walking Away Doesn’t Mean You’re Giving Up

It’s easy to get drawn into control battles with a child who argues about everything. There’s often a cycle that goes something like this: Your child wants something or experiences an intense negative emotion. You tell her “no” or set a limit. She tries to get you to change your mind. You stick to your guns. She gets more upset; her emotions and behavior escalate. Your emotions escalate. She tries to get her way. You try to get her to understand your point of view and why the answer is “No.” Things continue to escalate to yelling, swearing or even getting physical.

During a conflict, kids sometimes go into “fight or flight” mode: they get upset, there’s a rush of adrenaline and they don’t know how to release that energy. The longer the conflict continues, the more their adrenaline pumps them up. Ending the argument by walking away shows your child he doesn’t have to stay in fight–or–flight mode. You can offer him suggestions on how he can get rid of that energy in a more acceptable way than yelling or throwing things. This can help keep things from hitting the point where they continue to escalate.

Remember, your child doesn’t have to understand why you’re setting a limit. In the old days, parents never spent a lot of time explaining to a child why they were setting a limit. They might give it a sentence or two, but then that–was–that. Discussion over. Over the years, parents have fallen into the trap of talking to our kids too much. We talk about everything, and we want our kids to be okay with our decisions. The fact is, sometimes they’re not going to be happy about a limit or a consequence and that’s okay. That’s part of learning and growing up and that’s life. You can validate for your child that it’s hard to accept things she doesn’t agree with, and that she may be really upset, disappointed or angry. But don’t fall into the trap of believing you need to justify yourself – or your decisions – to your child and then stand there until she’s okay with it. If you do, you may be standing there a very long time—ripe for getting further drawn into the power struggle!

3. Accept Your Child

Everyone has their own unique temperament (or disposition) and kids are no different. Some kids tend to be cooperative while some seem to argue about everything. Some are easygoing while others have a low frustration tolerance and are quick to anger. There are kids who are quiet and shy, and those who want to be heard….every moment of every day! With Oppositional –Defiance, it can be hard to accept a child’s basic personality. You could spend years trying to change your child into someone else, but the bottom line is: this is your child, right now, in this moment. Accepting your child doesn’t mean you accept his behavior or agree with all of his choices. It does mean that you accept him at a basic level of being human– with his own feelings, flaws and struggles.

4. Continue to Set Limits and Follow Through With Consequences…Even Though It’s Hard

It’s not easy to stand firm in the face of a tornado of emotion your child unleashes on you. It can seem easier to give in and sometimes it is…in the short run. But in the long run, if you can hang in there and remain consistent, your child will come to know that arguing, throwing things and getting physical won’t change your mind or your house rules. Because it can be so draining — emotionally — to follow through with consequences, you may want to target the most serious behaviors you’re seeing with your child first and then work your way down the list. Don’t give a consequence if you know you’re likely to give in. Go with a shorter consequence or response you know you’ll be able to stick to, until you’re feeling stronger.

5. Think of Parenting as a Marathon…Not a Sprint

Parenting is for a lifetime. There’s no specific moment where you think, “Well, this is it. My job as a parent is done.” When you’re 50 and your child is an adult, he’ll still be your son. And you’ll still be parenting him (though hopefully in a different way). Your relationship may look different, but it’s still parent and child. Your goal is to help your child understand the world, how to live in it and what he can expect from others when he behaves in a certain way. Your home is the first place he will learn limits and rules that exist in our society. Parenting means being in it for the long–haul. Believe it or not, when you continue to consistently provide limits and consequences for your child, over the years he will learn what to expect from you — and from society.

It can be very frightening and frustrating when a child’s behavior continues to escalate. Sometimes we — as parents — go into fight–or–flight mode ourselves, reacting out of emotion rather than remaining calm and providing consistent consequences and limits. Your child has the ultimate control over his behavior and choices. As a parent, you can provide discipline, love and guidance. You can support your child by offering positive alternatives to dealing with frustration and you can model those same techniques in the way you respond to your child’s behavior. Remember to take care of your own emotional wellbeing during these times, as well — get support from friends, this website, other parents or even a professional if you find your strength is suffering in the face of your child’s behavior. Parenting takes determination, pacing oneself and keeping an eye on the long–term goal. Remember, you are not alone in this marathon!

Related Content:
Your Defiant Child’s Behavior: What You Can—and Can’t—Control as a Parent

Empowering Parents Podcast:
Apple, Spotify

About and

Kimberly Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner are the co-creators of The ODD Lifeline® for parents of Oppositional, Defiant kids, and Life Over the Influence™, a program that helps families struggling with substance abuse issues (both programs are included in The Total Transformation® Online Package). Kimberly Abraham, LMSW, has worked with children and families for more than 25 years. She specializes in working with teens with behavioral disorders, and has also raised a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Marney Studaker-Cordner, LMSW, is the mother of four and has been a therapist for 15 years. She works with children and families and has in-depth training in the area of substance abuse. Kim and Marney are also the co-creators of their first children's book, Daisy: The True Story of an Amazing 3-Legged Chinchilla, which teaches the value of embracing differences and was the winner of the 2014 National Indie Excellence Children's Storybook Cover Design Award.

Comments (85)
  • Linda
    We originally thought my 5 yr old granddaughter had autism,turns out she doesn't.Her behavior is caused by her anxiety they said.So how do we address that issue.I babysit 5-6 days a week and she does not listen to a thing I say.She takes fits, screams, hits,cusses,throws things, break things,hits herself,butMore they said she's not autistic? She went to pre school and all her teachers said she was a perfect little angel.They couldn't believe what we told them.Now I'm loss even more, what can I do?
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out to Empowering Parents. Young children often lack frustration tolerance and effective problem solving skills for managing that frustration. The acting out behavior you're seeing is possibly a reflection of this. We have several articles that offer tips and techniques for managing this sort of behavior in younger children. You can find those here: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/ages-and-stages/younger-children/

      We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community and wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.

  • Linda C
    My 9 year old had always been a demanding and difficult child. Unlike others, he is perfect I mean perfect in school. At home he is constantly dysregulated, arguing and refusing to do the simplest of tasks. He has destroyed property and hit me twice. The past 6 months thingsMore have greatly escalated. He is in therapy and we are using an earning system where he has to earn everything outside of basic needs. He must earn tv time, video games, riding his bike etc. thus far he has fought and argued and tries to change the program. Is this earning system effective for children with odd
  • Tammara
    Hello. My 5 year old son started kindergarten this year the day before his 5th birthday. In the beginning he did okay, had some days where he struggled, but that was to be expected because thanks to Covid he didn’t get a chance to go to Pre-k before starting kindergartenMore and going to pre-k as a 5 year old was going to cost way too much. Anyways, the last month or so I have been getting calls or notes sent home about his behavior in class. Not listening, very disobedient, argumentative, etc. well this last week and half I have gotten multiple calls saying that he has had to be taken to the office multiple times a day because he is being disruptive in class, telling his teacher No, running around the classroom, hiding under desks, refusing to do his work. He even put his chrome book in his backpack and was throwing it down on the floor, and also hit a classmate with his backpack. When the teachers come to get him and take him to the office he will run away from them or refuse to walk to where they have to carry him. I just don’t understand it. He had gotten sent home early the last couple days because who’s behavior is so out of hand. I don’t know what to do. I am so stressed, upset and frustrated by his behavior.
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out. I can understand your distress. Many parents struggle with knowing how to respond to and address behaviors that happen in school. Dr. Joan Simeo Munson wrote an excellent article that focuses on younger kids that you may find helpful: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/young-kids-acting-out-in-school-the-top-3-issues-parents-worry-about-most/.

      We appreciate you reaching out and wish you the best of luck moving forward. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • Ginac
    My 14 yo son has become a nightmare over the course of the last 3 months. He has ADHD and anxiety which had been managed well. He began high school at a new school this year. Although the pandemic and resulting social isolation have not helped he had been managing.More He has recently just become extremely defiant to all adult authority figures. He went from an A student first quarter to failing this past quarter refusing to do assignments or homework, refusing to spend tine with the family or eat meals with us, cursing and yelling all the time, not sleeping. Angry at us for setting limits and restrictions on cell phone and internet use. He has this mindset that he will continue until he gets his way. He refuses to respect me and I am at my wits end! I can’t take anymore! He has never been like this! It’s negatively impacting my younger son and the house us always in turm oil and arguing. He is seeing a therapist but doesn’t want to follow the suggestions ( ie taking melatonin to help sleep) he keeps saying he’s just going to fight it. I don’t know what to do or how much longer I can sustain this. Please help
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      I am so sorry you are facing these challenges with your son. I can understand why you reached out for help and support. We have several articles that address this topic that can be found here: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/outbursts-temper-tantrums/

      We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going.

  • Sandy

    Hello ,

    I will start off by saying I really enjoyed reading this because this is what I’m going thru with my 5 year old now.

    I started noticing weird odd behaviours when he was two ( punching the dog spitting throwing things and laughing at hurting others ) but I didn’t make much of it. He stopped for time being.

    I sent him to daycare and was receiving complains but again I stood strongly by my son. I would get calls from daycare to get him because he was either misbehaving or hysterical. I would go get him and rarely punished because I always thought it was too late to punish him after the facts. We moved he went to daycare and got called in to school by director who suggested we evaluate the kid for Asperger or adhd. We didn’t do it, my husband got upset at the director because the kid my son was getting in trouble with was in fact her daughter. He turned three and same story calls from school that he’s running away not paying attention is disruptive to the classmates etc. I did see running away part as huge issue and decided to speak to his paediatrician about evaluation which she thought it was rubbish but gave me referrals (6 months later). We changed schools again and within a month I received 4 notes ( doesn’t listen doesn’t pay attention, grabbed scissors and tried to

    Cut some girls hair the list goes on). Then corona stroke and he was out of school for months. He did play with other kids and he would punch them in the face, kick, or somehow hurt. He does the same to my husband. One time he put his fingers and pushed it into his eyes (looked painful), other time punched him and slapped him, kick him notoriously etc. We moved to other city where school were open even during pandemics and enrolled him in one. It seemed to be going ok but he was acting up at home so I had talk with his teacher about behavioural issues but she said it was noticeable but controllable. Past month I have been Terrorised at my own home. He is sweet as can be until He isn’t. He gets energy out of nowhere starts running away slams the door, throws things at me (phone, jars with gummy bears, shampoo bottle, clothes on the floor etc) he also punches the dogs and sometimes seems to me he’s trying to suffocate them. (Yorkies).

    Today I was called in to get him from school because he threw chairs and got frustrated etc. I got him out but again I don’t know how to punish him for that after the fact. We had a talk and he always says “ I don’t know why I did that”

    Should I have him evaluated ? He is the only child and spoiled to the bone but we don’t throw things at home, we are animal lovers not abusers and we definitely don’t use violence so I have no clue where he may be getting those odd reactions from. His biological dad was aggressive and impulsive like that and always had difficulties accepting authority but he is not and won’t be in the picture and my husband has been raising him since he was 1,5 so and he is a family attorney so he knows how to treat kids. Is it possible that genetics are taking part in those behavioural issues ? I am honestly exhausted of complains and constant issues at school. He is very intelligent and very witty but he just loses it and wonders around the classroom and sometimes gets destructive.

    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      If you believe there may be an underlying issue affecting your son's behavior, then having him evaluated might be a good idea. A good first step in the process is making an appointment with his pediatrician. Your son's doctor would be in the best position to help you decide if further evaluation is necessary and would be able to make a referral to a qualified mental health professional who would be able to do further assessments.

      We appreciate you reaching out and wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.

  • Alli
    My defiant 4 year old son’s behavior has been escalating into vulgar sexual gestures with his private parts lately. Whenever I set a limit on his screentime or don’t allow him to purchase a new game on his iPad he yells that he hates me...and then he either grabs hisMore penis and shakes it at me or bends over and spreads his buttcheeks at me. He’s only 4 years old l, and I can’t think of anywhere where he would have seen behavior like this. Usually I set a limit and provide a constructive fun alternative like riding our bikes to the park; I don’t know why I’m being met with such opposition and why it’s coming out in this vulgar way instead of a more normal response. This doesn’t seem like your run of the mill normal defiant behavior of a 4 year old; should I be seeking out therapy for him?
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Hi, Allison. Your son may be doing these responses because he gets a reaction from you. With that said, if you feel there may be something else going on, I would make an appointment with his pediatrician. His doctor would be able to determine of further evaluation or assessment is needed.

      We appreciate you reaching out. Take care.

  • Sharon
    What do you do when your 7 year old grandson screams at you and calls you a mother fuc-er? Or he refuses to go to school? It’s a CONSTANT fight that’s getting worse.
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      Hi, Sharon. I can understand how distressing this must be for you. We have several articles that offer tips for managing this type of behavior: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/outbursts-temper-tantrums/. Thank you for reaching out. Take care.
  • nkiri2975
    My son will be 5 in a few weeks and started VPK a little over a month ago. He has had issues with transitioning to a new class in the past so I acknowledge that we are probably dealing with some of this right now; however, his reaction toMore things have escalated. He gets very upset and starts throwing and kicking things. We try talking to him about the fact that it is okay to be upset, everyone gets upset sometimes, but the problem is how he is reacting. He is also not listening. In my opinion he does not have a learning disability -- he's super smart and picks up new concepts quickly. If anything, I suspect that he is bored because he's not being challenged enough. I want help for my child and us as parents but I worry that if I take him to a therapist that they will want to put him on medication. I also mentioned it to my pediatrician and the only suggestion that she had was to increase his physical activity. Do you have any other suggestions/recommendations?
  • kristin gregory
    mom of 17 year old boy. its been a struggle for 3 years. he has anger, depression....it seems like ODD but i dont know. been to counseling, assessments, tried medicine. he keeps wanting to leave our home and stay somewhere else. i am losing myMore mind and hope. He is creating chaos for all of us in our home. I am really struggling and sick from this. I dont know how to deal with it. Let him go, actually i dont let him go but he leaves anyhow. thank you for your help, I am so sad and have to pick myself up for everyone and everything else in my life.
  • MotherLion15
    I have a 6 year old daughter from a previous relationship. I am currently married to my second daughter's father. With my oldest, I had raised her basically since she was a baby by myself. Her father didn't want the responsibility of being in a family anymore so I tookMore care of her by myself. He is a part time father is you understand what I mean. With very little money from him to support her we stayed with family (not immediate) in which we experienced that there was hostility among the family. Had I known how aggressive the tension was I would have never stayed. My oldest was always a happy child. We did things just us to escape the madness even if it was to the park. This always made her, US happy. Eventually, I got approved for an apartment of my own. However, my boyfriend wanted me to move with him instead. Before I could make the decision on where to move, a relative we stayed with decided to kick us out when she became upset that my relationship with my boyfriend(now husband) at the time was becoming very serious. Even after I did move in with him, she tried to team up against me with my daughter's father out of spite. After the move my daughter started to show agression in school, but never at home. I learned that moment was because she was upset from the hostility experienced with our own family, as well as she wasn't used to sharing me so often with somebody else. Then, after awhile of hanging with my then boyfriend's immature 20 something year old sisters I noticed her attitude change towards me. She was becoming defiant, loud, and showing sass to me. I would cry to my mother that I failed because I would not react well to it. I would even notify him that his sisters are influencing such behavior on my daughter, and I can't have my child around that. At first he was blind to it, and we then would argue. After some time the tension became worse with us as we would argue in front of my daughter as well as his daughter from a previous relationship. I would tell him I'm leaving and that I can't have this around my daughter because I fear the worst. Finally he noticed what I was talking about, and made the choice to stand by my side and defend me. However, the sisters didn't care and continued as well as show me no respect by still telling my daughter her "mother is an idiot". Sometimes even including a curse word and then a laugh after. They would even do it in my presence, and I would just look over to my husband and he would say something. They would constantly disrespect me and do whatever they want with my daughter like cut her hair or take her places WITHOUT ever asking me. My daughter even taught they were cool because how they acted different from me(a mother who wants the best for her child). Mind you there are more than 2 sisters he has! His mother wouldn't do anything either as she wasn't even respected by her own daughters. Still I would never speak up because I was raised to not disrespect someone in their household as we always went to his mother's who always had his siblings there. Now, I don't even go around my in laws because I've noticed what triggered my daughter's behavior to down spiral was not just the tension at home (which we fixed, but still was hard on her), but also the ridiculous mess his what's suppose to be mature 20 year old sisters have taught my daughter as well as she was still affected by what happened with our own family. I also don't go around to make sure my marriage isn't destroyed. Now that we have our youngest I want to make sure it doesn't happen with her. Still it's a struggle with my oldest daughter, but I'm not giving up to make sure she's never influenced like that again especially from those witches!
    • Bobbi
      I have 15yr old daughter, she's been diagnosed w adhd, odd, autism (very low spectrum) & bipolar & she just started school Back up!! It's always been really bad but the past few wks she has been horrible!!! She refuses to go to school & if she does she'll justMore walk out and come home, I ground her from the laptop & other things & all hell breaks loose she'll attack me , break things in my home, calls me the most horrible names as some of u can image!! Last wk she pulled a knife on herself, she walked out of school & when she got home I wouldn't give her her laptop so because she wasn't getting her own way she grabbed a knife!! I called the police they took her to the hospital & the hospital just sent her back home w me!! This wk I've called cys twice begging for help & I get none, they basically told me to deal w it! Idk what to do anymore?? I feel like such a failure & I'm so afraid my daughter is gonna hurt me or my son one of these days, she already hits me.. I've asked for help & nobody will help!! What do I do??
      • Christina


        I will tell you I understand the feeling at a loss. I have a 15 year old daughter who has PTSD2, DMDD, ADHD, Major Depression, Binge Eating Disorder, as well as Bipolarism-2. Nothing in my repertoire has prepared me to deal with her issues. I have had plenty of training as well as experience with kids. I have had MAPP classes(foster parent training), have a degree in childhood development, had 27 children as a foster parent in 4 years and I have work in the classroom since 2004.

        My daughter has choked, punched, slapped myself, my other child and my fiance. Two weeks ago she splintered her sister's door frame. She has punched a 3ft by 3 ft hole through the wall. She curses and berates us on a regular basis. She has had therapy for 10 years off and on, has had medication management for over five years. Things have not always been this way. I would say that in the last 5 years I have had an increasingly difficult time reaching her. She completely shuts down and is constantly trying to engage in a power struggle with me. I have asked for help from police, psychologists, psychiatrists and even DCF. The police I have found for the most part seem to believe that it is a "home" problem. I know that in fact is not true. I have been consistent in my rules, expectations, consequences both positive and negative. I have not gotten any guidance from therapists in dealing with her behavior in relation to her mental health issues. I have asked an infinite amount of times about information and resources for those answers to no avail

        I will tell you in my experience with my daughter therapy and medicine have helped, not solved her issues, but helped her be more receptive to therapy. Each child is different and you know your child, what is best for them. We have come to a point where we are in the process of getting a second placement for her in residential treatment. Do not stop reaching out for help! For your entire family! Know your strengths.

        I joined the National Association for Mental Health and found it helpful to know I am not alone. They offer education and support for caretakers and those individuals dealing with these issues. This is just my own experience. Don't give up, take any lull in the storm while you can and self care is imperative! My mother always told me you have to fill your own cup up first in order to fill another's.

      • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent CoachEP Coach
        I’m so sorry to hear about the violent and defiant behavior you are experiencing with your daughter right now, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for support, both here and in your community. Although I understand that the response from those in your community, such as theMore police and the hospital, has not been what you might have hoped for, I encourage you to continue to work with these resources to help keep you and your son safe from harm. As Kim and Marney point out in another article, Signs of Parental Abuse: What to Do When Your Child or Teen Hits You, developing a safety plan is extremely important when your child is becoming violent toward you or others. In addition, having support in place, whether it’s informal supports such as friends and family, or more structured supports such as parenting groups or a counselor, can be extremely beneficial in these situations. For more information about available supports in your area, try contacting the 211 Helpline at 1-800-273-6222 or by visiting their website, www.211.org I recognize how difficult this must be for you right now, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward. Take care.
  • Jorie Chaffee
    I am really struggling with my daughter. She will be 13 in April. I feel like I have lost control. I had surgery on my ankle in December and I can not put weight on it. I am home all of the time , but I can't doMore any of the things I need to around the house. My mother is living with us to help me , but my daughter is terrible about the whole thing. She complained before that I was never home because usually I work about 60 hours per week. Now she mad because I can't do anything. She won't talk to me about anythin, her period started and she nevereven told me tthat and she will not talk about it. She is escalating with anger and is physically trying to overpower me. I see myself losing patience. I don't know what to do.
  • ARYrm
    My son is a 5 year old, he just started pre-k program 2 days ago and yesterday as a second day, someone called me from the principals office to let me know I need to go and get him early because he was having some issues with behavior, well theMore problem was he was running all over the place and he started throwing some materials everywhere, he got out of the classroom twice and he was totally out of control, when I got there I was no even listening to me touching everything and he won't stop, I had this problem with him before going to the day care, when I talked to him he said I doesn't like school and he just want to play, this morning I left him and he was crying so bad and holding my leg begging me " please don't leave I don't like here" I feel sad and frustrated I don't have idea what's going on I don't know what to do, he listens to us (parents) when he is home but once he is out of the house is like there is no way to control him, please I need to know what can I do I'm so desperate.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      It can be so challenging and embarrassing when a child is acting out at school, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for support. It’s not uncommon for young children to have difficulty focusing for long periods during the school day, and I encourage you to workMore together with your son’s teachers to develop a plan to help him follow the classroom rules, and hold him accountable for his choices at school. Because your son is able to follow the rules at home, it could also be useful to talk with him during a calm time about how he can follow the rules at school. It can be helpful to focus on specific strategies he can use when he wants to play instead of following the rules of the classroom. You might even play “school” with him, so he can have a chance to practice these more appropriate behaviors in a low pressure environment. You might find additional tips in our article Young Kids Acting Out in School: The Top 3 Issues Parents Worry About Most Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
  • Bstevens777
    Well my son is 6 years old and me and his teacher think there's something more going on. He will not listen to me at home he has to be repeatedly told to do something. He's hitting pushing And and being very handsy with other kids. He is very mouthyMore and never wants to listen. It has to be his way or no way and momma and daddy have tried to discipline him many different ways and nothing seems to work. At school they can't get him to focus and slow down to understand what he is being told to do. I just wish he could keep him hands and stuff to himself and just listen. Please if anyone has any advice please let me know.
    • Jennifera2
      That is my little guy too my heart is a bit broken right now he was very mean to me aftetschoil today as well
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Bstevens777 It can be so difficult when your young child is constantly acting out with aggression at home and at school, as well as not listening.  As challenging as behavior like this can be, it’s also pretty normal for kids this age to test boundaries and act out aggressively.  IfMore you believe, however, that there might be something else going on, it can be useful to talk with your son’s doctor about your concerns.  Because his doctor has the benefit of directly observing and interacting with your son, s/he will be in a better position to assess what might be going on, as well as confirm or rule out any underlying issues which might be contributing to this behavior.  I recognize how challenging this must be for you, and i wish you all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • JimJackson3
    We have a 7 yr old boy and a 4 yr old girl. Our boy throws fits about wearing pants for school. He has finally gotten to the level of calling mom and Dad names, hitting us. He is also very jealous of his little sister...like youMore can't like blue because its a boy color, and he will take get in her face, pull hair, and even lately hit her. We tried charts, whatever,...He does quite well in school, with little behavior issues. My wife is a yeller, but I am not. Although lately, I am so mad at him I have become a yeller. I understand that amping up the situation doesn't work, but what else can we do? By the way, he has been tested by a Neuro psychologist, and no ADHD or autism etc, and 117 IQ. We are seeing a psychologist in 2 weeks for this, but would appreciate any input.
    • Jennifera2
      Sounds very similar to my little we've had one yes to autism, one to cognitive delay and one no to autism. It's heartbreaking, trying to figure out what to try next.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      JimJackson3 I’m so sorry to hear about the escalating behavior you are witnessing with your son right now, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for support, both here and in your community.  Sometimes, working with someone locally who has the benefit of being able to directly observe andMore interact with you and your family can be very useful in addressing child behavior problems.  In the meantime, I encourage you to https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/losing-your-temper-with-your-child-8-steps-to-help-you-stay-in-control/, even in the face of your son’s inappropriate behavior, and to limit the amount of time your son is spending unsupervised with his younger sister to keep her safe.  You might also start working with your son on developing more appropriate coping skills, as outlined in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/stop-aggressive-behavior-in-kids-and-tweens-is-your-child-screaming-pushing-and-hitting/  Please be sure to check back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • GlC123
    Hello my daughter is 3 this week, she is very bright and happy usually but since her 8 week old sister came along she is out of control. I understand it's hard, especially when it has been all about her but I don't know how to stop her bad behaviour.More We still give her lots of attention and do things with her alone but still she acts up. She won't listen when she has been naughty, she will try to hit her sister, she shouts and cries very loud. Iv tried picking battles wisely, naughty step, taking her dummy, shouting which I don't like but it's the one thing that gets her attention. Even little things like tipping her milk on the floor leads to a scene. I don't know what I can do to prevent her behaving in these ways iv spoke to her about how special she is and this behaviour is not good. I try to use positive words rather than negative. I would really appreciate some advice.Thanks
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      GlC123 Congratulations on your new baby!  It’s not uncommon for young children to act out this way when a new sibling comes along.  After all, the arrival of a new family member can bring up a range of strong emotions such as excitement, frustration, resentment and jealousy.  Young children tendMore to act out inappropriately as a way to cope with strong emotions, because they tend to lack more appropriate coping skills, as well as a tendency for poor self-control.  Being consistent in your rules and providing positive feedback when she is behaving appropriately are both going to be helpful in turning this around.  You might find additional helpful techniques in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/attention-seeking-behavior-in-young-children-dos-and-donts-for-parents/.  Please be sure to check back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • Paulabali
    My 2 year old has spent her days shouting, and screaming demands for over the last 6 months. She can be really pleasant and happy when it suits, but throws tantrums every time she doesn't get her way. She has two older brothers who are soft and kind who neverMore displayed this type of behaviour. She loves them dearly but just can't help moaning and groaning / shouting for her own way she's not good at sharing, when anyone try's to tell her to stop doing something or tell her off she begins to scream and throws a tantrum to not allow the person give out.. advice would be great. She's at home all day and will start day care soon thanks!
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Paulabali I hear you.  It can be so frustrating and draining when you have a young child who is constantly screaming and demanding to get her own way.  It’s actually pretty normal for kids your daughter’s age to have difficulty sharing and to have tantrums due to where they areMore in their development.  This is because they tend to have a low tolerance for frustration, poor impulse control, low empathy and few appropriate coping skills to use.  This doesn’t mean that you cannot address this behavior, however.  Dr. Joan Simeo Munson outlines some useful tips you might try in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-discipline-young-kids-effectively-4-steps-every-parent-can-take/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/defiant-young-children-and-toddlers-5-things-not-to-do/.  I recognize how challenging this must be for you and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • Texasdoubled
    Me and my husband are raising our 7 yr old granddaughter. We've had her since she was 1. She sees both parents regularly and knows exactly why she loves with us and she's perfectly happy about it. She can be so sweet and nice until she doesn't get her way.More Then she's a monster! She wants to yell, call names, kick and hit things, hurt the pets, spit, etc etc.... She won't follow directions at home or school and spends more time in in school suspension than in class. I've punished, spanked, with held things, took things away, no TV and everything else I can try to do... I've talked until I'm out of breath! She's driving us insane and we don't know what the problem is. Ssh e can go from good to demon in the flip,of a switch... Any ideas??? We need help!
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Texasdoubled I hear you.  It can be so difficult when a child seems to go from sweet to defiant in a matter of moments.  It’s actually pretty common for kids your granddaughter’s age to act out in this way when they are told no, or do not get their way.More  This is because they tend to have a low tolerance for frustration, poor impulse control and few appropriate coping skills.  This doesn’t mean that you cannot change this response, however.  It could be useful to work with her during a calm time about specific actions she can take when she becomes frustrated, disappointed, angry or upset, as described in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/hitting-biting-and-kicking-how-to-stop-aggressive-behavior-in-young-children/.  You might also consider using a https://www.empoweringparents.com/free-downloadable-charts/ to reward her progress on using these new skills.  Please be sure to check back and let us know how things are going with you and your granddaughter.  Take care.
  • JSB151
    I have 2 sons, age 8 & 6. While my 8 year old had issues in Kindergarten he grew out of them and is doing great. However my 6 year had a bad year of kindergarten and is doing bad in 1st grade. He is excelling academically which is theMore hardest part for me to understand. He loves to learn but then will hit another kid, get mad and hide under a desk, things like that. This year in school it's just been a rollercoaster, a good day then a bad day. I do not know what to do. When I talk to him he fully understands and it just seems like he will not do it again and then bam something else happens. I have thought he might be ADHD however I am scared to put him on medicine since he is excelling so well in academics. If it wasn't for his behavior then they would jump him up a grade. Any advice would help. Thanks.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      JSB151 It can be so confusing when a child seems to be doing well academically, yet struggles with getting along with others and following the rules.  This is actually not uncommon, as these skills develop at different rates.  Something you might try is to talk with him about specific strategiesMore he can use instead of becoming aggressive if he becomes upset, frustrated, or is otherwise triggered.  You might find some helpful strategies in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/young-kids-acting-out-in-school-the-top-3-issues-parents-worry-about-most/.  In addition, if you are concerned that there might be an underlying issue contributing to this behavior, I encourage you to check in with his doctor.  Because s/he has the ability to observe and interact directly with your son, his doctor will be in a better position to assess this.  Please be sure to check back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • Nickys mommy
    My son is great at home does what he's told never gives me a hard time but in school he can't stay in his seat,talks back, walks around the room, interrupts other kids from learning. How do I get my child to behave in school I know he can doMore it? I've gone to school and he's done in teachers are amazed that he can behave as good as he does. We had him in therapy for over a year therapist tried everything behavior charts, rewards. ( I have a drawer filled with toys and boxes and boxes of ninja turtles. I tried every reward possible and he doesn't seem to want to work for any of them. Therapist want to put him on medication but if he can read books for days and do puzzles for hours at home no issues I don't think he needs it. he has a TSS worker in school he doesn't listen to her. In school he gets in trouble for putting his hands on other kids. Help
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Nickys mommy It can be frustrating and confusing when your child is acting out in school, yet is well-behaved at home.  You are not alone in experiencing this situation.  I’m glad to see that you have been working with the school, as well as other supports like a therapist, toMore help your son manage his behavior in the classroom, and I encourage you to continue doing so.  Something you might try to do at home is to have a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/with him about how he can follow the classroom rules, and keep his hands to himself.  You might find some additional tips in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/acting-out-in-school-when-your-child-is-the-class-troublemaker/.  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • Lexf26
    I have a 7 year old and she has been going through a "phase" for 3 years now. Everyone tells me how great she is and how helpful she is but I dont get to see that side of her. My husband works a lot of hours so when heMore is home..he gives her what she wants. My other 2 children are suffering from her behavior because she is constantly yelling or hitting them. Ive done the taking away her favorite items..cancelling play dates etc but so far nothing has helped. Help please.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Lexf26 We hear from many parents who feel frustrated when their child behaves well outside the home, yet is defiant and aggressive with family members.  As described in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/angel-child-or-devil-child-when-kids-save-their-bad-behavior-for-you/, this is actually a positive sign, because it indicates that your daughter does have the skills to manage her behavior appropriately.More  Now, it’s more a matter of helping her to apply those skills to her interactions at home.  You might find some useful techniques in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/stop-aggressive-behavior-in-kids-and-tweens-is-your-child-screaming-pushing-and-hitting/  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • KatherineThompson
    Great article! Thank you!!
  • Bad boy
    I'm a young single mom, my 5 year old son has been behaving very bad at home and at school. He's been getting sent to the office almost everyday and now the principal wants to have a meeting. He says bad words, fights, throws tantrums, he's so rude like IMore don't know what to do anymore I'm scared the school is going to call children's aid and take my son away from me. The school year just started and already my son is getting in trouble. I don't beat my son and I buy him whatever he wants I take him out so I don't know why he's doing this
    • Tami
      @Bad boy Sorry to hear you are having a difficult time.  I have a 7 and 5 year old at home and have been dealing with many of the same issues.  Have you started with having consequences for his actions?  Taking away things that he likes, cancelling play dates,More etc?  Also, you commented that you buy him whatever he wants.  This only makes children become spoiled, entitled and without gratitude for anything in their lives.  Only give when he has earned it.
  • Where did I go wrong
    I have one child she is my only daughter her father was in her life up until she was about 10 since he had to pay child support he would only come and get her for doctors and dental appointment, I asked her father to come talk to herMore about boys he never did he left and married someone else .I've always been their for my daughter she got pregnant at 15 years old and I have sacrificed a lot of my life,to help her raise my grandchildren she has savatage a lot of my relationships in the past for instance stealing,lying and also stealing my social security number and getting credit cards in my name,l have forgiven her so that's not an issue, now that my daughter is 39 just got married a month ago she's always treated me like she never wanted the best for me but that's my child and I kept on helping and loving her,she will do and help others but will not oblige me since she's been married we are very estranged I know that my daughter talks about me badly, 3 years ago she had a baby and she's a diabetic,she had a lot of problems with this pregnancy the first person she called was me her mother and of course I went to go see about her the baby,the baby's heartbeat was very low and my daughter had no clue on what was going on with her and the baby in the hospital, so me as a mother step in mine you now she hadn't had a baby in 14 years so this was her third child, my parenting and mother skills kicked in, I told the doctors to take this baby because that was my baby and I needed her to be here to take care of her baby so the doctor took the baby, my daughter as a young adult has always made me feel as if I did not do a good job as a single parent, but I tell her I did my best, so to bring you up to date now she's 39 years old and she just got married 2 the three year old father beautiful weddings, on her Facebook she said that some people would be cut off after she got married it was me that would be cut off she doesn't call and see how I'm doing I've asked her to do little things for me like make a copy maybe borrow clippers to cut my dog she doesn't respond it saddens me to know that what I have sacrificed for my only child and to get to this place in my life where the love has been lost between her and me this hurts I love my daughter and I love my grandchildren very dearly but I cannot except the treatment that my daughter is giving me so what do I do I only live a block from her very close, I prayed to God about this relationship between me and my daughter I've asked him what should I do haven't gotten an answer yet but it still hurts to know that she lived this close to me and will not call or come to see me, now I do go to see her from time to time and my grandchildren but I see the change in her heart towards me very very hurtfull feeling I'm happy that she's married and the man that she's married is a very good man and gentleman where do I go from here I refuse to take the abuse from my daughter but I still love her as my child
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Where did I go wrong  

      I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles with your daughter.Unfortunately, we hear from many parents who

      are hurt by estrangement with their children, so you are not alone.I encourage you to take steps to take care of

      yourself during this time.Your

      self-care plan can be anything you wish, from engaging in an activity you

      enjoy, to working with more structured supports, such as a counselor or support

      group.For information about available

      resources in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.In

      addition, I encourage you to read our articles https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/estranged-from-your-adult-child-5-things-you-can-do/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/blog/estranged-from-adult-child-parent-child-estrangement/ You might find some

      helpful information in the articles, as well as in the comments by other

      parents who are in a similar situation.I wish you all the best moving forward; take care.

  • Nana Deb

    Hi, my 5-yr-old grandson just started school this year. His father left the family about 2 years ago so his mom ( my daughter) and her fiancé are raising him. They are wonderful with him, however he's been having a hard time the last couple of months. He has been very angry, hitting, not himself at all. His teacher called last week because he hit a boy at recess.

    He hits his little sister. The entire family walks on eggshells wondering if he will be in a good mood or not.

    We are very concerned about him.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Nana Deb  

      It can be very

      troubling when a child starts acting out aggressively both at home and at

      school.  We hear from many families with these same concerns, so you are

      not alone.  It’s actually quite common for kids your grandson’s age to hit

      others or otherwise act aggressively.  This is because they tend to have a

      low tolerance for frustration, poor impulse control and few appropriate coping

      skills to use when they become upset.  This does not mean that you have to

      accept this behavior, however.  You might find our articles https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/hitting-biting-and-kicking-how-to-stop-aggressive-behavior-in-young-children/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/young-kids-acting-out-in-school-the-top-3-issues-parents-worry-about-most/ helpful

      as you address your grandson’s aggression.  Please be sure to write back

      and let us know how things are going with you and your family.  Take care.

  • Tonyall82
    I couldn't hold back my tears when reading this article it felt like I was reading my own words! I have an 11 year old daughter who seems to argue with everything I say, lies about everything even when caught in the act. She seems to think everything is notMore fair. She argues with everyone not just me. She's disrespectful to my parents, my sister and is in constant battle with her sister who is 15. She screams, throws things, hits herself and others. She tells her sister all the time she wished she would die and says horrible things to her! She knows this is something that really upsets me as I lost my sister in a car accident. She is never satisfied with anything! Nothing is ever enough and I have found it impossible to please her! I could plan a trip to Disney and a cruise for gods sake and she will pick apart every part of it and I would only hear about all the things she wanted to do but didn't! Like the article says I have tried everything I possibly can and still the problem remains! I'm not sure what to do anymore I find myself crying into my pillow at night because I feel like I have failed her in some way. My mother works at a children's crisis center and has been telling me I need to put her in a home for unruly children but I feel like it is my responsibility to fix this problem somehow and feel guilty for even thinking of sending her away:( but I feel like it is taking away from my other daughter as well with the constant upset in the household.
    • Beckykate

      I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through with you 11 year old, you feel like their is nothing else you can do. Has she started her periods by any chance ? Hormones are certainly a facter and she knows she gets attention from you when acts like she does. Have you spoken to the school? It doesn't make you a bad parent in asking for help. It makes you a good one. I also know how much off a strain it puts on the other children in the house, a very unhappy one. I don't think it would solve the problem to send her away, and would only upset your more and feel like you have failed as a mother. Through all the upset and hurt she's your daughter and you love her very much, even at times you hate her. My advice speak to the school and go to your GP for help

      Best off luck

  • Cld42980
    my 7 almost 8 yr. Old son behavior has been off the charts lately.. every night when I come home from work I stumble across something he has done.. every chance or opportunity he gets he's doing something he knows is a BIG no-no! & then lies about it !More everything he has been doing that is bad are all extremely BAD things! not just little small things.. BIG bad things! (I could list things but it would be mile long) things he would not do if I was home! his dad is home with him while I work but it seems like every time he is alone or dads down stairs & he's up ... He's into something or messing with stuff he knows not to have his hands on.. doing something he knows is bad! I don't think his dad should have to watch him like a hawk for him to behave! but like I said everything chance he gets he is off sneaking around doing something he literally knows he's not allowed to do!? I could literally tell him not to do something & within a few hrs. he has done exactly what I told him not too.. I ask him too do something & it never gets done. I feel like I've tried everything in the book to stop him from doing this & to behave.. all the disciplining & talks.. just when I think we have a break through.. I come home.. & it's something.
  • juvie
    hi i have a 7yrs old daughter and its kinda new to me what she is showing to her school right now like punching to the other kid pushing like that.in the Philippines a lot of unruly kids in there classroom and she learn how to defend herself when sheMore have to.but now we move here in US and its i think she get used to it defending herself but in a wrong way now coz no one wants trying to hurt her but she just punch right away to the other kids.she did this 3times now and weve been talking to her nicely that she cant do that anymore if she have a problem with other kids he needs to call her teacher.but i dont know it seems like she dont listen
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    I’m so sorry to hear about your current situation with your

    daughter, and your involvement with the local authorities as a result of her

    statements.  Although no parent want to be involved with a child

    protection agency, I encourage you to work with your assigned caseworker to

    help you set limits with your daughter, as well as locate local resources which

    might not otherwise be available to you.  I also encourage you to continue

    to use the police as a resource when your daughter is acting in a threatening,

    or unsafe manner.  It can be beneficial to call them during a calm time,

    so you can discuss the kind of support you are seeking, and develop a

    plan.  We have a downloadable worksheet which can help guide this

    conversation; you can find a copy https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/. 

    I recognize how difficult this must be for you, and I wish you and your family

    all the best moving forward.  Take care.

  • RainyDay082616
    I have three children one is 6 girl 4 boy 1 boy and baby on the way well my six year old acts out like it's no other telling me to screaming crying out like she's going I've tried everything counseling whole nine yards she acts wonderful around other peopleMore a great act kind polite well mannered a child I didnt know and then at home she goes back to defiant I'm lost please help my four year old just acts unaware and one year old cries until he gets his way were exhausted
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be so

      frustrating when your child behaves appropriately when outside of the home, yet

      is constantly acting out at home.  This is not an uncommon situation, as

      pointed out in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/angel-child-or-devil-child-when-kids-save-their-bad-behavior-for-you/.  The

      good news is that because your daughter is able to demonstrate appropriate

      behavior outside of the home, she already has the skills.  Now, it is more

      a matter of working with her to apply those skills with her family

      members.  You might also consider using an https://www.empoweringparents.com/free-downloadable-charts/ to reward and reinforce when she is well-behaved at home. 

      Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and

      your family.  Take care.

  • sadmom2016
    Hi I have a 3 yrs old son and he's acting out at school having outbursts not listening to the teachers pretty much being bad when he doesn't get his way this is his first time at school and around other children and people besides his family members I needMore help on deciding what to do with his behavior issues but his teachers loves him so much could this just be a phase since he's in a new environment
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Many young children

      have difficulty adjusting to school, so your son’s behavior is not out of the

      ordinary, especially since this is the first time he has been away from family

      for an extended period.  I encourage you to talk with your son’s teacher

      about ways that you can work with him at home to become more comfortable in his

      classroom.  In addition, you might find some helpful information and tips

      in our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/young-kids-acting-out-in-school-the-top-3-issues-parents-worry-about-most/. 

      Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going with your

      son.  Take care.

  • Momof2boys
    I have a 2 1/2 year old that is picking up bad behaviors from his cousin such as hitting, yelling, and not complying to anything we say. My in-law's watch him and his cousin, who is the same age five days a week. They constantly hit and fight with eachMore other. My son will be able to start school as soon as he turns 3 but until then he's with the in-law's. My only other option is to have my sister watch him but makes drop off and pick up more complicated. Do know what to do? Help!
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be quite

      difficult when your child appears to be learning aggression and other

      inappropriate behaviors from another kid.  Something to keep in mind is

      that it is actually quite common for kids your son’s age to act out

      aggressively, because young children tend to have a low tolerance for

      frustration, as well as few appropriate coping skills to use when they become

      upset.  Ultimately, the decision of whether to have your son remain at

      your in-laws during the day, or have your sister watch him is yours.  In

      any case, I recommend holding your son accountable for his choices to hit and

      yell, as well as working with him at home to practice more appropriate ways of

      expressing his emotions.  Dr. Joan has some great suggestions in her

      article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/hitting-biting-and-kicking-how-to-stop-aggressive-behavior-in-young-children/. 

      Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going.

  • Jojomom
    My 3 year old has been hitting, biting, screaming etc. at school. Everyday I get a report that he has done something. It's so frustrating because at home he does not exhibit these behaviors so I'm so lost at what to do. He's been kicked out of one school andMore there is talk of a possible IEP. He's very smart loving sweet and articulate but refuses to show them at school.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Many parents feel

      confused, frustrated and anxious when their child is acting out at

      school.  Something to keep in mind is that this kind of behavior is quite

      common for kids your son’s age. While that does not mean that what is doing is

      acceptable, many young children tend to use aggressive behavior as a coping

      skill when they become angry, upset or frustrated.  Something that can be

      helpful is to talk with his teacher(s) about what he is doing in the classroom,

      and how they are currently responding to his behavior.  You might find

      additional tips in our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/young-kids-acting-out-in-school-the-top-3-issues-parents-worry-about-most/. 

      I understand how challenging this type of behavior can be, and I wish you and

      your son the best as you work through it.  Take care.

  • Deano99notout

    My 4 year old srep dauggter hit her little brother in the face with a stick.

    She then threw her toys and kicked other things.

    She refused naughty chair and refused too eat her tea.

    And then screamed the flat down.

    So because of this behaviour I made her sit out of play time in the pool for half an hour 40 minutes with her brother and neice to show her she will miss out with that behaviour.

    So her brother and niece played.

    Would anyone see that as a harsh punishment?? Or old you say it was fair??

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Thank you for your question.  Many parents struggle

      with issues such as aggression, and trying to find effective consequences, so

      you are not alone.  In general, we recommend using consequences that you

      can implement consistently.  It’s also important to keep consequences

      pretty short-term, especially for a young child.  You might find some

      helpful tips on addressing this type of behavior in the future in our articles https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/hitting-biting-and-kicking-how-to-stop-aggressive-behavior-in-young-children/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/5-steps-to-giving-effective-consequences-to-young-kids/.  Please let us

      know if you have any additional questions; take care

  • Nyl

    Hi i have 4 year old girl and now in preschool.this week i was informed that she hit her classmate.then yesterday she bite her classmate too.the first incident i talked to her and told that if she did it again i will not be home.the situation is stressful for me because i feel that they all think that my daughter is a bad and i came to a point that i felt its true.i didnt sleep last night because of the message i received from her teacher that she bite her classmate.this morning i talked to her in a calm voice and asked what had happen and she told me that she bite her classmate.i told her that its not good because she hurt her classmate.then i told her if she still wants to go to school or not and she answered yes i want to go to school.then i asked her if what is her feelings about school?is she happy or sad or angry.then she said she is sad because she doesnt have seatmate.they are 7 in class and she told me they all have seatmates and im alone.then i tried to ask her to draw the classroom before and now.she told me that before she has seatmate and now she is alone.

    Is isolation was the possible reason why my daughter has negative behavior in class and the reason why she bite and hit her classmate.as per teacher she did well in class in activities and recitation.the only problem is her behavior this week.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be

      heartbreaking and frustrating when your child begins acting out aggressively at

      school, and you are not alone in this situation.  It’s actually quite

      common for kids your daughter’s age to behave aggressively with peers, because

      they tend to have a low tolerance for frustration, and few appropriate coping

      skills to use when they become upset.  I encourage you to continue working

      with your daughter on her behavior at home, as well as keeping open

      communication with her teacher about what is happening in the classroom. 

      You might find some additional helpful information in our articles https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/hitting-biting-and-kicking-how-to-stop-aggressive-behavior-in-young-children/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/young-kids-acting-out-in-school-the-top-3-issues-parents-worry-about-most/. 

      Please be sure to check back and let us know how things are going for you and

      your daughter.  Take care.

  • Aryana
    HI, i am super lost and need help big-time. My sister is 9 years old, and my mother is a single parent with a full-time job. She simply doesn't have enough time or energy to address my sister's behaviour. I am 14, and generally am with my sister every day.More She constantly gets into screaming matches with my mom, refuses to shower or sleep, and is addicted to the family tablet. If anyone tries to confront her on anything she starts to yell and cry. We learned recently that she has issues controlling her anger, so we don't exactly want to rock the boat, but it's difficult. She uses my parents divorce against them, and whines and complains about my mom's boyfriend just to mess with her head, even though I know that she is fine with both and actually likes the guy. If I try and control her, she rushes to break my things. If my mom tries to punish her, she uses the 'favourite child' card or the 'not my real parents' card, since she is adopted. I have no clue what to do about it, and I try and tell my mom to not let her anger show, but she is just too tired to do anything. Screaming at my sister just makes things worse, and I can't do anything to help. I know my mom does everything and more for us, but my sister is just so ungrateful and it's killing my mom. Please help :(
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

      sharing your story.  I hear how difficult your relationship with your

      sister is right now, and how much you want to help your mom.  I’m glad

      that you are reaching out for support. Because we are a website aimed at

      helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and

      suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role. It may be

      helpful to look into local resources to help you develop a plan for addressing

      your particular issues. One that might be useful to you is the Kids Help Phone,

      which offers 24/7 phone counseling to teens just like you.  They also

      offer options for live chat, information on local resources and archived

      questions from other teens on their website which you might find helpful. 

      You can reach them by calling 1-800-668-6868 or by visiting their website at http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/  We

      wish you the best going forward. Take care.

  • ChristineOS
    Hello, I'm writing here because I don't know where to turn.  My 8 year old son is so out of control.  I had to pull him out of kindergarten for screaming and yelling in class and hitting when he doesn't get his way.  Anytime we go anywhere with other kids,More the other kids always run up to me..."your son did this....your son did that....your son just threw something at me...."etc.  The only reason anyone ever invites us over is because they want to see ME! their kids want to like him, but it seems like he wants everyone to dislike him.  He refuses to listen to me, wrestles and hurts his younger brother,  I can ask him to do or not do something and the second i walk into another room he's disobeying again.  He tried to steal some toys from a store, he's taken money from our savings box we thought was hidden, i've seen toys from other kids houses.  He's unbelievably lazy too.  The other day he took the keys to our car and i followed him and he turned the car on and drove about 5 feet before i got to him to stop him.  I'm genuinely scared.  If you saw him, you'd say Wow, what a sweet charismatic boy!  and he is....that's the strange part.  He can be so loving and giving when he wants.  He won't kill animals or bugs.  He will cry if another kid does.  And he's been in plays in our local community theater, everyone that knows him, but not very well thinks he's so funny and sweet and great.  All those things are true....but the other things are there as well.  I hate to admit it, but when i look into his future i see him in prison or somewhere really bad.
    • Mommy22
      This sounds exactly like my 8 year old. I'm at my wits end with him . He got suspended 4 times in second grade and eventually kicked out of his school. He destroys everything in his path, turns a clean and tidy room into a pig sty, and has startedMore doing disgusting things with his 5 year old sister! I'm disgusted because he's a very caring, sweet intelligent boy. He's been on ADHD meds since he was 5, has counseling and an IEP at school for his stuttering and I'm at a loss. No one knows how to deal with his behaviors not even the professionals. We are good parents he's loved and has everything he needs I'm not sure what to do!!
    • ChristineOS
      Thank you, RebeccaW.....Tackling a few problems at a time seems like a great idea.  I'll check out those articles right now.  I appreciate it.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Thank you for

      writing in.  I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support. 

      It’s normal for parents to feel overwhelmed and scared as a child continues to

      act out in inappropriate ways, and to project what consequences that behavior

      might lead to in the future.  While this is a common response, it doesn’t

      tend to be effective to https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/worried-sick-about-your-childs-future-how-to-stop-the-anxiety/

      because it can impact how well you are able to address what your son is

      currently doing.  Instead, it can be more helpful to focus on one or two

      behaviors at a time, and move forward from there.  We have many different

      articles addressing the behaviors you mentioned-stealing, sibling fighting,

      aggression, lack of motivation, and more.  These might be useful to read

      next: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/in-over-your-head-how-to-improve-your-childs-behavior-and-regain-control-as-a-parent/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/good-behavior-is-not-magic-its-a-skill-the-3-skills-every-child-needs-for-good-behavior/.  Please let us know if you have any additional

      questions.  Take care.

  • karinashine
    Hello I have been crying on and off for a week.my 5 year old son has two weeks saying and doing the opposite of what I say. He continues to lie and say rude things that he doesn't hear anywhere else. I am a single mother so it'sMore just me and him. He says "I wanted to say you're stupid but didn't. " "I kissed that girl" continously and after I investigate he hasnt. Why I ask him why are you acting like this and he gives me idk answer. I have him do knees and nose and he has done it continuously almost all day today. I have taken almost everything from him little by little he had no toys tv or anything. I am trying to have a sticker system to keep him motivated. He is just saying things innapropriately, repeats to make sure I'm annoyed and listening. He had all my attention this summer I'm with him 247 what else does he need? I have tried almost every technique. I am so desperate at this point.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be so

      frustrating when you feel as though you have tried just about everything, and

      your child continues to be rude and defiant.  Something to keep in mind is

      that any behavior which is given a lot of attention (whether positive or

      negative) tends to repeat itself.  If your son has learned that he can get

      a big reaction from you by acting a certain way, then this is “working” for him

      on some level.  It also tends to be ineffective to take everything away

      for long periods of time, especially for young children.  For kids your

      son’s age, using short-term or daily incentives for appropriate behavior tends

      to be more effective.  Using a sticker chart, as you mentioned, is a great

      start.  You might also find some more useful techniques in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/5-steps-to-giving-effective-consequences-to-young-kids/.  I understand

      how challenging this can be, and I hope that you will write back and let us

      know how things are going.  Take care.

  • Beckykate
    I have a 7 year old daughter who's bad behaviour started at reception age, we discovered that she had speech and language problems that have been addressed at school with support, we throughly it was all about frustration, but as the speech and language got better the bad behaviour continued,More the tantrums got worse kicking and punching doors and throwing what ever was at hand. These come and go and than the rudeness starts, has a answer for everything and just doesn't do as she told. She is well behaved at school, but starts as soon as I pick her up. I went to my GP to get help and I got referred to a specialist and they just said we needed parenting classes, inwhich unimpressed us. Life at home is hell. So constantly fights with her sister who is 14 inwhich she hates her. I have tried everything I can to deal with this from smucking , ignoring her, taking away things, we are at our wits end, any suggestions please?
    • Darlene EP


      I am sorry to hear your

      daughter’s behavior has been such a struggle. We hear from many parents who

      tell us their children are well behaved at school but when they get home it is

      another story. The good news is your daughter has the skills to manage herself

      at school. It is now a matter of helping her to apply those skills at home. As

      Sara Bean states in her article https://toms.thruways.com/coaching/index.cfm?CFID=6407d3ff-2b3e-4a0f-9f3e-473edd2eab88&CFTOKEN=0&p=case-psl&customerID=6623687&caseID=42147&do=view&r=success, it is

      going to be important to start to create a culture of accountability in your

      home. Sara talks about what that is and how you can start doing it now. I know

      it is difficult to be dealing with such challenging behavior. We wish you the

      best as you continue to work through this. Let us know if you have any further


  • IndiaDamitaJoKennedy
    I am at my wits end. I feel that my husband and I have tried everything when it comes to our almost 4 year old behavior at school. He's been very defiant with his teachers and hitting his classmates. He knows what he is doing is wrong and instead ofMore just sitting down to talk to his teachers he runs and yells no. Today I resorted to spanking because everything else we do just doesn't seem to work. Academically he's doing great, but his behavior sucks. This have just started within the last 2-3 months, and I do not know what to do anymore
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be quite

      frustrating when your child appears to know the rules, yet continues to break

      them at school.  The type of behavior you describe is pretty common among

      kids your son’s age because they tend to have a low frustration tolerance, poor

      self-control, and few appropriate coping skills to use when they become

      upset.  We do not recommend using spanking as a disciplinary technique

      because it is not teaching your son how to follow the rules at school, and could

      actually be reinforcing his own aggressive behavior toward classmates. 

      Instead, it can be useful to talk and role play with your son about how he can

      follow the rules at school, and provide incentives at home when he does

      so.  Dr. Joan Simeo Munson offers more tips to address this behavior in

      her article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/young-kids-acting-out-in-school-the-top-3-issues-parents-worry-about-most/. 

      I understand how challenging this behavior can be, and I hope you will write

      back and let us know how things are going.  Take care.

  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


    I’m so sorry to hear you have not been able to find the

    support your son needs. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes awhile to find a

    program that is a good fit. While I’m not able to recommend a specific program,

    there are a couple services that may be able to help you find what you are

    looking for. First is the 211 Helpline, a national health and human services

    referral service. You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling

    1-800-273-6222. You can also find them online at 211.org. Another website that

    may be able to give you information on suitable programs is http://www.natsap.org/. You can reach them by phone at 1-928-443-9505. Best of luck to

    you and your family moving forward. Take care.

  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


    What a tough situation. I can hear how much you want to help

    your family through these challenges. It may help to know that it’s not

    uncommon for young children to act out during difficult times. At 3, your niece

    isn’t going to have sufficient skills for dealing with her parents’ separation

    and the other issues at hand. Because social services is currently working with

    your niece and her family, we’re limited in the coaching we are able to offer.

    We would not want to suggest anything that would run counter to specific case

    management they may have in place. We do have several articles that offer

    insight into aggression in young children. One in particular you may find

    useful is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/hitting-biting-and-kicking-how-to-stop-aggressive-behavior-in-young-children/. We

    wish you and your family the best of luck moving forward. Take care.

  • khrystal
    Punishments for a misbehaving 7 year old boy. I feel lost. I need stong punishments that are affected. Talks back, etc. Does whatever he wants. I'm threw. Im his mom before best friend. He has gone far enough. Anyone have suggestions please. For all different sorts of bad behavior pleaseeeeeeee
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Many parents

      struggle with finding effective consequences when a child is acting out, so you

      are not alone.  When parents are dealing with multiple inappropriate

      behaviors, it can be more effective to focus on only one or two at a

      time.  In this way, you and your child are less likely to become

      overwhelmed, and you are more likely to remain consistent in how you hold him

      accountable for his misbehavior.  Sara Bean outlines this in her article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/in-over-your-head-how-to-improve-your-childs-behavior-and-regain-control-as-a-parent/.  In addition, using time-limited and task-oriented consequences

      tend to be more effective.  Megan Devine discusses how to effectively set

      these up in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/using-consequences-to-maintain-your-parental-authority/.  Thank you for

      writing in, and please let us know if you have any additional questions.

  • Miranda2234
    These tactics are already used and with an ODD child consistency only makes things escalate further. They don't like it when people can see their true games and they will lash out on whoever it is that sees it for what it is. I don't think there is any wayMore of changing this. Let's not assume parents are not being consistent because chances are if a parent has gotten to this stage they are not tolerating the behaviour. Let's not assume us parents are reacting with negative emotions because most of us are loving and patient people. Our children are skilled at provoking anger and are skilled at conning people. That's not something that consistency is going to to fix. The trigger is that we see it for what it is and our children are lashing out because of it
  • mommyof2
    My son argues constantly i mean constantly. Everything is an arguement. At first i would explain and listen. Now i just tell him I'm not going to argue and he says u didnt let me finish my sentences and gets genuinely sad. When ever his step father tells him anythingMore it's like the world is ending. I can't tell him anything with out a pout and argument . And he tries to control my step daughter. My step daughter is 4. She refuses to eat. When I'm cooking she demands to know what then tells me u have to give me only small! Then she sits and chews one bite for 20 minutes it literally takes her an hour and a half to eat a meal. She screams if I brush her hair. If I tell her it's bath time she point blank says no. I gave her her own room bought toys n furniture and when I'm in it she tells me what are you doing in my room get out. If her dad tells her anything she pouts. Time out she screams bloody murder. Then franticly starts itching or screams that her legs hurt. If she has ro walk she says her legs are broken if she has to tske a nap she says she cant feel her eyes. im so sick and tired!!!! No matter what we say she does the opposite and now she has started lying to get her brother in trouble. I wasn't sure so I spied on them and sure enough she came to tell on him for something he never did out of no where. She's defiant and we're at our wits end.
    • tiredmum9
      This is exactly the same as my 6 year old and how we feel :( i feel mentally/emotionally drained all the time...have u found any resolve yet? Is ur child good in school? Mine is perfect for school so they dont wana pass on any support :( its a phaseMore apparently but she has been like this since she was 2 years old (she'll be 7 in november)
    • streettwix09
      Every bit of what you are going through i am going through with my stepson
  • Worried Nana

    My six year old grandson is getting in trouble at school for not listening to directions. He won't sit still and is disruptive to the lessons. He likes to be the class clown. My daughter is at a loss. At home and at our house he constantly is playing Minecraft. His teacher this year, as well as other teachers in the past, say he doesn't show remorse. He doesn't cry but as a rule he is a very happy child. Is it normal for a child not to cry? As a baby he tipped over from a sitting position and got a black eye as he was sitting too close to a hassock with wooden legs.

    Could this be a factor in his behavior?

Advertisement for Empowering Parents Total Transformation Online Package
Like What You're Reading?
Sign up for our newsletter and get immediate access to a FREE eBook, 5 Ways to Fix Disrespectful Behavior Now
We will not share your information with anyone. Terms of Use