Five-year-olds require consistent rules and consequences.

Discipline for the Behavior Problems of a 5-Year-Old Child

by Amy Morin

When your child reaches the age of 5, you have a small window of reprieve between those terrible twos and the attitude-filled 'tween years. However, it might not always seem like much of reprieve. As 5-year-olds develop autonomy, they test limits, question authority and test their new motor skills in precarious ways. Disciplining a 5-year-old requires that you be one step ahead at all times. They're guaranteed to keep you on your toes.


The good news is, most 5-year-olds appreciate attention and praise for their accomplishments. Encourage good behavior by praising their efforts and giving them extra attention for their good deeds and pro-social behaviors. For example, when your child picks his clothing up off the floor, say, "Wow, great job putting your clothes in the hamper without a reminder!" Don't forget to praise kids for behaviors that sometimes go unnoticed, such as playing quietly or acting brave at the dentist's office.


Kids love rewards and prizes, so use their enthusiasm to your advantage. At age 5, some kids are still motivated by a sticker chart. Other kids can handle more complex reward programs where stickers can be exchanged for bigger rewards. Use rewards to encourage your child to do chores, get ready for school on time, and follow directions. Involve kids in choosing rewards they want to earn and it will guarantee they'll stay motivated to keep earning them.


If there's one element a 5-year-old hates, it's a lack of an audience. Because children at this age love to show off and get attention, tactical instances of ignoring them can be an effective discipline. Ignore behaviors such as whining, temper tantrums and repeatedly asking the same question. When you ignore those behaviors, your child should grow bored and stop the behavior. Provide positive attention again as soon as the behavior stops. Your child should catch on quickly.


Use time-outs for behaviors such as aggression and defiance. When your child makes a poor choice, give him time to think about what he could do better next time. You can conduct a time-out in a chair, in the corner, in a room, or even a vehicle when necessary. Ensure that he doesn't have access to TV, games or toys during his time-out. Give a 5-year-old five minutes in time-out. If he flees, start the timer over again.

About the Author

Amy Morin has been writing about parenting, relationships, health and lifestyle issues since 2009. Her work appears in many print and online publications, including and Global Post. Morin works as a clinical therapist and a college psychology instructor. Morin received her Master of Social Work from the University of New England.

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