At the End of My Rope with My 5-Year-Old Girl

02 June, 2020
Q Salam `alaykum.

I have a five-year-old. She is very bright and very active. She is the eldest of three girls. Her grades are wonderful and Alhamdulillah she seems to have an age-appropriate understanding of Islam. However, her behavior can be horrible.

I have caught her stealing, lying, she can be disrespectful in her manner of speaking and rude.

She is often deliberately disobedient, doing the very thing she was told not to do MINUTES after she was told not to. I have tried time outs, removing privileges, talking, praying with her, explaining how these things upset me and Allah.

I had her evaluated for behavioral disorders and they said she was fine. She seems genuinely sorry afterwards, but there is no lasting effect.

SWhat am I doing wrong? I hate to use spanking. Help. There has to be a way to get my well-behaved baby girl back.

Answer

In this counseling answer:

•Make sure that you notice your daughter and praise her for her good actions. Fulfill her need to feel that she belongs to you and is a part of your life.

•When your daughter misbehaves because she desires power, make sure you keep your cool. Do not give into the power struggle and go ahead and enforce your rules in a positive manner.

•As a parent, instead of reinforcing the cycle of revenge by feeling and showing that you are disappointed or angry, choose not to join this war.

•Give her more positive vibes than negative ones. Talk and listen to her and show her that you enjoy her company.


As-salamu `alaikum Sister,

Thank you for sending us your question. May Allah help you with your daughter and may she become from the righteous and the success in this life and the hereafter.

It is definitely difficult to be a parent. As you could see, sometimes children can be unpredictable! Human beings are complex creatures that are full of unexplained emotions that even they cannot fully understand.

One may feel anxiety, but before treating the symptoms, we need to understand where this anxiety came from in the first place. We need to solve the root problem. In order to learn how to deal with misbehaving children, we first need to know why they are misbehaving.

With children, there may be several reasons why they misbehave. Since they are young individuals, they are just starting to learn about themselves and how they fit in this world amongst people. They are constantly learning from their surroundings.

You mentioned that your daughter is five years old. At this age, children have a strong sense of family and themselves and are eager to experience the real world. They are usually very active and creative. They like to be adventurous and love to hear stories. Their imagination is very active, as well as their behavior!

As a parent, there maybe a few things to keep in mind about what triggers a child to push your buttons.

At the End of My Rope with My 5-Year-Old Girl - About Islam

There maybe four different root reasons why children misbehave. They are the following:

•Attention

•Power

•Revenge

Low self-esteem

Attention:

At five years of age, most children are craving for attention, and they don’t necessarily care if it is good or bad attention. When a child doesn’t feel that he/she belongs or is loved enough, he/she may intentionally misbehave in order to get noticed.

In order to prevent this, make sure that you notice your daughter and praise her for her good actions. Fulfill her need to feel that she belongs to you and is a part of your life.

Also, do not show annoyance if she misbehaves. It will only reinforce the misbehavior because you would be giving her attention. Instead, train her to get accustomed to receiving good attention once she does something good.

Power:

Children desire power. As they grow up, they desire more and more to become independent. We want our children to grow up to be independent individuals, but we also want them to obey our rules.

When your daughter misbehaves because she desires power, make sure you keep your cool. Do not give into the power struggle and go ahead and enforce your rules in a positive manner.


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For example, your daughter may refuse to eat breakfast when you offer it. Instead of forcing her to eat, you would allow her not to eat and also let her know that there will be no food served until lunch time.

She may have a tantrum, but you would ignore it and contain your anger. Let her know that she has the right to choose her actions but there will be consequences.

Revenge:

Revenge is another human reaction that we impulsively incline to after our feelings have been hurt. Children certainly feel the inclination to seek revenge, especially after they lose the power struggle with their parent(s).

As a parent, instead of reinforcing the cycle of revenge by feeling and showing that you are disappointed or angry, choose not to join this war. It will take time to break this cycle, but persistently talk and listen to your child when they are calm about their feelings of revenge. The key is to remain calm.

Low self-esteem

Finally, the last reason why children may misbehave is low self-esteem. They may feel like they are inadequate and hopeless. Children feel bad about themselves and their surroundings so they misbehave.

Parents should never agree with their children’s insecurities and always strive to encourage and motivate children.

Do not show them pity. Instead, give them positive reinforcement when they feel down and when they don’t.

I agree with you sister when you mentioned that you loathe the use of spanking. Spanking is a negative form of punishment that will not get you anywhere and can also result in the humiliation of your child.

It seems like your daughter may be showing many of the four issues that are described above. It is important to note that while parenting, we need to look at the child as a whole and his/her experiences instead of responding to isolated situations of misbehavior.

Give her more positive vibes than negative ones. Talk and listen to her and show her that you enjoy her company.

I have taken the above information from two sources that maybe of interest to you:

Turecki, S. (2000). The difficult child. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Don, D., McKay, G., & Dinkmeyer, D. (1997). The parent’s handbook: Systemic training for effective parenting. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service, Inc.

May Allah grant you patience and strength to raise wonderful, successful, and independent children.

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Aliah F. Azmeh
Aliah F. Azmeh is a licensed clinical social worker who practices in Detroit, Michigan. Aliah graduated with a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan in 2007 and has experience working in the United States and overseas. Aliah currently works as a clinical social worker and provides individual, family, and marital counseling at Muslim Family Services in Detroit, MI.