5 Year Old Behavior Problems and Discipline Strategies

Behaviour Problems in 5 Year Olds – Causes and Discipline Strategies

We all love kids, but as they grow, it becomes difficult to comprehend their behaviour and know how to react. As children shift from toddlerhood to kindergarten years, around the age of 5 years, their maturity and level of understanding also change. Plus, with continuous exposure to gadgets and demands fulfilled, parents are seeing an exponential increase in 5-year-old behaviour issues and the age around that. Combating behaviour problems and tantrums in 5-year-olds can be confusing and distressing for parents, but it is not at all impossible. To know how to deal with 5-year-old behaviour issues and how to discipline them without going to extreme measures, read on.

What Is a Behavioural Problem?

A behavioural problem is an issue generated out of any behaviour of a child that society does not approve of. This problem may arise from any kind of stress or lack of care for a child. Children in their formative years are still understanding themselves and the outside world’s expectations, and they may not have a fine understanding of expressing their emotions well, which may lead them to anger, frustration, and tantrums. While sometimes their tantrums or behaviour may come out as naughty, it is not considered normal if the child continues to behave like that or if it is disruptive, harmful to them or others, or disturbs their social presence or academia. Therefore, it is important to understand the situation from their level of understanding and teach them about right and wrong things and their respective consequences.

What Behaviour Is Expected From a 5-Year-Old Child?

By the age of 5, many children understand that there are certain things that they need to do by themselves. When a child turns 5, he might do a few things on his own, like brushing his teeth, taking a bath, or getting ready for school. Some guidance and instructions might be required so that they do all these activities properly and don’t forget as well.

Many children also begin to interact with other kids by this age. Your child might already have a best friend or might be hanging around with a different group of friends, trying to find one. As outgoing as your child might be, he could also get possessive at times and resort to keeping his toys to himself. This behaviour is normal and can be handled by engaging him in games that can be enjoyed alone.

The curiosity of kids is at peak at this age. Your 5-year-old kid might ask you a number of questions all the time, even at the wrong time. This might lead to embarrassing situations in public settings. Do not discourage your child from asking questions, but also encourage him to start thinking and trying to reason things.

Your child may have been a cry-baby as an infant, but now he might be substantially in control of his emotions. He may fall while playing, cry a bit, and start playing again. He may even get angry and seem out of control at times, too. Based on his behaviour, you may need to guide him in channelling his emotions the right way.

What Behaviour Issues Are Commonly Seen in 5-Year-Olds?

Most of the 5-year-old behaviour problems at school are a good marker for understanding any issues that your child might be facing.

He might be getting involved in fights and arguments with kids on a regular basis over petty things. This can be further seen if he usually stays alone and his friends are actively trying to keep away from him all the time. He might fail to note down what he has studied in class just because he doesn’t feel like it, or he may end up not completing his homework. He may even be stubborn at times and throw tantrums. Your friends and family may call him a nuisance who seems only to cause problems and nothing else. And this would only aggravate this kind of behaviour.

Girl crying

What Are the Common Causes of Behavioural Problems in 5-Year-Old Children?

Children at this age try to understand the things around them. This is the age when their character develops, but certain things may lead to behavioural problems in them. Know what results in a behavioural problem in children:

  •  Children at this age struggle to transition effectively from preschool to life at kindergarten. This is the first time they might experience the feeling of being separated from their friends in preschool. If a child hasn’t been to preschool, then interacting with a completely different group of people can be quite taxing for him. This is combined with a new lifestyle of sitting quietly in a place and paying attention to what is being taught without the freedom available at home.
  • An excessive curiosity of sorts could also manifest into frustration-filled behaviour. This is when the kids do not realize their capabilities of doing activities and get frustrated with repeated failures.
  • A 5-year-old’s behavioural problems at home could also be a result of wanting to be perfect in everything he does and failing to do so. This unhappiness can further result in tantrums. On the other hand, some kids may want to be as independent as they can and may respond rudely to you if you ask them to do something.

How to Discipline a 5-Year-Old With Behavior Problems?

Disciplining 5-year-olds is a challenging task on its own, but not impossible. Here are a few ways to effectively deal with your child’s behaviour problem at this age.

1. Keep it Simple

A kid at this age is unprepared to understand the rationale behind his behaviour. Trying to explain it to him could confuse him even more. Your child will continue to show tantrums over time if things don’t go his way. So, you should explain to him about his behaviour in a gentle tone and in the simplest way possible. Tell him his mistake and ask him politely not to repeat it.

2. Be Patient

Your kid will not turn into an ideal child overnight. The behavioural problems will keep surfacing intermittently, as he, too, will be struggling with emotion and reason. Continue telling your child it is wrong, and over time, he will understand.

3. Be Strict

Certain actions, such as throwing things or breaking things, should be strictly established as intolerable. Any display of aggression and violence should be nipped in the bud at this age.

4. Understand the Reason

Try asking your child why he is behaving the way he is. If he doesn’t talk, try to figure out what has recently changed that might have caused this behaviour to occur.

5. Communication Is the Key

Being able to speak freely is essential in this regard. You can choose a place in his room where you can sit silently and let him tell you whatever he wants to, without judgement.

6. A Good Routine Is Necessary

Not having enough sleep or rest or cramming too many activities together could cause your child to break down. Ensure he gets proper sleep and follows a routine so that his behaviour is not impacted. You should also let him make his own choices.

7. One Way Doesn’t Work for All

You may need to adopt different strategies to discipline your child. Issuing timeouts or setting restrictions may work for some but not for others. So, you need to pick the best way to discipline your little child.

8. Hold On to Your Temper and Broaden Their View of the World and Things

Physical punishment like smacking will only anger young children, including a 5-year-old child. Instead of teaching them about the consequences of their behaviour through pain, broaden their perspective of things. Allow them to think. If they cuss, drop anything in anger, or behave in an unacceptable way, ask them to think about this ‘Would you like to if someone throws your thing/say bad words to you/hurt you/do that to you?’ Allow them to think of the consequences of their bad behaviour if it comes back to them.

9. Use ‘Time Out’

Use the time-out method to discipline your child and allow them to understand the consequences of their actions. Decide certain places in the house for a time-out zone without any distraction or fidgeting if they share an unacceptable behaviour. Similar goes for when you are travelling and then you can use a car for that time.


1. When should I worry about my 5-year-old behaviour?

Behavioural issues in 5-year-olds should not be ignored lightly or slid aside in the form of any joke as this would impact their behaviour in future as well. Some concerning signs of your child’s behaviour problems at home or at school would be:

  • not listening to your instructions.
  • throwing tantrums wherever they go.
  • showing no interest in interacting with other children or family or participating in social activities.
  • looking withdrawn, sad, uninterested, aggressive, etc.

2. What are some red flags/dangers in 5-year-old behaviour?

continuous objectable behaviour at school or home, unusual fears, frequent temper tantrums, difficulty in taking part in activities, social interaction, and concentration in studies, sudden outbursts, sad or negative attitude, or lack of attention are some red flags of your child’s behaviour problems at school or home, which need immediate attention and care.

For most parents, behavioural problems in their 5-year-old child can easily get on their nerves. Being angry and hitting your child is never the right way to discipline him. No child acts out of malice. Try and figure out the reason for his behaviour, and you will have solved half the problem then and there.


1. Possible Red Flags; ACMH; https://www.acmh-mi.org/get-information/childrens-mental-health-101/possible-red-flags/

2. Behavioural disorders in children; BetterHealth Channel; https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/behavioural-disorders-in-children

3. Dealing with child behaviour problems; NHS; https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/babys-development/behaviour/dealing-with-child-behaviour-problems/

4. Common Causes of Behavior Problems in Kids; Child Mind Institute; https://childmind.org/article/common-causes-of-behavior-problems-in-kids/

5. What You Can Do to Change Your Child’s Behavior; Familydoctor.org; https://familydoctor.org/what-you-can-do-to-change-your-childs-behavior/

Also Read: Child Psychology and Tips to Understand Their Behaviour

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