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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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My 5yr old grandson is just way out of control and is acting

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My 5yr old grandson is just way out of control and is acting crazy at home and school. My daughter has a 5 month yr old baby boy and naturally the behaviour has increased since the birth, however he has always been very active and demanded constant attention etc. which he has always had. My daughter is a fantastic mother and spends a lot of time with him, crafts, activities, kisses and cuddles, helping with his brother (who he adores), she could not do any more than she is doing. The shool is working with her on a good choices/bad choices program which is rewarded if good choices made etc. I spent one morning at her home yesterday and was totally exhausted, he is like a tornado going around at fifty miles and hour, and will not listen at all to anything he is asked to do. She is totally exhausted (feeding, late nights with the baby) and is losing patience fast with her 5 year old. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hello and thanks for using!

Yes, your intuition that a parent / grandparent should only say it once is right on. At that point actions speak much louder than words... An appropriate response would simply be, "Uh-oh! How sad..." (then remove him from the train). He'll catch on quickly that mom means it the FIRST time. When we say what we want more than once (I've even heard parents say up to 6 times to stop... or else...) it holds very little weight b/c the kiddo already knows that nothing will happen and it becomes a game of "who's in control here?" When the parent has to ask multiple times, it's the child who is in control!

What the school is doing sounds like a great behavioral modification program. Removing privileges is often very effective, but only if the child knows exactly what he could lose with a misbehavior. This works even better if the WANTED behavior is rewarded (making it the more fun option of the two!)

One parenting / teaching theory I like a lot is called Love & Logic. You can check out their website ( for lots of free articles and video clips for parents. It's basically a set of strategies for dealing with misbehaviors using empathy, appropriate consequences, and causing the least amount of stress on the parent. I recommend it frequently to parents and teachers I work with and use it with my own daughter as well.

A simple starting point is to start a day by teaching a wanted behavior (can't expect him to know what you're talking about if you haven't made sure he knows specifically what it means to "use a quiet voice," "be gentle with your hands" or whatever the wanted behavior is -- stick with positive goals versus "don't hit," "don't yell," etc.) Do this when he's in a good mood and stick with 1-2 behaviors you think he needs to work on at first. It's a silly game at that point... "THIS IS A LOUD VOICE! This is a quiet voice. Can you say something in your loud voice? Now how about your quiet voice? That's great!" The next step is to simply say, "When we're in the house, we use our quiet voices" (or whatever rules you're trying to drive home). Now the fun begins... For the first time, you WANT him to misbehave. How can you shape the behavior unless he gives you an opportunity to curb it, right?

Let's say he suddenly begins yelling / throwing a tantrum about something. Go back to the "Uh-oh! How sad..." (remain VERY neutral -- no anger at all, this is no sweat off your back b/c it's not you who has a problem here). Then you remove him to his room for some "quiet time" (or time out, whatever you'd like to call it.) Tell him, "You can come out in 5 minutes (1 min per year of age is a general rule of thumb) if you're quiet." You know he knows what this means b/c you've practiced it earlier. Set the stage in advance by making sure his room (or other area) is a safe place for this then let him be and go about your business where he can't see you (best if you can close the door). At the end of 5 minutes, ask if he's ready to be quiet and give him a big hug. Virtually any misbehavior can be handled with the "Uh-oh!" song followed by an appropriate consequence (remove the child from the situation by giving him a time out, remove the object / toy that is causing a problem, or remove a privilege -- e.g., the train ride). Soon enough the "Uh-oh!" alone will be enough for him to stop what he's doing and correct himself before it's too late. Just be sure to keep it in a positive tone -- Any anger or frustration will only feed into the attention he may be seeking with negative behaviors.

This is a lot of info and I don't want to overwhelm you with other strategies at this point. I'd encourage you to check out the website and try your best to be consistent with it (as with any parenting technique) for at least 1-2 weeks and you'll likely start seeing some great results. I wish you the best of luck!
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