Does Your Kid Have an Attitude Problem?

5-Year-Olds: Angry & Independent

You tell your 5-year-old to turn off the TV, and she throws the remote on the floor, runs into her room, and slams the door.

Brat Buster: Being angry is okay, but your child has to learn that hurling objects and slamming doors is always against the rules. At age 5, kids still have a hard time dealing with anger, but they're old enough to learn from consequences. "Your child needs clear, consistent punishment when she behaves like this," says Hilary Flower, author of Adventures in Gentle Discipline. "If she knows you're in control, the bad behavior will disappear fast." In this case, calmly take away a privilege, like watching a favorite TV show for a week, and explain why you're doing it. Don't back down no matter how much your child pleads or apologizes.

The Big Picture: Learning how to feel mad without behaving badly is something even grown-ups struggle with. "Kids who react physically when they're feeling angry are usually doing it because they don't have another way of expressing this overwhelming emotion," says Henry A. Paul, MD, author of When Kids Are Mad, Not Bad. So the long-term project is to give your kid constructive ways to communicate her feelings. Help her get used to describing her emotions with words or a drawing rather than with a temper tantrum.

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