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My daughter is 5 yrs old. She is a very sweet little girl who normally is very much a people pleaser- she likes to do things that make you happy. However recently she has has issues in school- she told a little boy that her daddy was going to come to school and shoot him (which from my understanding was completely out of the blue as they were not even talking or playing near each other) and today a few weeks later she went up and punched the same boy in the nose.

According to her teacher she is fine with all the other kids and her "behavior in class has improved greatly over the last month or so (meaning following the rules, not talking, staying on task, etc...). My first thought was that there had to be something more to what happened the fist time because that is just not like my daughter to go up and threaten someone, she is a very sweet and loving little girl but now she has punched this kid in the nose for no reason and when I asked her about it she said "I didn't want too, I just did"

I am 14 weeks pregnant and now freaking out that one of two things is going on, neither of which is acceptable- either I'm doing something wrong as a parent- too strict, not strict enough, too much freedom for not enough, not enough "I love you"s or something or I am raising a bad egg and that I refuse to believe but I'm scared

"I didn't want too , I just did".... is it because I'm pregnant? Is she not getting enough attention? Is it because she actually really likes this boy? She is 5 years old and fixing to get herself kicked out of school....

I swear she is not a malicious person and she knew right away that she messed up because she told the kid sorry immediately..... but she is doing things she knows are wrong and I am doing everything I can and trying to take every opportunity to point out good and bad/ right and wrong but apparently it is not doing any good..... and I am at my wit's end on what to do or how to help this from happening again.

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I wouldn't regard a 5 year old as capable of being malicious. They strike out, but without understanding the full consequences of how it may hurt another –  user4784 Oct 24 '13 at 13:42
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4 Answers

Take a deep breath! Your daughter has a lot going on in her little life. As a five-year-old, she must be in a new class, maybe a new school? And you are pregnant. And people are saying unkind thinks to her on the bus. I think she is stressed and she is acting out. While it is not the behavior you would hope for, it is an age-appropriate way to deal with stress. And when she says she doesn't know why, that may well be the truth - the area of the brain that connects actions with consequences is a long way from being developed!

Focus on finding the sources of her stress and trying to relieve them. Spend time together:

  • talk about the things she likes about school
  • invite new school friends around to play
  • talk about the things at school that might be hard
  • tell her stories about when you were a girl and new at school
  • maybe tell her about a time you hurt someone and felt bad about it
  • tell her about a time someone said unkind things to you and what you did about it
  • read books about new babies, let her help you plan the baby's room (maybe she can pick out a new bedspread for herself at the same time)
  • do some of the things you used to do together but haven't done in a while

If you stress out about this, approaching these behaviors with a lot of discipline and too much talking, you may inadvertently add to her stress. There should be consequences for the behaviors, certainly, but try not to let them become central to your relationship - they are only 2 bad behaviors amongst hundreds of good ones!

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Great answer Mary Jo Finch! you just forgot to put "Talk to her about when she was a baby." on your list. They can discuss all the things she needed - and the new baby will need as well as special and cherished memories of firsts, loving moments, all the people that came to visit, sent congratulations and gifts and it becomes an opportunity to remind her that all those people still love her (especially mom). –  balanced mama Oct 24 '13 at 2:50
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I liked Mary Jo's answer very much: children's lives when they start going out into the big world are not stress free. Looking at the specific behavior (saying her daddy would shoot the little boy) I would add one more thing to check: Is it possible a babysitter recently allowed her to watch a (relatively) violent movie/TV show, perhaps as a "secret" between them, and this is her way of trying to deal with the scary/confusing way the characters in the show behaved? And she feels she can't tell you because this was supposed to be a secret?

Even if you never pinpoint the cause, however, don't beat yourself or your kid up over it. Your child is not a bad egg. Children misbehave, if only to find out what their parents' response will be when they do. If you deal with it appropriately -- calm and loving but firm -- she should be reassured.

One more point: If this is your oldest, and she's that good usually, be grateful. It will make your life easier when the next one comes, especially if he/she turns out to be a spitfire!

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I voted for Mary JO Finch's answer, but just wanted to add two quick things to what she is already suggesting.

You might consider asking her why she did it again. Many kids at this age will close up and not share their feelings if they see you are stressed out. So if the initial question was posed right when you were finding out about either incident, when you were at all upset or stressed about anything, or even if you MAY have had a heightened tone of voice, I'd suggest trying again. I know you've been talking about it ever since with her. But talking about it with her and asking her about it are really two totally different things. Asking needs to be calmly done and then followed by a silence for her to fill (you can even let it be silent for minutes before she might answer - she may be sorting out her feelings as well as the words to describe them and her own motivations herself, that can need a lot of time at that age).

Take her out for some mommy/daughter time or mommy/daddy/daughter time, get relaxed over some pizza (or whatever her favorite food is) and calmly ask her if there is something else about the incidences in question she has not already shared that might help you understand what happened better. Re-iterate she can tell you anything because you will always love her no matter what. Make sure your question is as general as my example, If you ask it in a leading way, "did that boy do anything to make you mad?" You indicate you already have possible answers in mind and she is less likely to open up. Give her a single question that allows for any answer. She MAY answer, "I wanted to see if it would get your attention" or she might say, "The boy was mean and I was mad," or any number of other things. She might also just repeat, "I don't know, I just did." Include the idea that she can think about it and tell you if she thinks of anything later too. It is important to be genuinely caring but sort of relaxed and casual about it at the same time. Keep your responses slow, methodical and comtemplative. She might open up and say more.

I also don't know where you live, but in smaller towns where there isn't a lot of exposure to different races and mixed ethnicity kids, the comments on the bus, might be a pretty big clue to what is going on too. Along with your time together, incorporate some geneology. Who are her ancestors? How is she like your favorite aunt? What is one of the funniest stories about a relative from each side of the family? How does she reflect her heritage and why should she be proud of it? What kinds of stories about her anscestors will she be able to share with the baby in a few years? Just, don't make it a lecture, make it a discussion - maybe you can even construct a photo album about it as a project together. Along the way, give her some answers for those kids that will empower her and make her able to laugh at their naive, ill-informed remarks while demonstrating her confidence to those kids on the bus.

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In my opinion, you shouldn't worry too much as long as this is an "isolated" issue. For example, if it happens again;

1) With the same boy : I think there's something going on between those two specifically and I am quite sure you have nothing to do with it, but the conflict has to be resolved with the help of the her teacher.

2) With other kids : This may be more serious than the previous case. I suggest you try to ask her about her feelings on recent changes that might have recently happened at home, at school or elsewhere. Since she is 5, she might be used to a certain amount of attention which she may have lost during the past months. It is up to you to figure it out and seek help with external resources (family, school personnel, etc.), if necessary.

If the fact that you are pregnant is indeed an influence on her behavior, try to implicate her in the the whole story, making her understand that she is part of this (and not excluded or forgotten).

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I wonder if she turning into a bully? or is it refered anger.... she is mixed and some older girls on the bus keep telling her she is adopted .... if this had just been one incident I wouldn't be so concerned but it is the 2nd with the same boy weeks later and lessons of being nice to everyone apparently aren't sticking or why would she have just gone up and punched the kid?..... I have been trying to talk with her since the first incident but all I get is I don't know why..... how do I get her to open and talk with me? –  user4935 Oct 17 '13 at 16:03
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