No one wants to feel powerless. In fact, this notion can be quite debilitating, causing emotions like fear and anger to bubble up. What is important to note is that helplessness in young kids is normally triggered by times of transition. If your 5-year-old wants to control everything, it is likely because they want to feel secure in a period where lots of changes are occurring.
Dealing with this issue will require you to think in a new approach because you need to remember that a 5-year-old is still getting accustomed to many social norms and they still fully don’t what control really is. With that being said, here are some of the top techniques to establishing your role as the decision-maker while still giving your child the illusion of having the power.
Steps To Take When Dealing With A Controlling 5-Year-Old
1. Be Patient
Nothing will ever be accomplished if you lose your cool with your 5-year-old. If a temper tantrum arises when your child doesn’t get their way, pause, take a deep breath, and then address the issue. While you may not win this battle, you prevent it from escalating by staying calm.
Also, keep in mind that every scenario is different and this may be your preschooler’s first time experiencing an event. This can be overwhelming and stressful. Thus, always take a step back before jumping to a conclusion or a punishment.
2. Implement Active Listening
Occasionally, the need for control is directly related to the need to be heard. Many times, we unintentionally talk down to our children because, to put it frankly, they are literally below us.
Active listening is a technique that focuses the attention on the person doing the speaking with the goal of establishing trust and providing support.
The first step to effectively conduct active listening is to remove any distractions. Go to a quiet space in your home or an empty aisle in the grocery store. Next, get down to their level and make direct eye contact. Then, let them say their piece, without any interruptions. Finally, rephrase what they said, acknowledge their feelings and give them a retort.
Remember that this is not an argument. Therefore, use positive language when reinforcing rules and what will happen next. If you regularly use this method of communication, your toddler is less likely to yell and more prone to learn and respect the rules of conversation.
3. Give Them A Choice
Before the power struggle even begins, get in the habit of letting your preschooler have some decision-making power in a controlled fashion. This means that at lunchtime, let them choose which fruit they want to eat. At the grocery store, allow them to pick one healthy snack to bring home. If you are going on a Saturday outing, ask them which activity they want to do most.
The key detail in this scenario is that you control what options they choose from while giving them the final say. Keep in mind that toddlers and preschool aged kids can only handle so much, so limit their selections — two or three options are best!
4. Find Times To Focus On Them
At some point in the day, we all need a little undivided attention. By allotting a set period of time each day to dedicate solely to your 5-year-old, the number of outbursts are likely to decrease. Why? Children thrive off of two things — attention and schedules.
This gives them both! Find an activity that they enjoy, where they hold a little of the power. The best way to ensure that this is effective is to choose a pursuit that involves being active or creative. This can include pastimes like riding bikes, going to the playground, playing in the sandbox, or engaging in arts and crafts. By giving them opportunities to make their own decisions, you fulfill this need to hold all of the power, in a constructive manner.
5. Set Rules
The 5-year-old who wants to control everything needs to understand that in your household, and in society, there are rules that need to be followed whether we like it or not. Critical thinking begins as early as the age of two, so it is imperative that you explain why these restrictions are in place.
Guidelines that teach humility and respect are extremely important lessons. Help them to understand the significance of saying that they are sorry and why they should admit when they are wrong. Moreover, don’t forget the Golden Rule — treat others the way you want to be treated. Clearly and regularly explain the rules of your home because repetition is imperative in ensuring that these guidelines soak in.
6. Be A Good Role Model
Kids are like parrots. They mimic everything they see and hear.
Therefore, when you act out, they interpret this action as something that is allowed. How you react to situations, the manner in which you ask people for help, and the ways that you express gratitude show your kids the appropriate method of how to act.
Remember that they are ALWAYS watching and listening. Be the person that you want your children to become! Additionally, surround yourself with positive and uplifting people.
A great way you as a mother can get into that mindset is to watch programming or read books that send a beneficial message. These are all factors that will make a big impact on your little one’s actions.
7. Build Their Confidence
Self-doubt can also trigger the need for control. This can be easily resolved by constantly being the person in their corner.
When your child accomplishes something big in school or when they show small moments of kindness or gratitude, acknowledge their acts! Tell them that you are proud of them and that you love them regularly. This validation increases their self-esteem and improves their self-worth.
This is a very important thing to do because your kids will benefit with having great self confidence as they go on in life. They will achieve better results in school, relationships, and fitness if their self confidences is boosted at a young age.
8. Prepare Them For Change
Change is jarring for anyone, no matter if it is big or small. Whether it is moving to a new house, changing schools, or if getting divorced, it is important to take steps to be ready for change when life takes a turn.
Young kids can have trouble appropriately expressing their emotions so engaging with them about their feelings can be instrumental in maintaining their mental health. It can also lessen their need to take control in these moments of stress.
9. Teach Them New Skills
Give your child the control they crave by providing them with the tools they need to complete tasks by themselves! Teach them to ride a bike and how to brush their teeth. Instruct them on how many scoops of food their pup needs and let them take control of feeding them every day. These are necessary life skills that will make the 5-year-old feel some type of control over his reality.
As mentioned before, make sure that you are complimenting them and giving them praises occasionally to build their self-esteem even more. This will build the confidence in them to strive for higher skills and they will want to take on more challenges.
10. Stay Firm On Punishments
Never let your words lose their meaning. If you say a punishment will occur, then follow through with that threat. If children know that they can push your buttons and get you to give in, they will continue with the behavior.
Therefore, when your child disobeys you or acts out, give them one chance to change their tune. If this doesn’t occur, then dole out a punishment. As mentioned before, kids are perceptive and they recognize patterns.
Cause and effect are very literal in a child’s mind, so repetition is key when solidifying rules and consequences. When your little one tries to fight you for power, be firm and confident when responding to the behavior. Finally, give them the power they want at this moment — to choose to behave or to be disciplined for their actions.
If your 5-year-old wants to control everything, you will have to take appropriate steps to solve this problem. It can be tough when all you want to do is pick up some groceries but your young one is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the store because they want candy.
Many parents deal with this situation so you are not alone. The way to solve this requires you to think critically, have patience, and give a special type of attention to the 5-year-old. At the end of the day, all the 5-year-old wants is some attention when trying to control a situation so with that in mind, dealing with this problem requires less of you yelling and more of you descaling the situation.
Many parents think that flat-out yelling right away is the answer but they don’t realize that these kids will remember these moments as they grow up. The correct way to deal with this is by being calm and trying to create a teaching moment for the child. If you think you have a problem with controlling your yelling, here are some ways to stop yelling at your kids.