Teaching Respect to a 5 Year Old

You know how yesterday, I posted about my boy playing by himself for the first time for two whole hours and life was all good and stuff? Well, yeah, today’s post is titled “Teaching Respect to a 5 Year Old” for a reason. Ugh!

Teaching Respect to a 5 year old

Lately, Howard and I have noticed that Benjamin has been a little sassy and smarty pants and occasionally crosses the line by talking ugly, adding “butt” to everything and just general disrespect. We have been addressing it as it comes up, but not getting very many results. We figured it’s just a phase and he’s testing the waters. We punish him when it comes up and then we have several good days in a row. Yesterday he even told me that he was the only “good” kid in his class when all the others were making his teacher mad. And then he called his daddy a “twerp”…

After the experience that I talked about yesterday (playing by himself for the first time) I had begun to wonder how he was interacting with the other kids at school. We ask him every day about his day and he usually doesn’t want to talk about much and just says “good”. I still had doubts.

You see, my boy is a little immature at times and even though he’s about to be six, it is a little more immature than I expect him to be. I don’t have much to compare him to because he’s an only child and we don’t have any friends with boys his age, but I’m just going on what I’ve seen with other kids his age. He’s silly and playful and loving, which are totally endearing qualities to adults, but other kids don’t get it. They may act silly from time to time, but it’s different than what I see with Benjamin. I’m having difficulty explaining it.

In any case, I emailed his teacher yesterday just to get her view and I was not prepared for her answer. She basically said that she was planning to email me when she saw my email to her. It seems that Benjamin has been having trouble controlling his words and actions when other kids do something that he doesn’t like. In fact, he hit a girl in the stomach yesterday and when asked why, he responded with “she was in my face”.

I know for a fact that the teacher is seeing a scaled down (or maybe not so scaled down) version of what we are seeing at home. My initial email was about whether he was making friends because he was silly, but now I’m worried he isn’t making friends because he’s mean or controlling or just plain disrespectful.

So, the next few weeks in our family is going to be about teaching respect – respect for your parents, respect for your teacher, respect for your friends and classmates. I’m scouring the internet for resources, movies, activities, rewards, and consequences to teach respect. When I get all of this put together, I’ll write another post and let you all  know how things are going for us.

For now, wish me luck, pray for me, and give me all your ideas!

Update: I talked to Benjamin tonight when we got home about respect and he was listening very closely. We talked about what he could have done when the girl was too close to him at school. He wrote sentences (“I will not hit” five times) and did chores (mopped where the dog had an accident in his playroom) and then we just had a quiet, fun evening together. He told me that his brain is wiggly and bothers him sometimes and that was why he did bad things. I suggested that he tell his brain to stop bothering him and let him be sweet Benjamin again. He agreed.


  1. Tara says:

    Thank you for being so transparent. That takes a lot of courage. I almost felt like I was reading a post from me about my son. We’ve been experiencing the same things lately at his school and I had the exact same thoughts you had about your son. I’ve decided to do the exact same thing and make Respect for the rest of the week and the weekend. That’s how I stumbled across this post! I’m encouraged to know I’m not alone. I’m wish we were in the same city, it sounds like our kids could totally keep up with each other! lol. #GreatPost!

  2. Shell says:

    Good luck! It’s difficult b/c some of this is just normal 5 year old behavior (like thinking “butt” is funny). But we have to figure out what is okay and what needs to be addressed.

  3. Robert says:

    Hi Janet. I loved the piece, thanks for sharing?

    I just started a blog called “The Scared Dad” http://www.thescareddad.com, and I’m literally swallowing all the knowledge I can gather before these moments happen to me. You know what they say; knowledge is power! But it’s topics like these that I wish to share with parents (and in my case, expecting parents) because it’s simply amazing how many people think they’re the only ones going through situations like the this.

    Again, I enjoyed this post. And I’m looking forward to reading more. Thanks

    • janet says:

      Robert, thank you for stopping by and I look forward to your advice as well!

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