I Wasn’t Smarter Than a Five Year Old – Part 2

This is Part 2 of a multi-part post. You might want to read Part 1 so you are fully in tune with this difficult situation. I’m sharing our story hoping you might benefit from this, and know you are not alone raising a difficult child.

The amount of resentment I had stored up against my husband was getting the best of me, and was probably the main motivation behind my effort to find guidance to deal with our willful child. I didn’t have access to the Internet back in 1997-98, and still relied on word-of-mouth recommendations,  wives-tales and the library (remember those?) to get a handle on our child’s “misbehavior”.  Needless to say, most of the advise I got was related to spoiling her; don’t let her get away with it, put her in a time out, etc.

Though these sounded like tried and true methods of disciplining a child, I knew I had something bigger to wrestle with, and besides, I had tried the go-to methods without success. In fact, it was shocking to see how long the tiny body of a-then-3 year old could cry non-stop; she seemed tireless when it came to trying to get her way, something I was not. I knew the spoiling comments were based on how I reacted to her tantrums in public; I simply gave her the candy, coloring book or drink she wanted to get her to shut up!

Of course, this tactic only partially worked because as she kept pushing the limits of my patience, she demanded more things, and that’s when the battle of wills would set in. It came down to who could hold out the longest; her crying in public or me standing by and watching her kick and scream, then dragging her to the car and abruptly ending our outing. This worked…sometimes.

child being difficult


I hated doing this, especially when it happened while my parents or mother-in-law were with us. Yes, the worst was with my mother-in-law who would visit us for two weeks at a time and who had very antiquated ideas about disciplining a child. Unfortunately, she witnessed one of the worst meltdowns my child had in her days as a difficult child right at the cash register at Target.

While waiting to pay for some items at our favorite store (and claiming victory because the kid hadn’t pulled her stunts for a whole hour of shopping) we approached the cash register where she spotted a box of Fruit Roll Ups. The whining began and I thought: “Oh, I’ll open the box and give her one, that’ll keep her quiet”.


As soon as she saw the “pot o’ gold” inside the box she wanted them all – unwrapped and in her mouth!

Oh, boy! All hell broke loose!

The flailing body, the piercing screams, the endless mucus streaming from her face, it was dreadfully embarrassing. I asked my mother-in-law to please pay for the items while I took the possessed kid to the car, but instead she offered to take her. I was surprised, but actually grateful she did this, because I was ready to let this kid have it right then and there (and she was probably trying to save her from my wrath!).

As she walked out with the unruly child in toe, I tried to look calm while paying for my purchases, but my breathing was fast and my color a darkest hue of Target red.

Once all paid up, the woman at the register said: “Wow, I can’t believe you are this calm. I would have not been able to do it.”

“Well, with cameras all around, I just can’t ‘discipline’ my child in public,” I replied.

She then said, “I think a judge will have to discipline kids if we can’t do as we see fit for our own children.”

Oh, how agreed with her, and instantly recalled how my parents used the old fashion way of discipline: The “B” word – Belt.

Since this method was now considered obsolete, I turned to the other big B word: Books!

The two books I got, Raising a Difficult Child and Six-Point Plan To Raising Happy, Healthy Children, gave me the solace I was seeking. First, reading an exact description of my child was not only astounding, it gave me hope.  Plus, finding that my better half wasn’t the only pliable dad out there, confirmed my suspicions while giving me the how-to to get my yielding husband on board to implement the harsh disciplining methods without landing us in the Loony bin.

In a quiet moment at the Cheesecake Factory in San Francisco, I whipped out my secret weapon and sprung it on my unsuspecting husband.

Difficult Child has a very short questionnaire for both parents to answer regarding your child’s temperament.

Do You Have A Difficult Child?

Rate your child’s temperament from 0 to 3 in each of the following categories: 0 = No Problem, 3 = Extreme Problem (nearly always or always). Detailed descriptions follow each heading, but due to space and time I’ll only list the areas in the book:

·         High Activity Level

·         Impulsivity

·         Distractibility

·         High Intensity

·         Negative Persistence

·         Low Sensory Threshold

·         Initial Withdrawal

·         Poor Adaptability

·         Negative Mood

4-7 Points = Some Difficult features

8-14 = Difficult Child

+ 15 or more points = Very Difficult Child

We scored a 12 = Difficult child (can’t imagine there’d be a worst behaving child, but alas, there is!)

My husband’s mouth was agape when he read detailed examples of the behaviors I could only tell him about (and he would disbelieve) coming from his little princess.

Suddenly, and after a few glasses of champagne, we both realized we had to unite and conquer.


To be continued…


  1. Anonymous says:

    I am in awe of your ability to hold it together during what sounds like a very difficult period of time. I Look forward to reading more!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jenniffer,
    Can't say it didn't take every ounce of restraint I could muster in these situations!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I give you credit for trying to get to the root of the issue. Sometimes, it seems easier to keep going without changing behavior – thinking that it is just a phase. I am even more impressed by the partnership with your hubby to work it out. I am sure the champagne helped 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    hola señora valle,
    haha. es bianca de la que hablá aquí? no lo puedo creer. pues parese que todo sirvio muy bien. 🙂 ahoria mi familia esta en las misma situaciones con mi hermanita. ya pronto estará en sus “terrible twos” y pues ya le esta llegando su tiempo demasiado rapido. si yo me desespero aveces, ahora me puedo imajinar todas las mamás en el mundo que han tenido que tener MUCHA pasiencia con los hijos e hijas “dificiles.” incluyendome a mi. xD

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hola Joselyn,
    Glad to see you here! I know, huh? Seeing the absolutly increadible person Bianca is today, confident, studious, competitive, compassionate and so loving makes it difficult to imagine she had her terrible 2s, 5s and 7s! If you see any of these traits in your little sister, maybe you could mention the books to your mom, they really helped us out. The one key thing is for both parents to be firm in their resolve when the child is in tantrum mode – just let her cry it out, hopefully at home.
    Now, with a teeanger things are a little different, but the premise is the same, parents need to unite, talk with you, and if no compromise with the problem is reached, then hopefully you understand that a NO is out of love and only for your own benefit – and sometimes could even save you from many other problems in the future.
    One of the book's (Six Points) was translated and the title in Spanish is my favorite: “Porque lo Mando Yo!” (Because I Say So!). I agree, this response is sometimes the only one a parent needs to give. Hahah!
    Les mando abrazos a todos!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Champagne at 10 AM sure smoothes things out;)

  7. Anonymous says:

    jaja si las cosas se estan poniendo grave con mi hermanita!! hehe xD ii psz de mi no estoy ablando de ahorita yo estaba ablando de cuando estaba mas chiquita.. 🙂
    ii psz yo tambien les mando mucho saludos a todos… kuidese.

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