The 10 arguments you will have with a 5-year-old. And lose.

Five is a magical age.

The “threenager” phase and the “f—ing fours” are (not so) dim memories. Oh, and new mums? Anyone who ever tries to tell you about the terrible twos is lying. Three and four are much worse…so, so much worse.

Five year olds are starting to assert their independence: they can dress themselves…sort of. They can wipe their own butts…not very well, but they get points for effort. Their language and reasoning are evolving and their personalities are really emerging. They are discovering who they are and how they want to navigate the world.

You can have an actual conversation with a 5-year-old. The conversations might not exactly make sense — you might spend half an hour discussing theories on why Goofy can talk but Pluto can’t or trying to answer questions such as “why don’t fish have eyelashes” — but there’s a subtle shift that occurs at five.

It’s the end of babyhood and the beginning of childhood. These are the golden days between nappies and the surly tween years and the onset of eye rolls and the belief that mums are embarrassing.

But have you ever argued with a 5-year-old? They will “but why” you to the brink of insanity.

Have you ever argued with a 5-year-old?

When it comes to arguments you can use clichés like “don’t go to bed mad” or “kiss and make up” but verbal sparring with a 5-year-old is a…well, honestly my words are failing me here. I have two five-year olds — just let that sink in — and I’ve had lots of arguments with them. Although most of these arguments have ended with my small humans doing what I want them to do, I’m not sure if I’ve ever really won.

For instance:

Why the yellow vitamin really isn’t better than the red and purple vitamins.

The yellow vitamin is the most coveted vitamin in my jumbo bottle of gummie vitamins for kids. Since these little nuggets are the golden tickets of chewable supplements for tots, naturally, there are precious few of them in the bottle. I tell the unlucky recipient of the red and purple vitamins that all vitamins are created equal. No one believes me. I have no defense. The people who make those vitamins are assholes, though…that I’m sure of.

Why it’s not okay to lick your brother’s armpit.

You know, I have no good reason on why this isn’t okay. I think we can all agree that armpit-licking isn’t appropriate. But other than “it’s gross” I really can’t come up with a good argument. I can make the armpit-licking stop: yelling and threats are usually involved, not gonna lie. But I don’t think I’ve ever convinced either of my kids why pit-licking isn’t acceptable behaviour in our house.


Why they shouldn’t cry about the pattern on their pillowcase.

Have you ever had to deal with a kid who is sobbing because he’s resting his overly tired 5-year-old head on a plain cotton pillow case? You will never convince this child that dinosaur or spaceship patterned bed linen is not superior.

If this happens, just give in and change the damn pillowcase. It might seem like you’re coddling your kid, but just trust me on this one. Because if your bedtime has escalated to this point…you’re just screwed.

Debate over the existence of closet monsters.

Or under the bed monsters or monsters in general. You can say “there’s no such thing as real monsters, darling” until you’re as blue in the face as Cookie Monster. Your child will eventually go to sleep and may even stop yapping about monsters, but you are not going to win this debate. This is something a kid has to come to on their own.

arguing with your child.
Image via Ripped Jeans and Bifocals.

Why they don’t like a certain food.

“But honey, you liked Chicken A La King yesterday…and last week…and every day of your life since you grew teeth.”

Don’t even bother. When a kid says they don’t like something, no words from you are going to convince them otherwise. You might get them to eat the Chicken A La King or the broccoli or whatever they’ve suddenly decided they hate but people, the palate of a 5-year-old is strange thing.


The mystery of crusts.

Sandwich crusts are either highly offensive or highly coveted. You will always get it wrong.

Anything having to do with idioms.

“It costs and arm and a leg.”

“That’s a piece of cake.”

Five-year-olds don’t grasp the use of idioms. If you try to explain how something is a piece of cake when a child isn’t actually going to get a piece of cake, he will cross examine you like a pro and you’ll find yourself talking in circles until you’re ready to cut someone.

“If you try to explain how something is a piece of cake when a child isn’t actually going to get a piece of cake, he will cross examine you like a pro and you’ll find yourself talking in circles until you’re ready to cut someone.”

Why everything isn’t a weapon.

I was one of those mums who swore I wouldn’t buy my kids toy guns. I shudder to think how many Nerf weapons are in my house at this very moment. It’s a lot.

I don’t know if it’s a boy thing or not, but here are some things my kids have weaponised: Legos, toothbrushes, stuffed animals, hot dog buns, coupons. Yes, coupons. Don’t ask. When I try to patiently explain why whatever object they’re hitting each other with is not a weapon, I get the “woman what are you talking about” look. I might be able to temporarily disarm them, but I have so far failed at convincing them that any household object shouldn’t become a weapon.

Fingers versus spoon.

You eat certain foods with your fingers and certain foods with utensils. Have you ever tried to explain to a small child why it’s okay to eat bacon with your fingers but sausage must be eaten with a fork? That’s a hard argument to win.

Why they should just effing go back to bed at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings.

This is a law of the universe, I guess. Children who are difficult to rouse on a school day are raring to go at 6:00 on a Saturday. Why is this and how can we effectively argue our point so they will get it and let us sleep just a little bit longer?

Arguments with 5-year-olds are unwinnable. Getting them to behave as you want them to – eating with a fork or to stop constructing their Legos into the shape of a pistol – isn’t really winning. We’re the grownups and because we’re in charge, we’re able to influence (and sometimes force) their behaviour but after going ten rounds with my kids about pillow case patterns or the existence of monsters, I am beat down.

Winner or not, us parents should get a medal for some of these arguments, right?

This article was originally published on Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. It has been republished here with full permission. You can follow Jill on Facebook here.