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Need Advice

My son (almost 3) is a holy terror whenever we visit my mom. It's almost amazing the transformation he goes through each and every time we visit her. She refuses to reprimand or discipline him for any reason, and it's like he knows just how much he can get away with when he's there. She does not babysit him, so I am always there, and I'm shocked and embarrased at the little monster he becomes.

I know it is most certainly my job to discipline him -- she has already raised her children and should not be expected to do the same with mine. But when we visit my in-laws and if DS tries to pull something, it's amazing how far a few simple, "No, dear, we don't do that here" will go. I don't know why, but DS does things he would never do at home or anywhere else for that matter.

For example, my mom keeps some magnets on her fridge that he loves to play with (as we do at home). DS decided to take all of and fling them off the fridge, scattering them in the air and breaking some. I took away the magnets and put him in timeout -- he could care less. It's like the timeouts have no effect on him, whereas they're very useful at home.

When he was put in a timeout because he refused to stop throwing a ball against my mom's sliding glass door (we were outside), we took away the ball and put him in a timeout for not listening. He told us that we're not his friends and that grandma is his friend -- shocking, I know! She stares at him sadly when he's in timeout and sympathizes with him even though I've told her to please not talk to him while he's in timeout. Of course, he goes running to her for hugs when he's allowed to get out.

Another example is that she doesn't want him going upstairs, so we use a baby gate to remind him he can't go up there. Although we do the SAME exact thing at the in-laws, DS thinks it's fine if he pulls the gate down and climbs upstairs. He never tries this at home or at my in-laws, and the timeouts don't faze him -- he just tries it again later.

I'm seriously mortified by the way my child acts when we are there or when we spend time with my mother. That side of the family must think he is a rotten kid because he's always like that, and I can't figure out how to reign him in. He's generally a really good kid (he's almost 3 so he does have his moments at home, of course), but it's like someone replaced my child with a monster when we're with her. If he acted the way he does with my mom all of the time, I would be seriously considering a behavior consultation.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. After our last visit, I'm at the end of my rope. We left at 6:30 in the morning right after DS woke up because I didn't have the energy to run around after him, saying, "No, no, no!"

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Re: Need Advice

  • imoanimoan member
    10000 Comments Eighth Anniversary
    I'm still not quite sure why it's your mother's fault that your DS is acting like an azz.
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  • image imoan:
    I'm still not quite sure why it's your mother's fault that your DS is acting like an azz.

    It's definitely not my mother's fault that my DS is acting like this -- it's completely my fault, and I know this. I'm just at a loss on what to do.

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  • Looks like it's time for time-outs at home, but beatings at Grandma's.
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  • How often does your DS see your mom and spend time at her house?  If it's not very often, he's probably responding to the newness and novelty of it.

    My DS has been an absolute terror the few times we've visited my friend and her daughter. And he's way more crazy than usual whenever we visit my parents.  But we don't go to either place often and he doesn't see those people often. 

    There's not much that I think you can do.  Either visit more often so that the novelty wears off, or expect him to act out and discipline appropriately. 

    Oh - and my parents do the same thing when DS is in time-out.  I've taken him to another room to do time-out.  It's easier that way. 

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  • I have a niece that is like this at her Grandma's house.  The problem is that Grandma continues to undermine her parent's attempts to discipline her, and doesn't impose her own limitations.  Her parents put her in time out, Grandma comes to the rescue.  She climbs onto the counter tops and jumps around on the furniture (at 8 years old), Grandma gets flustered and says "Now why would you do that!?" and just walks off.  My niece is a much different child when Grandma isn't there. 

    Personally I think the only real solution is to remove the child from the situation.  If little Johnny is throwing magnets (or throwing a ball, or climbing over a baby gate), give him a warning "If you don't stop that we are going home/leaving" and if he continues pick him up and take him home.  Do it each and every time, and don't give in if your Mom starts with the "You don't have to go, he isn't doing anything that bad."  Be 100% consistent, and tell her that you will continue to do this until Johnny behaves appropriately at her home.  It will probably encourage her to expect better behavior out of him.  (It sounds like your Mom might live out of town.  If this is the case, rent a hotel room and go back to the hotel rather than back home.  Wait an appropriate amount of time, then go back to your Mom's)

  • We do live out of town -- about 3 hours away and she lives in a ritzy area where hotels cost big $$$ and aren't really an option. Maybe we can put him in the car and threaten to go home? But I don't want that to become an empty threat that he figures out very quickly. We go see her about once a month, usually for 1 or 2 nights.

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  • When he has time out he should be in an area where you can keep an eye on him, but he can't see you.  He shouldn't be able to see her looking at him when he is in time out.  And when time out is done he should come and apologize to everyone, not run to grandma.  Go to his time out area, take his hand firmly, bring him into the room, and have him apologize to everyone.  Even if he is only repeating after you.  And do not allow him to run to Grandma even when he is done with this.  Start him right back into playing when after he apologizes.  Her snuggling him after bad behavior is a reward to him.

    How far is her house from yours?  Perhaps you need just start leaving when he gets out of control.  Tell him when you arrive and often after you get there that bad behavior will result in his needing to leave.  And to start with you could have rewards for good behavior.  But rely on those only for a short time to start to get things under control when you go to her house.  Phase those out after a few visits.

    And if she isn't supporting your discipline attempts and is making matters worse by sympathizing with him (looking at him while in time out, talking to him in time out and letting him run to her after time out) then you do need to talk to her about it.  While it isn't her job to discipline him it is her job to support you and not undermine your attempts to control him.

    I've run into similar circumstances with my DH's family.  Because they are Asian and the parents feel that they must respect the older generation they often let the children get out of control because they don't want to offend by correcting the older generations treatment of the kids.  DH's nephew is also completely out of control (and somewhat of a bully to our DD) at IL's house.  Because his mother doesn't want to offend MIL or FIL by asserting control over her own kid. 

    He's now almost 7.  Trust me, you need to stop this ASAP.  And I know you can.  If you need the guidance pick up a book on discipline to read.  Just because it only happens in one place doesn't mean that the information would not apply.

  • image august06mom:

    We do live out of town -- about 3 hours away and she lives in a ritzy area where hotels cost big $$$ and aren't really an option. Maybe we can put him in the car and threaten to go home? But I don't want that to become an empty threat that he figures out very quickly. We go see her about once a month, usually for 1 or 2 nights.

    I know it would be a PITA, but you may find that you actually need to leave 1 or 2 times and go home.  Rather than just threaten him with it.  Then he'll know you're serious and next time it happens you can remind him of his early departure.

  • Are you different than usual when you're at your mom's? He could be feeding off of what you're putting out there. Are you more distracted trying to visit so you can't head off his interests before they start & distract him the way that you would at home?

    Have you considered not doing your 'sitting' visiting at your mom's actual house? You can be there and stay there, but what about walking him to the nearest playground for an hour or two and wearing his butt out before you expect him to be all angelic at grandma's?

  • image august06mom:

    But I don't want that to become an empty threat that he figures out very quickly.

    Definitely DON'T do empty threats.  Don't tell him that you all will have to go home unless you will actually pack up and leave if he misbehaves again.

    My parents only live 2 hours away, but we never stay the night.  I think that would be too draining on everyone.  I don't know about your son, but mine is in a pretty consistent routine - his temperment and behavior totally changes when he gets out of that routine.  It still happens sometimes.........but I know ahead of time that I'm going to be dealing with a monster and I prepare myself for it.  If it's a change from his normal routine AND we're in a relatively unfamiliar place, I know he's going to be a hell on two feet and that I'll be shadowing him and disciplining him constantly.

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  • GBCKGBCK member
    Ancient Membership Combo Breaker
    image Maybride2:
    image august06mom:

    But I don't want that to become an empty threat that he figures out very quickly.

    Definitely DON'T do empty threats.  Don't tell him that you all will have to go home unless you will actually pack up and leave if he misbehaves again.constantly.

     

    Yep.  I"ll ditto a lot of what's been said...but why do you have to go home?

    Kid does something bratty.  You say "that's not how little boys behave at their grandma's house.  You can't be in grandma's house behaving like that", pick him up, plop him in the back seat of the car and sit in the front seat with a book and completely ignore him for the amount of time that makes an appropriate time out.  (bonus, no sympathy from grandma in the meantime)

    Before he gets to go back in, you clarify what he did wrong that he isn't allowed to do again.  Then go back.  Make it a 3 strikes and you drive his azz back home policy.  Or whatever is a pproorpiate for you folks.

  • image august06mom:

    She stares at him sadly when he's in timeout and sympathizes with him even though I've told her to please not talk to him while he's in timeout. Of course, he goes running to her for hugs when he's allowed to get out.

    This stands out to me.  I don't have kids yet, but this would make me very angry if I were disciplining my child and grandma was standing there undermining me.  If it were me, I would speak firmly with my mother about this.

  • I think you have to kick up the consequences above and beyond what is needed at your home and your IL's home.  Big time.

    And I think that he picks-up that you defer to your mom and sees her as the boss ... so he sees her that way ... which leaves you on the same level as him., not an authority at all.

    My darling daughter just turned 4 years old.
  • Not only does your little boy need consequences so too does your mother.

    The time-out is no consequence at Grandma's because she interacts with him and then snuggles him so he gets lot of attention for his bad behaviour.

    Grandma isn't going to tell him off because when you do it she gets to be the "good guy" and gets the rewards of him rushing to her for a hug.

    They both need to learn that bad behaviour means that you are leaving. Tough luck if Grandma doesn't like it. Because she is not supporting you and is actively undermining you. If it's too much of a hassle visiting her because of how she behaves then maybe you only visit her once every two months.

    You are the parent. Your rules top everything else. She gets to be cool grandma as long as he behaves.

    Imagine this behaviour as he gets older. 

     

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  • image GBCK:

    Yep.  I"ll ditto a lot of what's been said...but why do you have to go home?

    Kid does something bratty.  You say "that's not how little boys behave at their grandma's house.  You can't be in grandma's house behaving like that", pick him up, plop him in the back seat of the car and sit in the front seat with a book and completely ignore him for the amount of time that makes an appropriate time out.  (bonus, no sympathy from grandma in the meantime)

    Before he gets to go back in, you clarify what he did wrong that he isn't allowed to do again.  Then go back.  Make it a 3 strikes and you drive his azz back home policy.  Or whatever is a pproorpiate for you folks.

    My thoughts on removing the child from the situation are this - Grandmother undermines all attempts to discipline the child, and since we can't make Grandma leave her own home, we have to remove the child from the situation.  As the child wants to spend time with GMa, the child will learn that if he misbehaves he doesn't get what he wants.  As GMa wants to spend time with her grandchild she will try to exert more discipline on the child so he doesn't misbehave and have to go home.    

  • based on experience, i could say that grandmothers tend to spoil their grandchildren especially if it is their first. is your child her first grandchild? she may not be the cause of that untolerable behavior but it is not impossible.

    image 

  • Your son is acting this way simply because he knows he can get away with it at your mother's.  I know this sounds bad, but young children resemble dogs in a way.  (Not saying they are by any means.)  The reason I say this; our first dog, Hershey, is very very well behaved lab mix.  However, when my mom comes over to visit, he goes nuts.  Jumping on the sofas, TV trays, knocking things over - completely crazy.  When we scold him and correct him, mom gets upset and completely goes against our judgement and discipline.  She feels sorry for him, talks to him in a soothing voice and pities him.  A lot similar to how your mother treats your son when you correct him.  He knows that it's grandma's house.  He knows that even though he is going against you, his grandma isn't the one scolding him in her house and when he is breaking her things.  He senses weakness in a sense of "grandma feels sorry for me" and is going to see how far he can push authority.

     I would set boundaries and rules with your mother, first off.  Let her know either she respects your authority when it comes to your son and her grandson, or time will be limited when they see each other.  She has to be on the same page as you, otherwise - he'll continue to see how much he can get away with.  Have your mother set boundaries with him and have her put him in time out when he is disrespectful of her things or crosses her boundaries.  He should stop acting that way with a little bit of time and work from your mother.

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