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Dr. Olsen
Dr. Olsen, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  PsyD Psychologist
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Our first grandson age 3 1/2 behaves for me, but when his mother

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Our first grandson age 3 1/2 behaves for me, but when his mother is around he seems to act out...not listening to her or interupting. Today, my daughter said she thinks I negoiate with him and that other people say he is not behaving appropriately for a boy his age. Some background, their is a new baby in the mix age 6 months, my daughter and her husband are seperated and the boys father has not seen the boys in 5 months. I am firm with our grandson, but I will admit I do feel he needs some extra attention and with an absent father, a mother who works and goes to school I am the most constant caregiver. I don't want to "rock" the boat with my daughter, she has enough on her plate, but I do want to be there for my grandson and don't want other people saying he does not act his age. I would also like to add I have observed our grandson in various group situations and he acts like the rest of the children, listening sometimes and sometimes not. Should I be more firm? I also would like to say I don't believe in spanking. My form of punishment is time out on a "naughty" stool for about 5 minutes after the first warning...like "hitting" or refusing to pick up toys. This works for me, but my daughter said it doesn't work for her.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Olsen replied 2 years ago.
Hi there,
Thank you for writing in JA.
It sounds like your 3 year-old grandson misbehaves towards his mother, while behaving well with you. Perhaps, he may challenge his mother's disciplining more. It's not uncommon for toddlers to behave towards his parents and grandparents differently.

I agree that he may need extra attention from you and his mother as his father has been absent in his life.

In terms of disciplining his behavior, you and your daughter may discuss how to discipline him when he misbehaves and try to discipline him in the same way. I know he doesn't misbehave towards you.
Also, when he misbehaves, you and she may talk to him together about his behavior.

In general, positive reinforcement such as reward and praise may work better for young children than punishment.
You and his mother may continue to communicate rules with him over and over again.
Then, his mother (and you) may reward his good behavior (listening to mother's instructions more often or all day) daily. It may take up two months to work until he understand the reward rule. His mother may keep track of his progress in a notebook. Good rewards may be small treats, an extra bedtime story etc.
She may also "praise" his good behavior daily when he behaves well towards her or shows minimal displays of misbehavior all day.

Additionally, the book "Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child : Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries" by
Robert J. MacKenzie Ed.D. and the book "The Temperament perspective" by Kristal may be helpful to understand his temperament and disciplining strategies.


Please let me know if you have more questions or I have overlooked any. Warm regards,
Dr. Olsen, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2336
Experience: PsyD Psychologist
Dr. Olsen and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. Olsen replied 2 years ago.
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