After Moving in With In-Laws, My Four-Year-Old Is Out of Control!

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"So we recently moved in with my in-laws and my 4-year-old has been out of control, she deliberately screams to try getting my mil attention, she tattletales on us and lies about it, for example, we went to the park today and she had to poop so I told her we had to leave bc the park bathrooms are locked) well she started crying I told her we will come back tomorrow but you need to use the bathroom so we have to leave….. we’ll we get home and she is acting a fool screaming, crying, and then goes in the kitchen where my mil is hiding telling her that we wouldn’t take her to the park and started screaming and has cried for like 45 minutes now since we have moved in she has had a bad attitude… back talks, rolls her eyes, like I seriously don’t know what to do but it makes my mil mad at both me and my husband bc she thinks we gang up on her and that we don’t treat my 2 year old the same but literally my 4-year-old doesn’t listen to anything, we have to yell at her for her to take us seriously, anyone have advice or dealt with something similar?"

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The following top answers have been selected by a moderator from hundreds of responses to the original question.

"Sudden changes tend to affect children more than adults sometimes… Your emotions and feelings may be affected by this change in environment when you move out. Did he act like this before he moved? Keep that in mind. However, you cannot allow them to become something that you cannot control later. You should try to control the situation and establish some limits or rules … If the situation continues or worsens, seeking help from a professional would be the best."

"Sounds like she’s having a rebellious phase… maybe the stress of moving and having to share a house with more people. If she starts to lie, i would correct her and say things like “that is not what I said, i said we could go back to the park tomorrow and we had to come home because you needed the bathroom. We can always go back.” The tantrums, i would say "you know you are misbehaving right now and that this is not acceptable. You need to behave yourself or there will be consequences. Take away privileges if she continues to misbehave and stick to your guns. She needs ground rules and discipline so she knows YOU are in charge and she can’t be running around having an attitude like that."

"My son acted different when I moved back home with my parents when he was 2. It was almost as if my authority was no longer valid. My parents didn’t spoil him or anything like that but I guess he understood they were “higher in rank” so to speak"

"Ya move out, this is what any kid this age will do around grandparents"

"Sounds like she is a little 4-year-old girl trying to adjust and cope with this new move-in. Children don’t process or regulate their emotions how an adult should/can. She is probably overwhelmed by the new move and is also probably seeing what limits and boundaries she can push with ALL of you. I definitely say a form of time out or maybe sitting down and conversing (if she can) might help but yelling back won’t help and being a strict punishing parent won’t solve the problem either. This is about regulating and getting this child comfortable again after a big change in a little 4yr old girl life"

"I think having a talk with your MIL and working as a team, for the greater good if your child is best. It’s not all the MIL . You both need to agree to be a united frobt. It’s when the child sees differences in the way the rules are the start to run the show. I’m sure it’s hard on everyone, communication is key not blaming you're saying she told on you leads me to believe you give power to your MIL's opinion. Next time act as if your child did not even tell your MIL, and your MIL should support what you do. Period, unless it’s abusive. Yelling is not good for having peace in your home. Please don’t make your situation us against MIL. You are in her home, respect from all sides will be key. The child can feel animosity I pray you all can work it out for your sake as well as your child’s ."

"It sounds like your 4 year olds feeling of security and routine have been messed up by the change. I would suggest common activities with Mil, you and your child. Create a secure bond where she can’t play the two of you against each other. I know it doesn’t make a lot of conscious sense but your 4 year old is re-enacting her feelings of being upset and insecure and trying her best to be in control. She doesn’t have the cognitive ability to know or explain how the change has affected her. Also, there is representation through her behavior questioning which adult is Alpha and really in charge. And also she is simply just being 4 testing the waters of what she can get away with."

"Let her know it’s ok to get frustrated. A lot of times kids don’t know how to react to their feelings so they explode. Some ways to work on that is being positive and showing her different ways to cope with anger, frustration. Get self-help books for her age. Maybe count to 10, let her know it’s ok to be upset but talk about different ways you both could solve the problem. Don’t go back on your word, if you say anything to her, do what you say or your word will mean nothing to her. But definitely go to the library maybe take her too, check out books together and read together."

"Redirect her. Take her to another room. Tell her you’re sorry she’s sad right now, but tomorrow is another day, and pull out a fav book, toy, movie. Set her up with a snack and fav blanket. She’s 4, she’s still learning to process. She doesn’t have adult coping skills. At 4, leaving the park early was probably a big deal."

"She’s doing it for the reaction of your mil. She needs your mil to call her out for the lies, and to see your mil support you in your parenting decisions, even the ones she disagrees with. You are the parents. Grandma’s are fun."

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