Dear Savvy Auntie,

My four (almost five) year old niece and I have a super strong bond. She is obedient and all around a good listener. But after she stays with me, or I at her house, she is the opposite with her mom (my sister). Its causing major problems. Though my sister would never sever my bond with my niece, I'm afraid this will limit our visits.

Opposite Auntie

Dear Opposite Auntie,

Children at this age often behave very well in one setting and act up in others. Most of the time this occurs between school and home or in a divorce situation with each parent. Some of the theories: they have to work hard to maintain themselves away from home and then let loose afterwards; they misbehave with the person they feel most secure with; and some developmental issues with the mom (in this case).

It may not be possible to determine the cause or causes, however, there are some possible solutions. I suggest you speak to your sister about one or two specific activities when your niece behaves differently with the two of you. Try to come to an agreement about how you both handle your niece’s behavior.    

Good Luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield


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