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Dr. Sylvia Rimm


Great-Grandmother Worries About Family Standards Q: I am a 78-year-old mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I recently learned that I will be a great-grandmother again, through my 21-year-old granddaughter is not married, has only a part-time job, no career direction or ambition, and still …Read more. There Is Hope For 4-Year-Old Q: My niece and her ex-husband share joint custody of their very intelligent and very stubborn 4-year-old daughter. While my niece very tries very hard to set boundaries and consistent discipline for her daughter, her efforts are sabotaged by the ex-…Read more. Capable Preschooler Refuses to Talk Q. My 4 1/2-year-old son refuses to speak to other adults when his father or I are present. He talks to his teachers while at preschool, his friends and parents of his friends. He's very intelligent and knows all his letter sounds and how to read …Read more. Daughter Competes With Mom Q: What can you do when your daughter competes against you instead of seeing you as the role model? She often accuses me of being "perfect." A: I don't know for sure what is causing the competition between you and your daughter, so I'm only making …Read more.
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Child Is Too Attached


Q. My nephew lives with his father (my brother) and my aunt Monday through Friday, and with his mother on weekends. My aunt takes care of him for my brother. When she tries to leave him with me, he cries. He's very attached to her and prefers her even to his own parents. If he cries, she won't leave him with any family member, even for a moment. I don't think this is good for him. What do you think?

A. Your aunt is probably doing a great job taking care of your brother's child, so I don't want to be too critical of her. I don't know your nephew's age, but very young children often cry when a parent or caretaker leaves. They usually stop within a few minutes if the person leaving doesn't come back to their cries and the new person caring for them is loving and kind.

Learning to separate is good for children and part of normal maturation. It's wonderful that your nephew loves your aunt so much, and I'm sure she's very conscientious and loving. Perhaps this letter will help her to know it's all right for her to leave his side so that he can learn to trust others who also care about him.

For a free newsletter about raising preschoolers, send a large, self-addressed, stamped envelope to P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI 53094, or go to for more parenting information.

Sad Future For Abused Grandchild

Q. Please tell me what psychological impact you believe the following situation will have on our 3-year-old grandson. His mother drinks and does drugs in front of him. They recently lived with us for 6 months, and she stayed out nights and slept all day, leaving him to wander the house in dangerous situations, feeding him candy, cookies or just milk all day because she was passed out and could barely get out of bed.

Since Christmas, when he witnessed his maternal grandma beat his mother, he has begun hitting, kicking and punching nearly every adult he meets.

He told his grandpa he was going to "cut him with a knife." He has horrible nightmares and wakes up screaming and crying. He tells us we're mean and bad. I reported this to children's services, but his mother has since taken off with him, and I fear for his mental and physical safety.

A. If you're accurately describing this poor child's environment, it is unlikely he'll grow up to be normal unless things change. You should again report the problem to children's services. Drugs and alcohol seriously distort reality, and no doubt this mother will continue to run away until found.

Sometimes druggies "hit bottom," get help and change their paths. If this mother does, a preschooler who's had such terrible care can also recover, although recovery will take time and secure love. If the child is temporarily taken away from his mother, it may awaken a new sense of responsibility in her. This child needs rescue, and the child's mother needs serious alcohol and drug rehabilitation, in addition to general and parenting counseling.

For free newsletters about grandparenting do's and don'ts, preventing violence, or principles of parenting, send a large, self-addressed, stamped envelope to P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI 53094, or read "Grandparenting Do's and Don'ts" at

Dr. Sylvia B. Rimm is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the author of many books on parenting. More information on raising kids is available at Please send questions to: Sylvia B. Rimm on Raising Kids, P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI 53094 or To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



10 Comments | Post Comment
My 4 year old daughter is attached to my mother so much that she doesn't want to live with us. I know it is our fault because I was a scared when she was first born. What I need to know is How do I fix the problem without breaking my parents heart and having my daughter sneak to get the phone to call them to come get her? She has even asked if they could adopt her.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Jen
Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:24 PM
My 3.5 yr old daughter refuses to leave me when I drop her at the nursery. She has been going to this nursery for the last 2 yrs and most of the times, I had trouble in dropping her. She goes to pre school now and it gets very embarrassing when she refuses to leave me and doesn't show interest in any of the activities at that time. Her teachers try to talk to her but nothing seems to be working. Could it be because she is tired of going there and needs a break? She is generally a shy child and plays with only one or two children in the group. I am not really sure how to deal with it. I know she doesn't eat well at the nursery but even at home she is a fussy eater. I don't know how to best address this problem. When I see other children easily saying good bye to their parents and slipping into nursery mode as well as enjoying it, I feel is there something wrong with the emotional development of my child??
Comment: #2
Posted by: katie
Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:31 AM
I feel like my 4 year old son is way too attached. I stayed home with him and when I was working he stayed with my mom. He has never stayed with anyone else. I am now teaching and my son just started Pre-K. I thought that it would be easier on him since I am at school with him. He was horrible- I am teaching a pre-k 3 class and I had to end up moving him into my class because it got so bad. I was at the point of quitting my first teaching job becuase everytime he would see me he would literally "pitch a fit" and go back to class crying and going "nuts". it may have been a mistake to move him to my classroom but I had to do something; or one of us would have gone completely crazy. I don't know what to do??? He not only does this at school but he also does this at home. I can't leave him to go anywhere he pitches a fit, he doesn't even want to hang out with his daddy without me. I'm am desperatley looking for suggestions and/or help; any suggestions would be greately appreciated.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Tammy
Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:02 PM
Re: katie
I know what you are going through. I just posted my first comment and I'm hoping that I will get some suggestions. I feel like my 4 yr old son is too attached to me. I am a Pre-K 3 teacher and I had to end up putting my son in my class becuase he was having major melt downs. Some parents come and drop off thier kids in my classroom and they get depressed that their kids just barely tells them bye; i try to let them know how lucky they are. I just wish and pray that I could see the day that my child would tell me bye when i try to leave him and not cry and pitch a fit. Good luck to you let me know if you come across any good suggestions!
Comment: #4
Posted by: Tammy
Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:07 PM
Q. my 4 year old is too attached to me and his dad he often makes a scene when we or one of us leaves the house, playground or even his grandparents house, also he have been going to school for the last 5 months but still cries every morning when we leave him there.
I have talked to his teachers and monitored his relation with them but he seem to be very happy, when we pick him up, and too excited about what he did during the day.
how can I help him to be independent, and stop the bad mood attack?
Comment: #5
Posted by: sam
Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:30 AM
Re: katie
I have the exact same problem with my 4.5 year old son add up to that he over predict the consequences of other's actions for example he doesn't defend him shelf when attacked by other kids even if they were younger or smaller than he is, because he thinks that they might hit him, also I was surprised the other day that he was actually telling his younger brother (3.5 year old ) not to defend himself as well because if he did he will be punished by the teacher!
I have spoken to his teachers they told me that they have been teaching all the kids how should they talk out there problems without fighting but no one ever told him that he would be punished or even pointed such a thing out .
I really don't know what to do, and I understand what you are going through please let me know if you come across any good suggestions
Comment: #6
Posted by: sam
Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:51 AM
I have a 2 yrs old well she will be 3 in June of this yr and we recently moved back in with my mother in law bc the apartments we were at and she was born into were just going down hill quick and getting more and mor unsafe and inorder for us to save some money to get a house was to move in with his mom. Well we moved in probably about 6 months ago and she was ALWAYS a GREAT sleeper at home and would even go to bed by her self some nights. And always when she would wake up in the morning before me would just hang out and play in her room till I got up for work with no problems! NOW that we have moved ( and its even just down the rd) and she refuses to sleep now its hard to put her to bed and when I do I havet 2 lay down with her acually in the bed till she falls a sleep and sneek out then she gets up between 2-4 everynight and between 5-7 and its horrable and I havet 2 go back in there with her and get in the bed and hope to sneek out to return to my bed but its so hard to get her back to sleep after shes awake and been crying mommy and running into our rooms ya know? SO basically I havent slept well in 6 months and I have enouph stress w / work and home and I just need some advice! Any advice! Whatever yawl think plz let me know! This is my first child and I love her with all my heart but mommy haset to sleep too.... and I just dont understand bc even if it was the move that through her off... its been 6 months???? SO HELP! SOMEONE! and btw I know I should have never started getting in the bed w/ her but when we first moved in she got a stomach virus and was pitiful so I felt bad bc she never was good at change anyways so I tried to make it as easy and I could for her ya know?... and she has spent the night over there before we moved in and her nana clams she slept fine so???
Comment: #7
Posted by: Crystal
Mon May 16, 2011 9:48 AM
Comment: #8
Sun Jan 22, 2012 9:37 PM
My daughter as well loves going to her grandma's house. In my situation, she has 2 grandmas's that "spoil" in different ways. One will give her treats galore, buy her gifts, etc. The other will involve her in gardening, go for walks, do crafts, read, etc. It seems this grandma chooses to spend quality time doing quality things, making memories that will last longer than a cupcake extravaganza. I hate to compare, but ask yourself, does YOUR daughter like going over because she's being spoiled with things? (in which case, some boundaries need to be placed) Or, is she being spoiled with love and attention? In my opinion, nurturing a positive, loving & supportive relationship is a good thing. Especially for a young woman growing up in this crazy world! If Gran is a positive role model, then why not? If there are particular aspects of that relationship you disagree with or are unhealthy, speak up. But, just because it feels abnormal for a teenager to be head over heals for Gran, it doesn't mean it's wrong. It may be just the RIGHT thing for HER. If she's cancelling on her friends too much, use it as an opportunity to teach a lesson about one's word & commitment. (heck, ask Gran to talk to her about it even!) Or, if it's inflicting on family time, set limits or invite Gran. But most of all, don't take it personal. You have a special task with your other child, maybe you've been blessed with a Gran that has the time to devote to your daughter, to give her extra attention, and make HER feel special as well. Friends may come and go, but families are forever :) Besides, chances are she's going to blossom into a full blown typical teenager soon... and you'll want her with Gran, instead of chasing boys! lol. Good Luck!!!
Comment: #9
Posted by: Virginia
Thu Feb 9, 2012 10:29 PM
Hello I have a one year old and every time I put him down he cry's it don't matter if he is next to me he will not stop crying. He don't like to be whit no one only whit me, is it normal for him to be like that?
Comment: #10
Posted by: yaneth
Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:13 PM
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