While Deepa was busy cooking in the kitchen, her mother was taking care of her son Aditya. In between his play, Aditya demanded some ice cream from his grandmother who immediately offered it to him. While this did not go down well with Deepa, she kept her annoyance to herself. Sometime later, Aditya demanded some more ice cream from his grandmother. What she heard her mother tell her son upset Deepa deeply and made her feel very angry. Her mother told her son, “Ok, I will get some for you when your Amma goes to have her bath!”
Does this situation seem familiar to you? What would you do if you were in Deepa’s situation? Do you think her mother’s behaviour was acceptable?
Grandparents love their grandchildren very deeply. In fact, some even love their grandchildren to the point of spoiling them. It in such a situation that parents need to set boundaries.
But, how can we make grandparents respect the boundaries set by us, parents? Here are ten things that parents should discuss with grandparents and make them understand to prevent them from overindulging the grandchildren.
- Respecting rules: Grandparents aren’t very particular when it comes to making their grandchildren follow rules laid down by parents. The best way to avoid this is to communicate to grandparents the reason for laying down the rules and how abiding by them would benefit the children.
- Buying them gifts: Children often receive gifts for displaying good behaviour, or doing well in an area such as academics or sports. However, grandparents often shower their grandchildren with gifts for little or no reason. This can make children think that they don’t need to do anything to receive gifts. Grandparents should be made to understand that it is a better idea to discuss with the parents before giving something to grandchildren.
- Giving sweets and chocolate: Almost every child loves chocolate, ice cream and other sweets. But, having too much confectionery not only affects the health but also alters the eating habits of children. However, most grandparents pamper their grandchildren by giving them a generous amount of sweets. Parents should caution grandparents about the ill effects of children consuming too much confectionery and ask them to restrict it to a small portion.
- Taking sides: Grandparents should stay aloof while parents are disciplining children. Intervening at such times can dilute the importance and seriousness of what parents are conveying to their children. Therefore, it is important that grandparents do not involve themselves while parents are disciplining their children. However, later on, they can have a discussion with their grandchildren on the same lines as the parents had with them.
- Tolerating disobedience: As a rule, grandparents are more tolerant than parents. However, they shouldn’t allow their grandchildren to break rules; they should correct them when they indulge in disobedience. The most effective thing to do is to remind grandparents about how they treated their children and corrected them whenever they made a mistake.
- Overfeeding: With many grandparents, feeding the child is just not enough. They tend to overfeed their grandchild. In some children, this leads to food aversion and obesity, while in others, it increases the appetite and makes them eat more than they should. Therefore, parents should speak to grandparents and give them an idea of the ideal portion size the child should be fed, and stress on the fact that the child must not be force-fed.
- Giving in to tantrums: It is very difficult to reason with a child who is in the midst of a tantrum. Quite a few grandparents give in when their grandchild throws up a tantrum and provide him with whatever he is asking for. While this calms the child down, it increases the chances of the child throwing up a tantrum whenever he wants something, instead of trying to communicate his need. Parents should tell grandparents to reflect on how they handled tantrums as parents and adopt the same approach with their grandchild.
- Allowing excess screen time: We live in an age where watching the screen is unavoidable. However, with increasing awareness about the ill effects of too much screen time, most parents have started setting limits on the amount of time their child can spend with gadgets. To circumvent the rule, children approach grandparents with requests for some extra screen time. At such times, grandparents should tell their grandchildren that rules can’t be changed.
- Indulging in the ‘don’t tell’ game: Sometimes, grandparents find it difficult to say ‘no’ and comply with the wishes of their grandchild. But, while doing so, they also tell the child to not tell her parents about her wish being fulfilled. This approach can confuse a child with regard to boundaries set by parents. It can also make the child get into the habit of hiding things from her parents. If grandparents find it tough to say ‘no’, they should try to negotiate with the child. If that doesn’t yield the required results, they should convey it to the parents so that they can take address it.
- Relaxing the routine: Sometimes, grandparents go easy on routine such as not adhering strictly to mealtime and bedtime. Therefore, while leaving children in the care of grandparents, parent should communicate to grandparents the routine the child should follow.
Looking at grandparents pampering their grandchildren makes it hard to believe that these are the very individuals who laid down strict rules for their children to follow. While allowing grandparents every opportunity to shower their grandchildren with love and affection, we must also ensure that, as parents, our parenting choices and styles are respected. But, for this to happen, both parents and grandparents need to communicate and reach an understanding.
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