How To Stop Grandparents From Spoiling Your Kids
Do you have trouble with your parents or in-laws spoiling your kids? Grandparents can provide incredible support and love for young children, not to mention incredible childcare services when you’re stuck.
But some of their attentions are not always welcome; particularly when it comes to spoiling small children with consistently unhealthy foods, buying them whatever they like, and indulging behaviour that wouldn’t be accepted at home.
So how can you encourage your kids' grandparents to follow your guidelines? We’ve put together some top tips on how to tackle this tricky issue:
It’s better to tell grandparents how you feel, rather than letting feelings of tension fester and turn into an even bigger problem. Instead of tackling the issue when it arises, find a quiet time (preferably when your little one isn’t there) to discuss your feelings with whichever grandparent likes to spoil them most.
Read Next: 10 Steps To Better Toddler Behaviour
Acknowledge their intentions
Most of the time, these actions are coming from a good place. They are just enjoying the time they have with their grandchildren. Start the conversation by acknowledging their intentions and thanking them for all their input. They’ll feel less attacked if you show that you appreciate their involvement.
Explain the challenges
Some grandparents feel that they’re meant to spoil their grandkids. To address this, ask for their input with changes, rather than challenging them.
For example, if you feel that your parents don’t consider how regularly they’re serving unhealthy snacks; you can explain that the dentist has noticed some tooth decay, and that you all need to come up with a plan for taking good care of your child’s teeth, or if your child has been suffering from lack of sleep after spending time with them, discuss how you might improve sleeping habits.
Read Next: How To Discipline A Naughty Toddler
Quarantine the loot
If you find that your home is overflowing with the goodies after each visit, request that your parents (and in-laws) keep any stuff they buy at their house for the children to play with. Once the clutter starts to pile up there, they might quickly cut down!
Talk parent to parent
Some grandparents get defensive if they feel criticised for their well-meaning behaviour. So acknowledge their years of parenting you and your siblings, or your partner.
By explaining how you have set limits for your child so she will grow up with strong values, rather than being spoiled, it reminds them of the challenges they might have had parenting you! Tell them that you’d appreciate their involvement with the limits you set, as different treatment confuses the children.
Read Next: A Simple Guide To Meeting Your Child's Needs
Encourage gifts of time, rather than material presents
Of course, many grandparents want to treat their grandkids. But explain that you don’t want material gifts to overshadow the love they’re giving: You don’t want your kids to expect a present every time they visit. Instead, encourage them to channel their attention with quality time, fun outings, or (reasonable) gifts saved for special occasions.
Pick your battles
Obviously the level of discipline and routine may be dependent on how regularly your children and their grandparents spend time together – if they regularly babysit, they may need to adhere closer to your rules to keep a sense of continuity. But as long as it doesn’t cross any boundaries (such as safety), it is sometimes best to let some things go.
Kept at a level you can agree with, a certain level of 'different rules in each house' can give grandparents permission to allow occasional treats, such as an extra story, or dessert, without children expecting the same privileges at home.
Read Next: Teaching Kids How To Be Respectful
If all else fails, and your parents and in-laws still aren’t getting the message after several attempts at (respectful) conversations, it’s time to take a firmer tone. Tell them their treatment is causing disruption to your child’s behaviour. Remind them that they set rules when they were raising you, and now it’s your turn to set them. Depending on family relationships, it might be best if you talk to your own parents and encourage your partner to raise the issue with the in-laws, in order to maintain good communication between families.
Do you have trouble with your parents or in-laws spoiling your kids? How do you manage it? We'd love to hear.