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Advice needed about grandson and daughter in law re discipline - or lack of

(32 Posts)
Pip Mon 07-Mar-16 17:20:33

I am a granny to 6 grandchildren, aged 3-13, from my 3 children. I am very concerned about one of them, my 8 year old grandson. My son and his wife don't seem to believe in discipline and although my 11 year old granddaughter, his sister, is fine and mostly well behaved, my 8 year old grandson is a nightmare. He does what he wants to do and occasionally his mother will half heartedly tell him to stop but if he persists she gives in and let's him get away with almost everything. Then she finally loses her temper and just yells at him - and he yells back til she gives in. My son works all hours so most of the discipline is left to her - and there just isn't any. The result is he is such a badly behaved child that my husband doesn't want him in the house, and doesn't really want to go to their house either. My grandson can be destructive and completely ignores us if we suggest his behaviour is wrong. The family is very comfortably off, with a beautiful home and he lacks for nothing. To my mind he's very spoilt as well as having no boundaries and is permanently playing TV games or on an iPad or iPhone - even during mealtimes and meals out in restaurants. If you try to stop him he screams blue murder. I'm worried that he's growing up with no boundaries but my daughter in law is very liberal and will not accept any interference in her parenting. What can I do to help without alienating my daughter in law or son? He is slightly better behaved at school - and quite bright but lazy. I love all my grandchildren deeply but am really concerned about how he is going to grow up.

Luckygirl Mon 07-Mar-16 17:30:49

What a worry for you. To be honest I do not think there is much you can do. It is not good for this lad to get away with such behaviour, but we interfere with how parents do their job at the risk of being alienated.

Is he ever at your house without his parents? - how does he behave then?

nannypink1 Sat 12-Mar-16 12:04:10

He will be better at school because he knows he can't get away with as much but unfortunately I don't think there us much you can do. How difficult though. I feel fir you bur it's so difficult being a grandparent

ninathenana Sat 12-Mar-16 12:50:26

An 8yr old wouldn't normally "scream blue murder" when told no, though he may well get "stroppy" If his sister is well adjusted then they can't be such bad parents. Is it possible your GS has a problem, do you think ?

NanaandGrampy Sat 12-Mar-16 17:47:17

ooooh difficult one pip .

I dont think theres much if anything you can do when the child is in its own home or its parents are there if they cannot be bothered to discipline the boy. Sadly it seems to happen more and more often.

I see parents sat playing with their phones paying no attention to their children all the time with no regard to the child's behaviour.

We tend not to comment to our daughters ( although sometimes I just cant help myself smile but as they are our daughters I think that's a different situation than to DiL.

What I can say is we have 'Nana's rules' at our house. Some of those rules are very different to the ones at their house. The rules never change and apply to all 4 of them ( 9,6,4,2).

The main rules are :

We eat at the table together. We all sit and we all stay there until everyone is finished. We talk. No iPads at the table.

Bedtime is non negotiable and always follows the same plan : Dinner 45 mins to play, bath, teeth, story bed . We give them a countdown so bedtime never comes as a surprise.

When we go out we are respectful of others around us so we use our indoor voices, we use our nice manners and there is no running around - totally non negotiable.

We use gentle hands to others and pets.

If you are sent to the naughty step you stay there until Nana fetches you , we talk about the behaviour that sent you there . Then we say sorry and have hugs and kisses.

That kind of covers everything. Oh yes and we dont respond to tantrums, screaming , door slamming etc etc. We leave the room , we dont talk , no eye contact until they are calm enough to say sorry and discuss what happened and what we could do in future.

Could you have house rules at your house? At one stage our 6 yr old was not a nice lad to be around and Grampy didn't enjoy his company. We've turned a corner now and he is a lovely little chap. It might be rocky going for a little while but our daughters accepted that as the children were with us there had to be rules and as long as they were fair and equitable it was ok. Could your family feel the same?

TheMaggiejane1 Sat 12-Mar-16 17:57:44

I agree with you about the rules when at grandparent's house NannaandGrampy. It doesn't take them long to realise what non negotiable means!

At other times though I think you have to keep out of it unless you're asked. Often if the parents see the children behaving well when they are at your house they will ask why that is. Then, and only then is the time to tell them.

Jalima Sat 12-Mar-16 18:38:37

and is permanently playing TV games or on an iPad or iPhone
If you try to stop him he screams blue murder.

I would say that that is what is the cause of his bad behaviour - he is having withdrawal symptoms when told to stop using the iPad etc.

However, I don't know what you can do about it, apart from perhaps gently nudging your son in the direction of articles re computer/tv use causing addiction and bad behaviour when told to stop.

eg this one:

Good luck.

trisher Sat 12-Mar-16 19:45:20

Pip it is so difficult to stand by and watch. All I can offer you in the way of comfort is the idea that all children rebel in some way against their parents and children of such parents rebel by becoming more conventional and law abiding. I have seen this in practice my neighbour's son had long hair and seemed to spend all his time when he was about 8 causing bother, climbing fences and kicking balls into my garden. He is 14 now, hair is cut short he is well mannered and polite and always speaks when I see him. Keep your fingers crossed, show him a peaceful ordered way of life and wait, you might have the last laugh.

Wendysue Sat 12-Mar-16 20:24:10

I feel for you, too, Pip. And I don't blame you for worrying about the boy. But I agree with the others that there's not much that you can do. Whether GS's behavior is simply a result of his parents' style of childrearing, a medical/emotional problem or computer addiction, it's up to his parents to deal, for the most part.

Any attempt to interfere is likely to get you distanced and even cut off from this DS' family. Still, if I thought it might help GS in any way, I might suggest that you take that risk. But, trust me, it won't - b/c his parents won't listen and will, most likely, just defend him if you try to discipline him, yourself.

I agree with others that you and DH can have your own rules in your home (and maybe you do?). But you may find them difficult to enforce with this GS, especially if his parents are there and countermand you. If they're not there but disagree with the consequences you dole out (time out or whatever), then you may hear about it or they might decide not to let him come there again w/o one of them being present. But it's certainly worth a try, IMO.

In the main, sorry to say, you and DH may have to avoid being around GS, at least till he's older. You can't do much about GS, but you can do something to shield yourselves from his awful behavior.

Of course, that will mean not being around DS or GD as much either (sigh). It's a choice you two will have to make. (Maybe you can have a "just girls" day with GD and, perhaps, any other GDs you have, but that's all I can think of to get around that.)

I just hope trisher is right and GS straightens out as he gets older. I've heard of that happening, too, so it's a possibility, I believe.

obieone Sun 13-Mar-16 08:53:35

Where is you son in all of this? I realise he works a lot so is not around, but he must be around a bit?
If he were my son, I would be speaking with him.
I would be saying that the gs lacks for nothig financially, but may be lacking big time in other ways, such as attention from dad, and maybe even medical issues considering his siblings may be fine.

elena Sun 13-Mar-16 09:37:57

Does he literally scream when asked to put his technology down?

This would worry me a lot, along with deliberate destructive behaviour.

Neither of these behaviours is normal, and neither can be explained by lax parenting.

I agree with the suggestion to have a kind word with your son.

storygran Sun 29-May-16 14:38:16

I have similar problems with granddaughter, 7 years old and won't accept being told what to do when I'm looking after her and smaller sister. Can anyone suggest a book or course to help me deal with this defiance and screaming? I had hoped she would grow out of tantrums - but it's not happening. Perfect behaviour at school though!

FarNorth Sun 29-May-16 14:47:43

How does she behave at home?

FarNorth Sun 29-May-16 14:49:44

Could you give her some one to one attention, without her little sister? She might respond better to that.

Anya Sun 29-May-16 14:55:49

Children are experts at manipulation. I understand what you are worried about - that your GS is going to fail to grow into a responsible adult, with all that entails.

You say he is 'better' at school. That's reassuring, unless you mean his behaviour I still poor, just relatively 'better'. I assert that 'Nana's house, Nana's rules.' My daughter did once pull me up for telling her son off, and asked me to let her do the disciplining if she was there. Frankly I just ignored that and she seems to have given up on that one.

IMO you and your DH need to agree on how far this child will be allowed to go in your house whether or not his parents are there. If a calm, cool request to stop doing something is ignored you need to get the child to look at you and repeat the request again, firmly. If he acquiesces then gentle praise.

If he persists in ignoring you then you have to make a stand and insist on better behaviour. He, and your DiL, need to know the boundaries.

Seasidenana Sun 29-May-16 17:00:42

It's very tricky this one. It is hard to advise adult children how to discipline their children. I always abide by "parents rules" over most things such as types of food they can eat, what they are allowed to watch on TV, bedtimes etc. However, when it comes to my home and how they treat it they know they have to obey nanas rules. If they want your grandson to come to your home, they should understand that he needs to respect it. My grandson's parents restrict his time on technology because it does make him angry and grumpy if he's on it too long. Kids need to get out and burn off some energy.

hildajenniJ Sun 29-May-16 20:59:23

Has anyone suggested that this boy may have PDA, pathological demand avoidance. It might be worth while comparing his behaviour with this disorder. He sounds like he has some of the problems that children with PDA display.

Deedaa Sun 29-May-16 22:03:41

I'm wondering if there is a real problem with him. For a long time I secretly thought that GS1 was badly behaved, ignoring people who spoke to him and not doing what he was told. Now he is being investigated for several mental problems and his behaviour is becoming more understandable and easier to cope with.

Wendysue Mon 30-May-16 07:35:58

Storygran, there are all kinds of books out there on how to discipline children, even difficult ones. Just check it out on

But I'm sure you've used some of the "tried and true" methods and they don't seem to work. So you may want to look for "How to Talk So Children Will Listen and Listen So Children Will Talk." (Sorry, I can't think of the authors, offhand.) I remember that helping a lot when DH and I were going through a rough patch, years ago, while raising our kids.

Beyond that, I hope you ignore the tantrums, as much as possible. Perhaps check with the parents and ask if she does this with them and how they handle it.

If she doesn't throw tantrums with her parents or nothing you try makes a difference (sigh), then I'm sorry to say, but you may have to let the parents know you can't babysit anymore and they'll have to make other arrangements.

Unless as FN says, she needs some one-on-one time without little sister present. You may want to tell the parents that you'd like to try having them each individually and see what happens.

Meanwhile, Pip, can you tell us if mental/emotional/developmental problems have been rules out where GS is concerned?

chalkhills Tue 05-Jul-16 13:45:44

I do so sympathise, and have just been thinking about asking my daughter to get her 7-year old son to write me a simple little apology for being so rude to me when I last visited. I am very worried that he is becoming spoilt. Bedtime is a nightmare every night, so I understand, and one parent has to stay with him until he falls asleep and even then he comes into their bed during the night and one parent decamps to his. It gets me so cross that they have allowed this situation to develop.
Thank you to those who suggested Rules for Grandma's House. They are visiting me soon to stay the night and I shall send my little grandson a copy before they come. It seems to me that my daughter and son-in-law have no real will to tackle all these problems.

aggie Tue 05-Jul-16 14:07:22

well I guess that is one visit cancelled , I can just imagine what the reaction to written rules will be !

Daddima Tue 05-Jul-16 16:22:47

Chalkhills, may I suggest that the " rules" for Grandma's house are set out around the table ( maybe with drinks and snacks) when everything is going well, and everyone is calm.

Rules should be phrased positively, and telling children what to do, rather than what not to do, e.g. " Speak quietly", rather than " No shouting", " Sit nicely on the furniture", rather than " Don't jump on the furniture".

M0nica Tue 05-Jul-16 17:37:49

Wait until he leaves school and goes to work. He will learn pdq how to control himself and work with other people otherwise he will be out on his ear.

rosesarered Tue 05-Jul-16 17:40:31

Say nothing to your son or DIL.......could cause a huge rift.Parents have the last word in child rearing, not grandparents.

TriciaF Tue 05-Jul-16 17:57:30

chalkhills - I think even very young children can accept that grandparents in their own house expect different behaviour from when they're at home.
We had a situation when some of the children were last here for a week (we live abroad) when 9 yr old DGD was cheeky to her Grandad. By his standards anyway (don't laugh - she laughed and joked when he farted.)I told her she should apologise, and she did. Parents were ok with it.