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Shouting at grandchild

(53 Posts)
Lindey Mon 08-Apr-19 21:30:30

I have a lovely family and am lucky enough to have 2 beautiful grandchildren. The oldest little one is almost three years now and is a typical toddler - never sits still for a minute, always up to tricks and can try the patience of a saint. However, he is adorable and is obviously just learning about the world and how to behave. He is so loved by us all, is mostly a gentle, quite shy wee boy and I can honestly say I have never raised my voice to him and try to show him right from wrong in a calm measured way (it's really hard sometimes as many of you will know).

My son in law is a great guy and works hard, pulls his weight at home with the housework and the children and really enjoys being a kind and caring daddy.

My worry is that he has quite a 'short fuse' and I have witnessed him on a couple of occasions losing his temper at the 3 year old and shouting at him. This has resulted in my grandson running out of the room, crying and upset. Daddy then tries to make things up to him by cuddling, etc as he has then realised he has over-reacted. My son in law seems to think my grandson should understand that no means no and should take a telling, but I feel he is expecting too much from such a young child who is just learning right from wrong. Mainly I hate when he raises his voice like this at such a young child and feel that it is totally unnecessary.

I get upset when I see my grandson getting a 'row' in this way, but do not interfere as I do not want to cause any bad feeling. On the few occasions I have witnessed this shouting I have not told my daughter as I do not want to upset or worry her either.

I feel my son in law is just 'learning' himself how to be a good daddy, but finds it hard to control his frustration and temper sometimes. I feel sure this is not an everyday occurrence, but I worry if being shouted at in this way, even if only occasionally, could have a detrimental long term effect on my grandson. I feel it is unacceptable for my son in law to shout in this way at such a young child and wonder about the best way to deal with this. Any positive advice would be welcome. Thank you.

FlexibleFriend Mon 08-Apr-19 21:58:17

Kids that grow up with shouty parents tend to think it's normal because it is to them. I think it's highly doubtful your grandson will be harmed by being shouted at especially as his dad follows it up with cuddles and then talks in a more normal tone.
The best way to deal with it is by staying out of it.

Namsnanny Mon 08-Apr-19 22:03:19

Hello Lindey, smile

I'm sorry I don't really have any advice as yet, just questions if you don't mind!

Have they any child care books around the house?

Has your daughter mentioned anything about her husbands parenting?

Has your daughter witnessed his lack of control?

If she has what does she do?

The difficulty here imv, is if your daughter thinks her husbands behaviour is ok, then there is very little you can do.

Of course you can talk to either of them about it, but for my money I wouldn't advise it!!

good luck shamrock

Bridgeit Mon 08-Apr-19 22:18:24

Yes it’s very difficult isn’t it, but you need to be very careful, your daughter must know that he behaves this way , if so
Perhaps you should ask her how she feels about it & open up a dialogue best wishes .

Anja Mon 08-Apr-19 22:32:33

Perhaps if you see a situation developing you could ‘model’ your way to deal with it eg distraction springs to mind. Then perhaps your SiL would think and use that in future!

It doesn’t have to be obvious. I’m sure you could manage that subtly.

MovingOn2018 Tue 09-Apr-19 03:44:03

Not sure why you're comparing your method of discipline to his. You simply need to mind your own business, play your grandmother role and let him as a parent handle any disciplinary measures.

MamaCaz Tue 09-Apr-19 07:16:30

He sounds like a loving father.

I think it's very unlikely that what you describe having seen on " a couple of occasions" will have a detrimental effect on his three year old son, lasting or otherwise.

Jane10 Tue 09-Apr-19 07:33:07

It's completely understandable that it's hard for poor Lindey to stand back and watch her lovely grandson (or any small child) being treated in this way. I think it's a good suggestion for her to model her way of dealing with difficult moments with the little boy at a time when the Dad's around so he can see that there are better ways of dealing with the situation. Sounds like the Dad might be under stress. A nice cup of tea and a 'how was your day?' might take the sting out of things. As ever, it's about cultivating positive relationships. That included the dad's with his little son.

sodapop Tue 09-Apr-19 08:13:56

I agree with MamaCaz You can lead by example otherwise don't worry too much about this. I have to admit to being a 'shouty' person with a bit of a short fuse but it was always short lived and my children knew they were loved.
We all have different temperaments Lindey and I'm sure your grandson knows he is loved too.

Madgran77 Tue 09-Apr-19 08:44:03

Modelling has been suggested ...problem is that if dad feels that his role with his child is being "usurped" he will not react positively!
I think that young children who are in a loving home soon learn the different dynamics with different people and that is part of life. The little boy will know that daddy shouts when angry but he will also know that's just daddy and that he is not in danger!

grandtanteJE65 Tue 09-Apr-19 08:52:14

Would it be quite out of the question for you to say to your SIL that shouting at a little child scares him?

Obviously, the young father regrets doing so, otherwise he wouldn't be cuddling the child afterwards.

I would definitely say something when the child was not present, if anyone shouted at a small child, or for that matter a dog!

This "butt out, he isn't your child attitude" that so many of you show really surprises me. We are grandparents with the benefit of experience, so a politely expressed opinion should be a possibility.

grannyactivist Tue 09-Apr-19 09:42:28

As a teacher I never raised my voice in class because I believe it defeats the object. When we had trainee teachers I used to tell them that shouting in the classroom is like using the horn to steer your car; it won't get you anywhere. Nevertheless, what you describe Lindey seems to be an occasional meltdown born of frustration and in the context of a loving dad who spends quality time interacting with the child so I really don't think I would make too much of it.

As an aside I remember when my own children were young they often used to say that I had 'shouted' at them when in fact I hadn't, I had merely used a lower tone and a fierce stare. As adults they reflect on that and say that although that's true it 'felt' as though I'd shouted. hmm

luluaugust Tue 09-Apr-19 09:52:52

Just from observation I would say the occasional bit of shouting is not that unusual among young dads or young mums going by our High Street! I know that doesn't make it right. As always I would avoid getting involved if you can people seem to have to try so hard to be a parent now and if your DD is not worried you could find yourself in the middle of something you can't actually solve.

Gonegirl Tue 09-Apr-19 09:59:28

I think you are worrying too much about this. So long as Daddy gives him a loving cuddle after the shouting, there will be no harm done. Children at a very young age start to realise that mums and dads get angry sometimes, just like they do.

So long as there is plenty of love about, and the shouting goes no further than that, things will be fine. Dad is obviously working on it.

eazybee Tue 09-Apr-19 10:01:02

Most definitely do not interfere.
I agree with your son in law that his son is capable of understanding at three years old that 'no' means 'no'; he is undoing his discipline if he shouts, tells the child off and then runs after him and cuddles him. I hope he doesn't say 'Daddy didn't mean it.'
Firmness and holding to the point are what are needed, then he won't need to raise his voice, but your grandson has already learned that bursting into tears when reproved earns him sympathy.
And most certainly do not tell your daughter; not your business.

madeline Tue 09-Apr-19 10:23:47

Just to add, we're not really a "shouty" family and we've had problems at school where if a teacher shouts my son gets extremely upset and cries, cowers and flinches. He's just not used to and it really affects him.

grannytotwins Tue 09-Apr-19 10:50:18

I think it’s a shocking way to behave towards a small child. My twin grandchildren are seven now and have a father that behaves in this exact way. Now they are older and can express themselves fully, they say that his behaviour makes them unhappy. They see him at weekends and one night a week as my daughter split up with him. The boy, in particular, is upset greatly by his father’s on-off behaviour. However much he cuddles and apologises later, damage has been done. It’s a huge red flag.

Gonegirl Tue 09-Apr-19 10:53:09

I hate to say this Grannyactivist but I have to report that these days shouting at the little sods in my daughter's class is often the only way the little bu****s can be got through to. Especially when it comes to breaking up a classroom fight. (her being 5ft 3, and weighing around 9 stone!) Sigh!

Tokyojo3 Tue 09-Apr-19 10:57:57

I too have a son in law with an incredibly short fuse . He was an army man and when he shouts it’s really terrible. He’s a good husband and father to my three year old granddaughter who is a right little monkey! As has been said, a three year old is just learning about the world and gets up to all sorts. He has an incredibly short fuse and frightens the child . I’m a retired teacher of children with Special Needs to add to the background of this post. Sudden outbursts like the ones I’ve witnessed are terrifying for a child and he cuddles her later on ... this could colour her learned view of men and what love is ...setting her up to seek a man who is abusive and controlling. I dare not say anything but it does not stop me being worried sick . Shouting at children simply doesn’t work and a grown man frightening a young child is disgraceful.

fizzers Tue 09-Apr-19 11:07:27

keep out of it, you will be seen as possibly meddling

jaylucy Tue 09-Apr-19 11:09:13

As the daughter of a much loved father that shouted, I can quite honestly say that it hasn't affected me in any way. The thing is, children need to learn where the barriers are in life if it be safety, bad behaviour or anything. The times when my father shouted, meant I knew when to stop and so did my brothers and sister as well as my son and nieces and nephews !
Your SiL has a different way to discipline than you have, so suggest you butt out unless you witness actual harm.

Chinesecrested Tue 09-Apr-19 11:12:41

In my day the children would get a smack, so getting shouted at has to be an improvement, surely?

Barmeyoldbat Tue 09-Apr-19 11:23:46

I was a shouty parent and dit did my kids no harm, in fact my son had a problem with a teacher in primary school her didn't like but all the other kids did. In the next year he had a strict teacher who would raise her voice a bit to make her point and my son loved her. It was miss and miss that, she could do no wrong. I would suggest you carry on as you are.

trisher Tue 09-Apr-19 11:37:49

Don't times change! Time was when dads were there to dish out the discipline which might indeed include hitting and almost certainly shouting. Does shouting harm children? of course not. In fact sometimes it can save them from harm by stopping them from doing dangerous things. I would just ignore it. The dad is doing his best.

icanhandthemback Tue 09-Apr-19 12:07:31

I have this with my SIL. I've learned to keep my mouth shut! My daughter hates it, I hate it and Grandaughter goes into meltdown mode. The psychologist has told him it is counter productive, he's done the parenting courses twice but still he can't help himself. It is the biggest cause of discontentment in their household. I don't know what the answer is but I empathise.

Patticake123 Tue 09-Apr-19 12:53:40

Whilst I hate to admit it, your description could be my own son and we would witness this behaviour with horror. However, speed forward and now the children are a bit older, whilst he is still on a short fuse, they are such lovely, kind and responsive children. They are well mannered and mostly well behaved and from everything we can see they absolutely adore their daddy.

25Avalon Tue 09-Apr-19 13:10:05

You are not with them 24/7. Having 2 children under 4 all day can be absolutely exhausting and you are only there for a short time. Whilst I would say don't interfere, perhaps you can diffuse the situation. If you see a situation about to happen that will cause sil to erupt try diversionary tactics to avoid it.

Annaram1 Tue 09-Apr-19 13:25:13

My dad used to shout at me and my brothers when we were children He also used to box our ears. My mum was worse. Not only did she shout but also terrified us by chasing us with a carving knife. if she caught us she used to hold the knife up to our throats. My younger brother was a bit of a devil and always in trouble. One day she chased him with the knife and he ran up a ladder against our garage wall and stayed up there for ages. She shouted "Come down here!!!" NOT LIKELY! Did it harm us? We all survived and still loved them,,, Because we knew they would be all right once they had calmed down.

Sandigold Tue 09-Apr-19 13:33:02

It's far from ideal I think the shouting followed by cuddles is a very confusing message. And the child is very young. What to do? I have s similar issue in my family. If you can offer a helpful suggestion when you SIL is remorseful....but yes it's s minefield. Shouting can be considered emotionally abusive and it can be traumatic especially if your grandson is highly sensitive. I've spoken to a family member in a similar situation and gave him a book called Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting by Niel Janis Norton. Wish you well.

Namsnanny Tue 09-Apr-19 14:11:13

Well there’s shouting and there’s SHOUTING!!
As others have pointed out cuddles afterward is confusing for a child. Better to sit down together and explain why dad behaved this way. Not condoning it, not endorsing child’s behaviour either. Like everything to do with child care (any relationship really) it’s trying to keep to the middle ground.

oldmom Tue 09-Apr-19 14:21:35

Shouting is not ideal, and it's good that your SIL actually realises that.

However, if your GS is neurotypical, 3 years old is NOT too young to know that No means No. A 2 year old should know that, if parents are consistent. Don't mollycoddle your GS and let him think he can get away with blue murder with you, it will just make his father's job even harder. A 3 year old is not a baby any more.

quizqueen Tue 09-Apr-19 14:30:09

Parents who lose control with their children and scream at them very often produce children who grow up to be the same, unfortunately, or it goes the opposite way and they become adults who are afraid of confrontation. Of course, no means no, but it be enforced calmly.

Can your daughter video him when he is shouting and play it back to him. He may be shocked out of doing it when he sees himself but it's up to her to sort it out really, not you. You could point out your concerns to her if you have that sot of relationship. He needs to use the old 'count to 10' method.

Gonegirl Tue 09-Apr-19 14:48:56

I don't think the cuddles after shouting are confusing. Just showing the child is still loved in spite of his being naughty.

trisher Tue 09-Apr-19 15:00:49

Cuddles would only be confusing if the father was apologising and saying he shouldn't have shouted. If he is saying I love you even when you are naughty he is giving a positive message.
Nothing wrong with a child knowing some adults can be bad tempered. My mum's dad was very grumpy and could really snap at you, however he also had a great sense of humour, taught me all sorts of tricks and jokes and helped me play them on people. You learned to judge what mood he was in.

Saggi Tue 09-Apr-19 15:44:01

My son in law is the most lovely dad...but... when he has to reprimand one of his children he insists on the longest monologue and most boring
Explanations of why they shouldn’t have done what they did... that any child would just wish for a clip round the ear and that being an end to it. Thank goodness that’s how I was brought up.I see my erring grandchild glazing over with the tediousness I’d it all.

Dancinggran Tue 09-Apr-19 16:02:29

My SiL is the same however he doesn't shout at the children all the time and he is a loving father who adores the children and I assume it's the same with yours. It does still upset me if I hear him shout but they are now 9&7, are both extremely happy and well adjusted who have a happy, wonderful, loving relationship with both their parents.

elfies Tue 09-Apr-19 16:42:35

Please try not to have this happen near the bairn will affect him ,believe me .
My beloved dad used had a short fuse ,and used to simply Erupt . For many years I had nightmares about being tiny with no voice and having giant people bellowing at me . In time these nightmares eased , but I still panic if someone (or even a Tv programme) is shouty and overloud .
And I'm now in my Seventies

Madgran77 Tue 09-Apr-19 17:14:46

grandetante The trouble is, as can be seen on this thread, even politely expressed opinions can be not welcomed and can cause bigger problems. Only the OP will know if that is the case or not

Daddima Tue 09-Apr-19 17:44:30

In many years of running parenting groups, lots of parents give me the “ my dad ( always the dad, strangely enough) only had to raise his voice and I did what I was told” argument! Illustrating the difference between firm and angry could be a struggle!

Someone mentioned using distraction, but I’d assume it wouldn’t be using something which could be seen as a reward. Sorry if I’m preaching to the converted!

Deedaa Tue 09-Apr-19 23:09:38

I had a book by Penelope Leach in the 70s and in it she said that it didn't do small children any harm to occasionally see that they had pushed a parent too far. The operative word being occasionally of course. A brief loss of temper now and again can be quite instructive.

mumofmadboys Wed 10-Apr-19 07:23:38

I used to love reading Penelope Leach!

B9exchange Wed 10-Apr-19 08:57:50

Penelope Leach was my bible too! A three year old has to understand 'No' means 'No' to keep them safe. I beleived you never break a promise or a threat, and your child will grow up to respect you, as they know where they are.

I despair for the parents who threaten the naughty step or being sent to a room over and over again. 'If you do that once more', the child does, and the phrase is repeated instead of being acted upon. Similarly if you promise a child a treat for enduring something boring or tedious without complaint, then you must move heaven and earth to provide it.

B9exchange Wed 10-Apr-19 08:58:31

believed, apologies!

MamaCaz Wed 10-Apr-19 09:26:36


I think you are so right!

A couple of weeks ago, while at my house, my young GD (5) started being really rude to all of us, including me, when not allowed to continue doing what she wanted (it was someone else's turn!).

Usually, I leave all disciplining to her parents when they are present, but I could see that they were at their wits end and didn't know what to do.

I was so angry, and made a snap decision to act.
I marched her up the stairs and really read her the riot act, about how I would not be spoken to like that in my own home, and would not have behaviour in my own home etc. !

I could hear myself that my voice sounded totally different from normal (very different even from my usual 'cross'voice), and for once in her life, she didn't argue. She sat there open-mouthed!
My last words were, " we will go back downstair now, and you are going to behave, right?" She nodded, meekly.

Riot act over, I took her straight back downstairs and we all carried on as normal, but without the bad behaviour, all her 'attitude' gone.

Just as you said, "a brief loss of temper now and again can be quite instructive"!

Magrithea Wed 10-Apr-19 14:47:11

When either our DD or DSiL shout at their children (often with good reason) we keep out of it, as should any grandparent. Getting involved by trying to mediate only sends mixed messages to the child so please don't. It is hard to 'zip it' but they are the child's parents, not you

Jane10 Wed 10-Apr-19 16:04:00

Once, when babysitting, my youngest DGS was being really awkward, refusing to move. I could do nothing with him. DH suddenly picked him up, put him under his arm and said 'That's it. I'm putting you out into the snow.' I was appalled. Result: youngest DGS thinks the sun shines out of DH! He's his favourite person in the family. Incomprehensible!

dotters Wed 10-Apr-19 16:14:15

I used to witness somebody shouting at his dog and, while feeling sorry for the dog, the actual shouting was very upsetting for us all. Not a pleasant experience for you Lindey.

Deedaa Wed 10-Apr-19 22:17:25

MamaCaz years ago a friend of mine was producing a play with a local amateur group. Some of the actors were beginning to mess around and she eventually got fed up and spoke to them very "forcefully". Her 12 year old son gazed at her in amazement and said "You were using the Mummy voice!!!" The Mummy voice works on grown ups as well grin

jeanie99 Wed 10-Apr-19 23:13:32

If you are there when there is the possibility of the little one is creating a situation which SIL may react, try and distract the child into doing something else with you.
It is very difficult but really it is best not to talk to your daughter as she is problably well aware of her husbands temper.
Unless you are asked for advice it is best not to get involved unless your grandchild is in danger.
Your daughter will not thank you for interferring as she loves her husband and will defend him.
They are the parents and need to sort this out together by talking it through.

TwoSlicesOfCake Tue 07-May-19 21:55:06

This thread might be sleeping but I wanted to add that I think (as a mom of an active toddler) that this all seems very natural.
Your reaction, your son-in-law’s reaction and the toddlers reaction.
Dad is responsible for raising the little boy to be a functioning adult. He is to teach him how to behave and consequences. He lives him dearly and wants to prepare him for the world.
Grandma is for hugs and fun. Of course you’re not comfortable with discipline. You are not raising the kiddo. Your role is very different.
The toddler is a toddler. Controlled by impulse, wants what he wants. Emotional when he doesn’t get it. He’ll learn- dad is teaching him.
Take a deep breath and realize it’s all new to everyone, but everyone is doing great!

M0nica Wed 08-May-19 10:01:48

There is a difference between shouting and losing your temper and shouting in anger - and the second is more worrying.

I confess I was a bit of a shouter, but rarely in anger. although not when the children were as young as 3, usually when they were older and I had gone through all the grades of asking them to do something, telling them to do it. commanding that they do it and finally raising my voice when they continue to ignore me.

I have discussed it with my now very adult children. DD's reaction was, that she knew why I did it because, she for one, had had no intention of doing what I asked, until the alternative, (being shouted at), was marginally worse, than doing what was requested.hmm

As madeline says, a child who never hears a raised voice finds it very difficult to cope with it when it does happen My DH, an only child, grew up in a home entirely quiet and peacefully and this has left him still finding it difficult to accept that someone who likes him/loves him could possibly disagree with him, criticise him or get cross with him, even mildly. To him a negative expression means that person hates him. It has caused him real problems at times, at work and at home.

icanhandthemback Wed 08-May-19 11:50:06

I agree with a lot you say, M0nica. I think it is about balance. I think it is also about letting children know there is a line they don’t cross without consequences, talking about why you took a stand and being able to apologise when you get it wrong or you over react. If you’re end game is to bring a child up to be the best adult they can be, they have to learn resilience along with everything else.

Starlady Sat 11-May-19 15:28:38

Children don't have to be happy about discipline. IMO, that's part of the point - misbehave and there are going to be unpleasant consequences.

Granted, there are more effective ways than shouting to teach a child this lesson. But DD and SIL are going to have to figure this out themselves. Anything you say, Lindey, would, unfortunately, be seen as "interfering," no doubt. I think you're very wise to bring your concerns here instead of to DD or SIL.

"My son in law seems to think my grandson should understand that no means no and should take a telling, but I feel he is expecting too much from such a young child who is just learning right from wrong."

I think you're both right. GS is "just learning right from wrong," but IMO, part of that is learning to obey parents and that "no means no." True, I feel it would be better to distract him from things he's not supposed to do/touch/etc. while still saying "No." But SIL sees it differently and he's the parent (as is DD), not you or me.

As long as he's a good, loving dad, overall, and it's a happy household, I think your GC will be ok. I get how you feel though, and hope that as GS gets older and there are more privileges SIL can take away instead (electronics come to mind), there will be less yelling.