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Brenda Nixon, M.A.

As the former Kansas City FOX TV4 parenting expert, Brenda is the award-winning author of The Birth to Five Book and host of The Parent's Plate radio show. Quoted in Parenting and Good Housekeeping magazines, WebMD, and appearing on Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey, she is often tapped as a reso...

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03/14/2011 08:50am
Grandma Rules

She stood across the hotel’s service desk and bragged about her grandkids. As I was checking out of my room from an overnight speaking engagement, the desk clerk showed me pictures then explained about her two adult children. “One is a great disciplinarian,” she said, “but the other lets her kids do anything they want!” She shook her head in frustration and disbelief. “I want to discipline them but when their mom won’t; I don’t want to risk losing their love.”

Ever feel like your grandkids rule the roost at home and expect the same at yours? It can be a tough position, but don’t cave in from fear that they’ll hate you.

Kids are amazingly adaptable and quickly learn the expectations in different situations. When they go to daycare, school, church, or the store they adjust to those rules. You run your home; continue running it when the grandkids are there. A simple statement, "Remember kids, you’re at Grandma's and that means Grandma Rules," is usually sufficient. Probably they have such fun with you they won't take the chance of you being displeased with their behavior. One woman confessed, “I LOVE being a grandma—we are so smart; at least my eight grandkids think so and who am I to argue!”

Remind yourself that most self-respecting kids try to manipulate, argue, negotiate or “push the envelope.” So, here are four tips to confront the darling banshees:

•Remain calm. Kids love it when you lose your cool, yell or throw up your arms in defeat because it gives them a sense of power over you.

•Be consistent. Children thrive when their life is comfortably predictable.

•Make eye contact. Someone said, “The eye is the pathway to the soul.” Talk to your grandkids, not at them, for the greatest impact.

•Be a promise-keeper. Immediately apply consequences to behavior so they learn that all actions have reactions.
The truth is your grandkids will see you as a good grandma when you show interest in their behavior by setting reasonable rules, boundaries, and limitations. Kids feel secure with adults who run the household.

If possible, explain to your grown kids that you’d like them to write down their discipline rules—even if you think they have none. Tell them you want to support their efforts and use their methods: time-out, removal of TV privileges, or demanding an apology.

Out of 2,134 parents surveyed, with children ages 2 to 11, one-third didn't think their discipline methods were working well, according to a study published in Clinical Pediatrics. Perhaps your initiative may open lines of communication, encourage more authority, and foster a team attitude. Then everyone wins. Grandma Moses wisely observed, “Life is what you make it. Always has been. Always will be.”


tips for grandparents, discipline, grandkids, authority
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