Even the rules around the much more socially acceptable time-out can be a bone of contention between parents and grandparents.
Even the rules around the much more socially acceptable time-out can be a bone of contention between parents and grandparents. iStock

Be disciplined in response to grandkids' bad behaviour

EPIC tantrums, thrashing meltdowns and maybe even a few painful bites are all part of life with a two-year-old but disciplining a toddler can plunge a grandparent into dangerous territory.

While nobody can make getting into a seatbelt or a bath more difficult than an emotional toddler, the wise grandparent knows the real danger doesn't come from the screaming monster in size 2 clothes.

A few badly chosen words from a grandparent can tip an overwhelmed parent over the edge and suddenly all hell breaks loose.

It's an exhausting scenario and one that's best avoided at all costs.

Ideally the who, what, where and when of toddler taming needs to be discussed in a calm and rational manner. In reality, it's more likely to be debated in an explosive outburst in front of a misbehaving child.

Surprisingly, the more time you spend with the grandies the more likely you are to be caught out - I think it's because familiarity breeds confidence.

The more you see them, the more likely you are to drop a badly timed "this is ridiculous” or, in some cases, "you would have got a smack for that”.

I admit I smacked my kids when they were young and I'm not proud of it.

I wish I had understood the power of distraction and learned to recognise the signs of tiredness so I could have avoided some epic battles.

In hindsight, I realise smacking my kids was more about my frustration than their bad behaviour. I would do it differently if I could go back in time.

But even the definition of a smack is up for debate these days. Is a tap on the hand when they reach out to grab a hot cup a "smack”?

If a toddler bites a playmate so hard they leave an imprint of their teeth and instinct has you reaching out to push them away from the victim, is that going "overboard”?

Even the rules around the much more socially acceptable time-out can be a bone of contention between parents and grandparents.

Avoiding the topic doesn't make it easier but taking some time to discuss their approach to discipline and agreeing on some ground rules might help avoid future conflict.

As a general rule I don't dish out the discipline if the parents are around and I try to follow the family rules when mum and dad leave me in charge of the little darlings.

It isn't always easy to stick to my word but it does give me the opportunity for a do-over as I find better ways of managing a situation than to raise my hand.



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