Out of control grandparents who do not respect you as the mother.

Hillary - posted on 08/02/2014 ( 3 moms have responded )




I am 22 years old a fulltime student and have a part-time job. My son and I live with my parents. My mother watches him and lets him completely control her, his temper tantrums have gotten worse and my mother discredits my input. She tries to make excuses for his actions instead of trying to stop them. I've witnessed them getting frustrated and yelling then picking him (which they don't see is making a bad situation worse) and try to act like I'm too young and dumb to know how to deal with it. PLEASE HELP!!! How'd you all deal with tantrums? I've consistently read to remain calm and put him by himself until he is calmed down. When alone I've done this and it eventually works but he gets around his grandparents and has complete control.


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Chet - posted on 08/02/2014




This is a difficult situation. If you live with your parents, are in school full time, and work part time, that sounds like your mother is more than "watching" your son. "Watching your son" implies a few hours here and there. This sounds like your mother is with your son most of the time.

If you've read a lot about tantrums you know that they happen for reasons. They have triggers. Kids are tired, hungry, overstimulated, overwhelmed, frustrated, thrown off by a schedule change, etc. Tantrums aren't truly random. They express something real. So it's very difficult to tell if your mother is really a pushover with deficient childcare skills, or if she spends so much time with your son that her "excuses" for his behaviour are legitimate explanations.

I also can't gauge if this is actually a case of your being dismissed by your mother for being "young and dumb." It could be that, or it could be a case of the person who is with the child all day resisting advice from the person who is with the child a few hours a day and who read something on the internet. Even if it's the former, and your mom isn't dealing with your son very well, the optics are bad if you're giving advice when she's the one who's with him most of the time.

I would try to approach the situation like you and your mom are on the same team. The situation doesn't need to be framed up like one person doing it right and another person doing it wrong. This can be two people working together.

Part of the reason "stay calm" is the first step in dealing with a tantrum is because it can be so difficult to remain composed. When you've been caring for a child all day you become closely connected to that child and you feed off of each other's emotions. Being with someone calm generally helps the child to calm down, but it's often difficult to do because a distressed child can so easily wind a person up.

One of the most helpful things in the world is to have a fresh, relaxed person be able to step into a tense situation and inject some calm. If you can be the calm person who helps your mom and your son both wind down then you're all working together. You can gently tell your mom, "it's okay, you've done so much today already, I'll take him in the other room and calm him down. You take a couple minutes and relax." You're not criticizing her, you're stepping up to assist.

The first step in dealing with tantrums though is avoiding tantrums. It's stopping them before they start. It's knowing when a child will want something they can't have and making sure they don't see it. It's using distraction to redirect attention and to defuse situations before they explode into tantrums. It's knowing a child's schedule or routine and helping them to stick to it, and cutting them some slack when you know they're coming up on the end of their rope because they're tired, hungry or sick.

Once you've got a tantrum on your hands it is best to stay calm, but it's not necessarily best to leave a child alone. It really depends on the age of the child, the degree of tantrum and the specifics of the situation. Young child often need help to calm down. And they need people to teach them the right things to do. It's not unreasonable to pick up a 15 month old who starts to tantrum, take them to a different room and cuddle if that will calm them down.

Some tantrums are for show and will instantly stop if a child doesn't have an audience. Many tantrums are not like this though, and kids do need help to calm down and refocus. If a child is raging and needs space give it to them, but in general, I don't leave tantruming children alone.

Ev - posted on 08/02/2014




I have to agree with most of what Lori said but the part about being a grandparent and just cuddling, spoiling and snuggling the grandkids. I watched my own parents be great grandparents to my two kids and my niece. But though they did snuggle them and cuddle them, they did not spoil them much. They also made them mind when they had them and expected that they did the same as me and my sis did in their care when we were kids. Now, I do spoil my grandchildren some but not too much. I do expect that they act accordingly to the situation even at the age of two. My daughter though does discipline her children and they live with her inlaws. Those grandparents also do discipline when needed if my daughter or her husband is not there to provide it. We all take a part in helping to raise the kids. They do get some spoiling but not to a great point. But if you want change, you either need to move or sit down and discuss things with your parents.

Lori - posted on 08/02/2014




as a grandparent with a daughter and granddaughter who live with us - I see the flip side of this although I handle temper tantrums very easily and not in the way you described your parents.

however, I see my very young daughter have absolutely NO patience with a 3-year old who is absolutely well behaved on most days. it's almost like my granddaughter is a simple annoyance to her and it breaks my heart. when I try to explain to my daughter how to handle some of these things (in a nice advice way), all I get is "I am her mother". well - you know what? this is MY house and all the yelling is unnecessary. I don't scream constantly at three year olds and while she is in my house, it won't be done either.

in other words, it goes both ways. unfortunately, until you move out, you are a guest in someone's home and, if you want true control, you will have to move away.

being a grandparent is totally different than being a parent. your job is discipline and our job is snuggles and cuddles and spoils. if you want that to change, you need to become independent.

btw - as an experienced parent, I simply ignored the tantrum. made sure they were in a safe place where they wouldn't hurt themselves if they thrashed about a bit. they would usually come snuggle when they calmed down with a few tears. these are small people who's synapsis are growing quickly so they have emotional outbursts that they don't understand at times. they also are self-centered. let them cry it out. they'll stop.

I pay for my granddaughter to attend an early education center (because she would be totally bored all day staying home with my daughter) and this has been immensely helpful as they learn to name feelings, redirect and even conflict resolve. she often says things like "I don't like that" so she gives her emotions a voice instead of internalizing them into a tantrum. and that's okay for them not to like something.

also, if it's a tantrum over getting things done (shoes on, dressed, etc.) - it is easier for them to have choice. "do you want to wear this pair of shoes or that pair of shoes" instead of "let's get our shoes on". their brain automatically goes to the choice instead of realizing they don't want to get their shoes on. in other words, some tantrums can be cut off at the pass too.

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