Grandparents teaching kids bad habits: What to do

May 03, 2019
  • 1 / 9

    Although your preschooler spends three hours a day in kindergarten, his main caregivers during the day are his grandparents.

    Unfortunately, you’ve begun to realise he’s picking up bad habits from them, like watching TV all day instead of playing with his toys, and shouting out when he wants something instead of asking nicely.

    Related: 4 ways to prevent grandparents from spoiling your child

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  • 2 / 9

    You don’t want to off end Grandma and Grandpa, but you do want to wean your growing child off these awful habits. You need to tread carefully.

    Before lodging a complaint, think about possible explanations for the way they look after your child. Perhaps they’re getting on in age and simply don’t have the physical energy and mobility to keep an active child busy every minute he’s with them.

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  • 3 / 9

    They may have forgotten how to play with young children, so they can’t provide the sort of activities and stimulation he needs.

    If one or both of them have visual or hearing difficulty, this may restrict what they can do with your child during the day, too.

    And if they don’t realise you disapprove of the way they speak in front of Junior, they’ll think you’re happy with their standard of childcare.

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  • 4 / 9

    Of course, one option for you is to take this responsibility away from them and hand it over to a paid carer. If you can afford it and do choose this course of action, you’ll need to use tact and diplomacy in order to protect their feelings.

    Bear in mind that Hubby may be upset by your proposal, especially if the difficulty lies with his parents. Discuss your concerns with your husband in depth, weighing the pros and cons very carefully until you’re both in agreement about what to do next.

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  • 5 / 9

    Once you’re of like minds, explain to the grandparents that you’ll be making other childcare arrangements. Do this in a way that avoids criticism or disapproval (for example, explain that this will make life easier for them).

    The other option is to stick with the current arrangement, but suggest changes to improve Junior’s experiences when he’s with them. Here are some helpful suggestions that you can gently raise. 

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  • Suggest activities
    6 / 9 Suggest activities

    Your child likes variety, with a wide range of games, toys and play activities each day. Draw up a list that his grandparents can work through during the typical day. They’ll probably welcome your suggestions, as this gives them a plan of action to follow.

    Related: What to do when grandparents play favourites with grandchildren

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  • Make friends
    7 / 9 Make friends

    It’s also worth reminding the grandparents that your child likes to spend some time in the company of others his own age.

    Ask them to take him to see his friends sometimes or to arrange for them to visit during the day.

    This provides social stimulation and allows him to develop his social skills.

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  • Give them your wish list
    8 / 9 Give them your wish list

    Instead of complaining about the bad habits he learns from them, tell the grandparents how you’d like him to behave – for example, to ask nicely for things, to share his sweets, and to say “please” and “thank you”.

    Ask them to encourage these positive habits whenever they can.

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  • Evaluate regularly
    9 / 9 Evaluate regularly

    You may be surprised to find that the grandparents do change their ways following your discussions with them. That would be great for everyone.

    But if you do find that their pattern of caregiving remains the same despite your suggestions, you may decide that’s the point when you need to choose different carers. 


    Related: Why grandparents matter to your children

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