4 ways to prevent grandparents from spoiling your child

By Dr Richard C. Woolfson   — March 03, 2017
  • 1 / 4

    Grandma and Grandpa absolutely adore your little one, and you’re delighted that he loves them as much as they love him. But you may be worried that they’re overindulging him. 

    It is unlikely that you can ever stop adoring grandparents from spoiling their grandchildren entirely. However, if you try to reach a compromise – that they can still show their love, but in a way that doesn’t break your parental rules – then you’ll all be satisfied with the outcome.

    Most of all, your young child will benefit from being the centre of attention of two family generations, and the entire family will continue to have a positive relationship.

    Here’s how you can handle these three common situations tactfully and sensitively. 

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  • Oh no, not another present!
    2 / 4 Oh no, not another present!

    What happened Your heart sinks when your parents arrive with yet another armful of gifts, and it is not even your toddler’s birthday, nor is it Christmas. Your little one already has more toys than he actually plays with, and you worry that he’ll simply lose interest if he keeps getting more and more. 

    How to handle this Before you say anything to Grandma and Grandpa, remember that they shower your tot with toys, books and clothes because they love him and want him to have the best – they’re not doing this to annoy you.

    Thank them for their presents, and explain that because he still has lots of unopened ones, you’ll keep the gifts they just brought, so he doesn’t get everything at once.

    Tell the grandparents that you’ll let them know when his current pile diminishes in size, and ask them not to buy anything more until then. 

    Related: Competition between grandparents

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  • But I'm the parent!
    3 / 4 But I'm the parent!

    What happened You’ve told the grandparents that your tot is not allowed to touch that valuable ornament on the shelf, and yet they let him do what he wants. 

    When they allow him to do something that you have speci?cally told them he shouldn’t do, they undermine your parental authority.

    How to handle this Tell Grandma and Grandpa that you understand they love him and that they don’t want to say “no” to him – most grandparents quickly lose the ability to use that word with their grandchildren. But add that you also know they want you to be an effective parent who can provide the best possible upbringing for their grandchild. 

    Point out that by breaching a limit you have set for your toddler’s behaviour, they weaken your authority as his parent. 

    They won’t like to think that they have a bad effect on your relationship with your child. 

    Related: Why grandparents are important to your kids  

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  • You gave him sweets again?!
    4 / 4 You gave him sweets again?!

    What happened Your parents have kindly looked after Junior for a couple of hours, but when you return, his faced is smeared with chocolate and his hands are sticky with the residue of sweets. 

    You have very clear ideas about his diet, and about the foods he shouldn’t eatIn particular, you only allow him chocolates and sweets on special occasions. 

    How to handle this Giving food is a demonstration of love, so the grandparents don’t think that giving him lots of sweets is spoiling him. As far as they are concerned, that’s just another way of expressing their love for him. 

    Since sweets and chocolates can be an effective way of settling a restless toddler, the next time they babysit their grandchild, put out a small amount of sweets for him.

    Tell them they can give their grandchild these sweets if they want, but they shouldn’t give him any more as that would be bad for his teeth. 

    Related: Another girl? 5 ways to deal with in-laws’ disappointment

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