Dealing With a Grandchild’s Misbehaviour

Children, even beloved grandchildren will sometimes misbehave. For grandparents, who are likely to find the antics of their grandchildren adorable rather than naughty, it can be difficult to enforce disciplinary measures.

Allowing a bit of bad behaviour may be permissible if grandparents are infrequent visitors, but if the grandchildren spend a good deal of time with their grandparents, they must be expected to behave in a reasonable manner.

Differences of Opinion

While it is often the grandparents who feel that their grandchildren’s behaviour is acceptable and mum and dad who are a little more stringent about the rules, sometimes the situation is reversed.

Modern children are often afforded a bit more leeway in matters of behaviour than children were a generation ago, so sometimes behaviour that parents find appropriate may be seen as disrespectful by grandparents.

Overall, parents have the right to make all decisions regarding the care and welfare of their children and this includes deciding what is and what is not permissible in matters of behaviour.

If parents and grandparents are present with the children, the parents should be the ones to guide and correct their children’s behaviour.

When grandparents are left in charge to babysit while the children’s parents are at work or out for the evening, grandparents must try to follow the guidelines that the parents have given regarding house rules and discipline.

Respectful Discipline

No matter the specific infraction, children should always be reprimanded in a firm but loving way. Yelling, hitting, or name calling is never acceptable in disciplining a child and engaging in these behaviours accomplishes nothing in teaching the child how to behave properly.

Discipline is defined as “training to ensure proper behaviour: the practice or methods of teaching and enforcing acceptable patterns of behaviour” by the Encarta ® World English Dictionary.

Many people think of discipline as punishment for misdeeds, but in reality, discipline is more about training and guiding children rather than merely punishing them when they misbehave.

Grandparents can help their grandchildren to be well behaved and respectful by giving them a living example to emulate. Children learn a great deal more by observing the people around them than they do by listening to lectures.

Kids who are surrounded by helpful and cooperative adults are likely to behave in a similar manner.

Reasonable Adults

Parents and grandparents have a responsibility to children to show them what is expected of them in terms of behaviour.

If there are varying views about what constitutes acceptable behaviour, grandparents should approach the children’s parents with their concerns when the children aren’t present to avoid the appearance of trying to undermine the parents’ authority with the grandchildren.

In all likelihood, the parents and grandparents are hoping for the same outcome — well behaved, respectful children and a happy family environment, but they may employ different methods of achieving their goals.

The last word must be given to the parents of the children since the ultimate responsibility for their care lies with them, but they may allow some input from grandparents.

In cases where the grandparents strongly feel that their grandchildren are allowed to treat people disrespectfully and the children’s parents do not want the children’s behaviour to be modified, grandparents must decide for themselves whether or not they want to spend a great deal of time with the kids.

While it may be sad to limit the time that they share with their grandchildren, some grandparents find this to be their only solution.

12 thoughts on “Dealing With a Grandchild’s Misbehaviour”

  1. I’d love to hear advice on how to respond to a verbally aggressive, sometimes insulting 8 year old grand child. She seems to be able to switch her behaviour on and off as she chooses. This can be very upsetting.

  2. My son is marring a women with two children. He has two children also. When the family comes to visit it is total chaos.

    They run around the house screaming, slamming door, throwing balls, etc in the house breaking things left and right. They have been told numerous times of the rules of the house but they don’t listen. My husband has even experienced chest pain when they are here.

    Their last destruction was our patio door, shattering it to pieces throwing a rock at it. I love my son but find myself anxiety ridden when they come to visit. My son tries to discipline but his future wife feels it is better to sit the kids down and talk to them trying to reason wish never works, their behaviour only gets worse.

    What can I do, I am at my wits end?

  3. Babs
    I can empathise if you have previously found it easy to have your two grandchildren in the house, but four in the house at the same time especially if they are of a similar age and your house may not be large, can be a lot to take on board if you’re not accustomed to it. You are obviously going to have to take control of the situation in the way that suits you best.

    The first course of action is to sit down with your son and partner and say you’re having problems and try to negotiate the best way forward. Suggestions of meeting them outside at a park etc and making a day of it by visiting somewhere together may be an idea which will occasionally take the pressure off and allow you to chat freely with your son and partner while the kids run their energy off.

    You just have to think outside the box a little, whether that may be moving ornaments and valuables when they come and at the same time commanding respect from the children themselves.

    Rather than let all see you are getting agitated by the children’s behaviour, trying to include the parents in trying to make it work between you all is by far the easiest way. It really is a process of trial and error at first, but I hope you get there soon.


  5. I’ve read some of these comments one in particular saying how can I help my 87-year-old mother who is been verbally abused by her grandchildren, the simple answer to that is you cannot help her she has to do it herself. If the children misbehave they have to have a consequence, if the behaviour does not stop she needs to speak to the parents and if the parents don’t do anything about it then it’s simple the grandchildren don’t go to grandmothers anymore.

  6. My granddaughter is very silly behaviour makes fun of her papa having no teeth makes faces at me punches her mum whenever she wants to do she does ,when ever she wants to leave acts very much like a baby hurts her sister badly I gave my granddaughter a hair band to wear that I had on this did not suite the younger one her mum said take it of , as she does not want you to have on so she got her way again

  7. I need advice.. My husband & I have permanent custody of two granddaughters since Dec 2018 it’s 8/19. The 11 & 12 yr olds are constantly talking back at us. They have been going to counselling but when I let the counsellor know these things how their behaviour is she never talks to them about it.

    Their parents are abusive to each other & drug abuse involved. The girls have seen & heard a lot. My blood pressure stays up. I take them to church they both have been saved but continue the bad behaviour.

    I also take care of my 78 yr old ailing mother. It’s all taking a toll on us. We are both disabled so we don’t work. We are in our late 50s.

    I don’t know what to do anymore talking, disciplining of taking away electronics tv etc does not work. I never allowed my children to talk to me that way I did spank their bottoms. They respected me. My daughter for whom I have her daughters didn’t as she got older & into drugs the children seen that. Need advice please.

  8. My granddaughter is 8 and treats me differently from her other grandparents. She will not talk to me on the phone, but asks to call her other grandparents. She just recently moved away from us.

    She tells me she doesn’t feel like talking when I ask her a question and I cannot find a subject to talk about with her that would get her interested. Do you have any suggestions?

  9. Hi, I have a 2 year old granddaughter who is the apple of my eye, and I am her favourite as well. I live 3 hours away but go to see her about every 5 weeks and talk to her via skype about once a week.

    I admittedly dote on her. The problem is that lately, she has become quite disobedient and combative with her parents when I am around. What am I doing or not doing to cause such a shift in her behaviour?
    – 30-Jun-20 @ 10:14 PM

  10. My 10 yr old daughter is having more rotten days then good these days. She is disrespectful swears destructive and picks on her 2 younger brothers and myself her mom. I have my 3 kids at home online learning due to covid and my daughter the oldest of the 3 has been pushing her limits daily.

    I have taken her phone, she has already broken her laptop & I had to geta loner from the school. My daughter was just away with my mom on the weekend where she was good. She went out shopping and returned home Sunday dinner time everything was okay till the evening routine needed to be followed and she started all over again.

    Now its Monday and she is back at the same behaviour as last week…..I don’t know what to do ….need advise

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