Q: I have twin boys, age 9, and I have a question about how I should handle their grandparents. I feel like both sets of grandparents spoil the boys and it is difficult to get them to follow the rules that my husband and I have set. It makes life harder when the boys are there because they act up and they do not listen. I always seem to hear, “They were fine until you got here!” I love them and I do not want to hurt their feelings. What can I do?
A: I think everyone has had this problem and not just with grandparents. It could come from teachers, friends and babysitters too. There is a magical force in the universe that sometimes turns our children into angels when we are not around. LOL! I have personally heard this same sentence from my own mother on many an occasion. It’s as if I no more than pull into the driveway and a signal goes off to alert my child it’s time act like a crazy person. I do not know that I have a quick fix or solution for you on this particular issue. I would suggest that it really helps being on the same page with the grandparents. The discipline you use needs to be universal. If you don’t want your child to have sweets or candy, then make sure that they know what your rules are and how important they are to you. Let them know ahead of time what consequences there might be if they choose to not follow your rules. And I have heard from several parents before that simply say, the grandparents will not abide by the rules that they want to be enforced. I think that this situation involves give and take on both sides. Grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren. I think that the love between a grandparent and a grandchild is so unique and different than it is between a parent and child. I think it is so important for children to know their grandparents, respect them and love them. However, at the same time, there has to be a level of respect between you and your parents as well. I would say pick your battles wisely but also let them spoil them a little. Find a nice balance.
Q: My 3-year-old whines constantly. It drives me crazy. Do you have any tips to stop the whining?
A: Whining to a parent is like nails on a chalkboard. It grates on the nerves. Children this young think that whining is the way to get what they want and I often think they do not even realize they are doing it. It reminds me of my own child when she says, “But I said I was sorry!” Thinking this is the magic answer to all her problems and it fixes everything. There are options to whining such as putting the child in time out, a little swat on the bottom, taking away a toy or just ignoring their request. But most of the time, I do not think that these options are very helpful. My suggestion is you can teach your children the difference between a whiney voice and a big voice. You can model the difference for them and make a game of it. In your best whiney voice, you can say, “But mommy…I want it now! Pleeezzzzzzzz!!!!!” Then you can say, “Mommy, may I please have this?” Another technique is to go deaf when they whine. You can tell them that you only hear children that use their big voice and not the little squeaky, whiney one. And if this continues, you can become a broken record and repeat over and over, “Why can’t I hear you?” Eventually they will understand that you only listen to children who use their big voices.
Q: My son is 11 and he will be in middle school this fall. I have highly encouraged him to try out for basketball, choir or any extracurricular activity. He says he is not interested and he might do it next year. I’m thinking he needs this for his future and it will help him make friends. Should I push him more or let it go?
A: Every parent always wants the best for their kids. We think that if they are on the basketball team then, it will somehow help them wade the unknown waters that is middle school. I think we all do this if we have kids. We want them to have many friends and we want them to be involved in lots of activities. It is funny because I was just thinking about this situation the other day. Owensboro is a sports town. And I think when we have kids, our lives overlap to what they have going on. But some kids are just not interested in sport types of activities. And for us as parents, this is a hard pill to swallow because as hectic and crazy as it can get, we love all those activities. There is nothing better than watching your kid excel at a sporting event. We are filled with pride.
I don’t think you should push him. I think if he really wants to play a sport, he will tell you. However, at the same time, you know your child best. If he is the type of kid that needs the extra encouragement, then that is what you should do. Encourage, but probably not force him into it. I know it is hard to sit back and let them wade the waters, but it’s part of growing up. And I think once your child has the lay of the land, his own interests will shine through. Best of luck!