Out of control grandchild

texkickingbirdMarch 23, 2008

My 31/2 granddaughter is out of control. At least it seems that way to me - on the outside looking in and I know things are always different that way.

GD is an only child, a true miracle baby. Because of health issues , my daughter tried for many years (and had a miscarriage) before this baby was born. There probably will not be a sibling. Daughter has said that since this will probably be the only one, they intend to spoil her as much at they want to.

Her parents believe in a child raising technique called Gentle Disciple. I won't go into the details, but it doesn't seem to be working. It seems more like no disciple. While I am trying to follow their rules and example,it seems like there should be at least some disciple.

Let me give you some examples:

1) If GD doesn't immediately get her own way, she throws a tantrum and screams. Yes, I know that part is normal. But it is over the smallest things. She asks for milk, I give her milk, she immediately dumps the cup and says she really wanted juice and then screams. My rule would be have GD help clean up the mess and then give water. Mom's rule says I clean up the mess, and say "Oh you really want juice. OK" and give her the juice. Follow the rule - here's the fresh cup of juice -- and it is thrown across the table. And then she screams about wanting a different juice.

2)We go out to dinner, parents, gd, grandparents. GD is asked what she wants for dinner. She says chicken nuggets. They reply that it is not on the menu. She goes into a rage and slugs dear dad in the nose -- hard enough to redden it and knock his glasses crooked. He takes her hand away and says he is sorry there are no chicken nuggets. No word about the hitting.

3) Still at dinner. They have ordered her a full entree of chicken strips. She takes the chicken and throws it at grandpa. (Every meal we have ever had with them, she throws food at grandpa). They do not remove her plate, do not admonish not to throw food. They say, "Oh she is just too young to understand not to throw food."

4) I have taken her out to supper at the mall. We have had dinner and ridden the carousel. It is time to go and we are walking through the parking lot to the car. I am holding her hand for safety. She doesn't want her hand held. If I let go, she will run -- and I certainly cannot keep up. So I hold on. She then begins screaming and literally falls to the pavement-- in the middle of the road. My other hand is full with my purse, her new toys, and the remainder of her dinner. I cannot pick her up with one hand! I tried. She is too heavy. I cannot walk to the side and deposit my stuff because a car will not see her in the dusky twilight. I drop my purse in the road to pick her up, but now cannot get my purse and things picked back up. The car is too far to leave my purse and come back for it. So basically I just stood over her, until she decided to get up. Luckily I didn't have to deal with a car. She pulled this trick twice. I asked my daughter what I should have done, how I could handle this better. She said I should not have allowed gd to fall to the pavement and should have been carrying her.

5)I am babysitting. I am sitting on the chair, looking away from where gd is playing. Unknown to me, GD starts playing in the dirty cat litter. She takes two big handfuls and comes over and dumps in over my head. I am mad and send her to her room while I calm down. Mom's reaction later "Remember sweetie, we don't play in the cat litter."

6)She routinely hits, kicks, and chokes other children. Mom ask's "Did little Billy take your toy and upset you? Little Billy, you should play nicely".

7) She automatically does the exact opposite of any request from her parents. They never tell her what to do. they only make requests. "Would you like to go to bed?" "NO" This too seems fairly normal on the surface as I type it, but with this little girl it is different somehow, in a way that I can't explain.

8) She has been taught that she does not need to take direction from me.

9) GD will not allow anyone to touch her hair, so her hair goes uncombed day after day after day. Until it is such a tangle that they must both hold her down so one can brush her hair. It goes uncombed after a bath and it is fairly long.

10)I enrolled her in a cheerleading class for 3 year olds. She would not sit with the other girls. She would not take direction from the teacher. The rule was that parents were not to stay in the room during the class, there were pleney of helpers and the girls generally did better without the parents watching, but after the second week I was told I needed to stay and watch her. she would deliberately run full speed at a child with her arms stretched open wide, and only veer away at the last second. If she "accidently" hit someone, she said it was the other girls fault for not moving. I always had to remove her from the 25 minute class after 10 minutes. One day I asked her if she liked the class. She said "NO". I asked why? "Because that tall lady (the teacher) tried to tell me what to do". There was only 1 class left, so we finished but I have not enrolled her in any more classes.

These are just a few examples. I know this is long, but I am worried about this child. I am hesitant to take her anywhere for safety reasons. Then my daughter complains that I don't want to be with gd. That is so far from the truth that it breaks my heart. How can I keep her safe if I can't exert a reasonable amount of control?

I cannot say anything to the parents. I tried once and the response was that I was being overly critical and unreasonable. Is my thinking so out of touch that I am the one with blinders on? Is this how today's children behave? If so, then I must change my own attitude, because I am the only one I have power to change.

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I'm so sorry for you. This is tragic, and the biggest eventual impact will be on the child. She's in for a big awakening when she faces "real life". What a horrible situation.

Frankly, although I can certainly understand your desire to be with your grandchild, I don't think there's any way I'd want to spend time with this kid. You don't enjoy her, she doesn't enjoy you (perhaps I'm extrapolating something that's not there, but I don't see where any enjoyment would come from).

Your daughter and her husband have somehow decided that it's ok to spoil her. I think the term "spoil" has lost impact. Spoil also means ruin. They're ruining their child. People will not want to be with her and she'll be a very lonely, unhappy little girl, then bigger girl, then adult.

I don't at all see that your thinking is out of touch. They're raising a brat, and it's not the child's fault; it's theirs.

Sorry that I don't have any advice, and I don't mean to judge, but I guess that's what I've done. Why in the world would they think "spoiling" her would do, without teaching her how to be a socially acceptible, lovable person? Yup, they're ruining her.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 4:47PM
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Sadly, I totally agree with Suzieque. And sadder yet, there probably isn't anything you can do.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 3:31PM
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This sounds horrible. And probably there isn't much you can do about it.

However, you might google "Gentle Discipline" and learn more about this method. If there's a forum, you might present some of these problems. If there is an 'ask the expert portion" maybe you could ask also.

But I doubt your daughter will be very receptive to much imput from you. I remember being in a bookstore at Xmas and seeing 2 4 years old boys running amok among stacks of books. Their mother was weakly saying, "Darling, please, darling, please". Finally, an employee told the kids to knock it off, and the mother leaned closer to the employee confidentially: "I'm so glad you said something."

I also have a friend who is deaf and got a divorce and whose mother thinks her granddaughter is the poorest most put upon little thing on earth. Poor steffi, from a broken family. Poor Steffi, who mother is deaf.

Poor Steffi sounds just like your granddaughter, and I have to say, now that Poor Steffi is 8, things are not going so well for her. She's a bully at school, has few friends, is disliked by teachers, in therapy, and a month or so ago this friend actually had to call the police on her daughter. (Friend lives out of state, so I don't know the whole story yet). Friends had to cut off bad-influence grandma who would insist Steffi be allowed to do whatever she wanted even as Mom was saying no. Grandma would actually fight with mom over it infront of poor Steffi.

As re your granddaughter, I'd stick to things that actually affect your directly: such as the food being thrown. No one should have to endure getting food thrown at them. You may try talking to your daughter again, or maybe choose not to share dinners until Steffi is old enough not to throw food (how old would that be, btw)

Also, you may want all your visiting to be done in house when your daughter is available to do the disciplining. Maybe stop taking your granddaughter on trips to the mall until your granddaughter can be relied upon to behave.

My nephew did something once similar to your mall experience. He stubbed his toe (abt age 7) and fell on the ground clutching it and howling, all out of proportion to the pain even the most severe toe stubbing could cause. I stood and watched him and once when he peered out at me, I said: "What are you doing!" He said, "My toe hurts, my toe hurts." I said: "Why are you crying so much." He said, "I always cry a lot." Me: "Really? Why?" Him: "Because I'm very sensitive." Me: "Well, I'm sensitive too and that noise hurts by ears. Why don't you go in the bedroom and do it." He looked shocked. "I'm done now." Me: "Just the same, you must have worn yourself out yelling like that. You need to lay down for a half hour and get collected."

I can't say we are very close, but he's not close with hardly anyone. (At age 9 he fell on the ground because his grandmother wouldn't give him ice cream at 10 am. I walked up on him thrashing about on the floor and my MIL hoovering anxiously trying to get him to stop. She couldn't even get him an ice cream because the store was closed. As I walked up to them, I heard him howl: "Who do you think you are talking to?" This coming from a 9 year old to his 65 year old grandmother. Me, I would have answered, "I'm talking to a 9 year old who's about to spend his day writing sentences. Why? Who do you think YOU'RE talking to?" But I figured it wasn't my problem, or my drama. It was between grandma, grandson and ultimately mom and dad.

The boy is now eleven and not doing well, has school social workrs and therapists and may have to go to a special school for emotionally troubled kids.

It's too bad. I feel for you, but I don't think there's much you can do but protect yourself furtively, and hope when the inevitable happens, it isn't too bad.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 5:59PM
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Thanks for your input.

I have looked up Gentle Discipline. There is a large online group and you must be a member to post. To be a member, you must go through a long questionnaire asserting that you "agree" with their child rearing methods before they will approve your membership. My daughter is part of this group. So, even if I could sign in, it would feel like eavesdropping and spying. I do know that she asks this group a lot of child rearing questions --instead of me.

As much as I hate to admit it, I now severely limit my contact with the whole family. I do not take her anywhere, we rarely join them for meals. I save babysitting for extreme circumstances and at her house only.

When I am in charge of her, I follow my own rules and expect her to learn how to behave with Grandma. I do not spank,and I do not raise my voice. One thing she has learned from me is that we don't do anything -- anything at all -- until after our first game "Beauty Shop", where she is learning to sit and let me comb out her hair. Just one small step at a time, and hopefully I can make a small difference.

My husband, her grandpa, works with school age children like this every day. And the stories he tells are heartbreaking. We don't want this little one to be a bully and a threat to others. So even though we are limiting contact, we watch and pray and do what little we can.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 7:48PM
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Why don't you tell your daughter you were interested in her child rearing methods and went online to research them, and came across this group/forum that specializes in Gentle Discipline. Ask her if she'd ever heard of it and would she think it would be helpful for you to learn how to better support her and her husband and learn how to be consistant in encouraging your granddaughter.

If you daughter encourages you to join the group, join. You'd have to be tactful about any posting, in fact, it might be best to run your ideas past your daughter first. "Darling GD threw food at Papi tonight at the table. I wasn't sure how to handle it. Would this be a good question to submit to the group." Take your daughter's lead on this. If your daughter's not supportive of your participation, you've lost nothing. If she's receptive, perhaps you can very delicately focus attention of a couple of your greatest concerns.

I would NEVER bring up an incident that happened with your GD when her parents around, only incidents that occurred when you or your husband were alone with the granddaughter. You can humbly claim to be clumsy at handling her, but should never imply that your daughter doesn't know what she's doing.

If your daughter doesn't like this idea, then you are no worse off than you are now.

I'm sorry you have this happening. The best thing to do is to keep a good relationship open with your granddaughter and daughter, so that you have the best relationship under the circumstances. Then when the child is old enough to reason with you may be able to gently guide her through some of the trauma that is coming her way.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 9:08PM
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