Kids need consistent rules. This can already be a big challenge between husband and wife, but it’s even more difficult when doting grandparents spoil the kids.
Consistent rules start with commitment and discussion. Here are some parenting tips on how to set rules that everyone can follow, and how to get the grandparents on your side. While you can expect a few conflicts, you have one thing going in your favor: all of you care very deeply about the kids, and this love (coupled with a few parenting skills) can help resolve this tricky discipline issue.
Parenting tip # 1: Get the big picture
Parents and grandparents disagree on rules because we all have different styles of discipline or interpretations of what is good and bad, tolerable and unacceptable. It helps if you can first understand where everyone is coming from. For example, if the grandparents tend to break the bedtime rule, then explain why you’re worried (they’re not getting enough rest). They, in turn, can say, ‘We never see them, and we want to make the most of their stay.’ Once you know what the real issue and concern is, you can begin to negotiate and find middle ground. ‘Okay, they can stay up, but please make sure that they have a morning nap.’
Parenting tip # 2: Choose your battles.
You may be willing to be lenient about some rules, but determine your non-negotiables—which are the rules that directly influence the values that matter most to you, or have an impact on your child’s personality and character. For example, you may stand firm on not letting your child watch violent movies, or making the kids finish their homework before watching television.
Parenting tip # 3: Make it easier for them to follow the rule.
Sometimes all it takes to end a discipline battle is to give them a real, practical alternative. For example, if the grandparents tend to sit the kids in front of the television because they don’t have the energy to run after them around the house (which is completely understandable) then get a bunch of board games or a box of crafts supplies, or a model kit that they can assemble together.
Another very practical parenting tip is to make a schedule and have your child agree to it
Ask them what their preferences and negotiate activities to be implemented. When this is done, you do not have to ask ‘When will you do your homework?’ or order them to ‘Do homework now, or else…’ This also acts as a reminder to the grandparents about what they need to do. Instead of telling them, ‘Don’t let them watch too much television!’ the schedule clearly defines what time they can watch.
Parenting tip # 4: Agree on the way to correct your kids.
Setting rules is just one part of consistent discipline. You also need to talk about what to do or say when your child breaks them. Set clear consequences (‘If you don’t do your homework, you can’t watch television tomorrow’). It’s important for kids to associate rules with consequences rather than fear (‘You’re going to get in trouble with your mom’).
Parenting tip # 5: Appreciate the efforts of your parents.
Make them feel that you are partners, working for the same cause to mold the kids to being confident, loving and responsible adults.
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