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Dilemma: my grandchildren don't do as they're told

Katharine Whitehorn / 29 January 2016

Agony aunt Katharine Whitehorn hears from a grandmother who is fed up with her unruly grandchildren not doing what they're told.

Naughty child
A reader finds her unruly grandchildren difficult to manage

Dilemma: unruly grandchildren

I have two grandchildren who spend the day with me quite often and occasionally stay overnight. 

I love them and I think they like me, but they are treated very freely at home – for example, if they don’t like the food, they not only aren’t made to finish it up, but quite often offered something else. 

They seem to have to be told six times to do anything and bedtime is usually a battle. 

I don’t know how much I should try to make them behave better, but it does sometimes wear me down! 

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

You can’t change the way they’re being brought up; but you can lay down a few ground rules. 

Obviously you cook them the food you hope they’ll like, but if they won’t eat it, just let them leave it and don’t offer anything else. 

Similarly with bedtimes: you can say “Here we go to bed at nine,” or whatever it is, firmly turn off the light. 

Children do adapt to the idea of Gran’s rules, of one home being different from another – indeed, it’s a useful lesson for them to learn. 

And if something really annoys you, like chewing gum or shouting, just say it’s not to be done around you and that’s that.

Read our tips for handling spoilt grandchildren

Our readers say...

We also asked our Facebook followers for their advice...

"All my grandchildren know, my house, my rules. They usually eat everything they are given and come back for more. Sweets are a rare treat, but they do have them. Bedtime, "you go to bed to go to sleep and not to mess about" I am really lucky when I here the nightmare stories of some of our friends grandchildren's behaviour."

"I was always a bit hurt when my Dad said he preferred to have my three girls without parents. Now I understand how, on your own you build a relationship with them. When no parent, and no vying for adult attention to come to them, it's so much easier. Oh dear have I just dropped myself into more childminding!! C'est la vie."

"You are in charge, and they need to know that. I've got 14 grandchildren, everyone is as good as gold, don't ever have any bad behaviour."

"Nannie's house, nannie's rules, if you don't want your dinner then you can't be hungry, but you must have your drink, bedtime is time to recharge our batteries, night night sleep tight. Always works a treat."

"Your home, your rules. They will eventually learn that you mean what you say. Never easy, but if you want to keep them coming over, you mustn't wear yourself out. Best of luck."

"I rarely have to have a one-way conversation to my grandbabies. Five grandbabies and just two one-way conversations."

"Mine have always been good - well-trained by their parents!"

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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