Friday, June 1, 2012

Five year old does not mind and won't go to bed!

Dear Kay,

My 40 yr old divorced son and my 5 yr old grandchild are coming for 2 weeks to visit. This child's bad behavior and my sons lack of being able to discipline her due to his ex-wife's refusal caused the divorce. This child has for 3 years refused to do what anyone asks her to. She has been allowed to make deals where she sets up the rules and is in charge. They have a bedtime routine but nothing will pacify her. Her mom does what the child asks and then makes deals with her. If she will not get up then tomorrow this reward will happen.

I can not stand to have this child here. I have never had a child or grandchild that refused to mind me. My son is on medication. He also battles with this child and is not allowed by his ex to discipline her as he sees fit (a swat on her bottom to get her attention)It takes an average of 3 hours to get her down and this is after more potty time, drinks, screaming, yelling banging the door and even vomiting. I need advice ASAP.
Nervous Grandma

Dear Dianne:

You will not like my answer. This, “I can not stand to have this child here." Is your problem. Regardless of how these parents are raising this child I am appalled that having a child who minds you perfectly all the time is your preference to having the child not be around.

I feel very sorry for this child. Not only does the child have two parents who don't know how to parent now the child has a grandparent who resents it for not being the best it can be under the circumstances (the parents are divorced). Is this really how you want your relationship to be with your grandchild? Full of resentment about how its parents are or are not raising it?

Dianne, you do not have control over the parents and you will not have control over this child. What you do have control over is how you respond to this child. You are the grandparent! You have a very unique opportunity to make a world of difference to this child. It won't be easy, say what you mean and mean what you say. It doesn't matter who is not doing what or what the others are doing all that matters is building wonderful memories between you and your grandchild.

First you need to drop the attitude a 5 year old with an attitude will be enough to deal with and more than either of you needs.

Second, children respond well to rules. 3 rules I suggest are:
1. You may not hurt yourself,
2. You may not hurt anyone else,
3. You may not destroy property.

This usually covers most everything and everything else is negotiable.

The number 1 most important thing to remember is to PICK YOUR BATTLES WISELY. It is not important to have a perfect child, a perfect visit or a perfect relationship. What is important is for the child to know you want them around, you want to spend time with them and you accept them.

Do things that 5 year old like to do (ask this 5 year old what it wants to do). Spend as much time as possibly doing fun things and then let them help you do things you have to do. My 6 year old granddaughter thinks it is great fun to help me load the dishwasher (who knew?).

As for bedtime, here is the best way to gear a child for bed. Turn down the environment. Turn off the TV, radio, computer or any other noisemaker at least an hour before bedtime. Engage with the child in reading or some other easy activity which is not going to charge up their body. Then a bath is a must. Bathing is a must because their body temperature drops and this is why most of us get sleepy after a bath. A full body massage is another routine activity which sends a message to the child's brain that it is time to go to sleep. It also relaxes all those muscles which have played and tensed up all day long. Soft music, great smells, hugs and a quiet story should put this 5 year old out like a light! Feel free to peruse other answers for people who had questions about bedtime routines. Focus on the activities and not the schedule.

Children want nothing more than your time, your love and your attention. If you can focus on this more than how you think everyone else should be raising this child you will be the best memories they have and when we all reach the end of life what better thing could anyone say about you?

Do have fun! Life is too short to do anything else.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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