Handling Disrespectful Behavior of Grandkids

Question:

We have been very involved with our oldest two grandchildren – boys age 10 and 12. The 12-year-old is starting to deal with things that are expected at that age. However, he has begun being critical and disrespectful toward us at times.

Sometimes we let it go. At other times we feel compelled to tell him that his behavior is not acceptable. We would appreciate help with knowing the best way to deal with this.

Response:

Yes, this is the age when pre-teens often begin to push back against authority figures in their lives. It is important for you to continue to set limits on critical and disrespectful behavior. However, how you do that is the key.

First, you should speak with his parents and ask them if they see the same behavior in their home, and if so, how they handle it. Encourage them to talk with your grandson (with or without you present) and reinforce that he should be respectful toward you in your home.

They might also want to remind your grandson, gently, what he should appreciate about the two of you. Often kids don’t realize that they are being disrespectful, so your grandson may need to learn which behaviors are perceived as critical and disrespectful and how to respond in a better way.

When your grandson is in your home and is communicating in negative ways with you:

  1. Calmly and directly address your concern. Say “It is not ok for you to speak to us that way.”
  2. State the expectation for behavior of both of you. Say “We always try to communicate respectfully with you and we expect you to be respectful toward us as well.”
  3. Provide a solution. Say “We’ll be happy to talk with you about anything as long as you communicate without being critical or disrespectful.”

Side Note Example: My husband and I went through this with one of our daughters when she was (surprise) 12 years old. She did not respond particularly well at first and we had to endure some grumbling and mild temper tantrums, but we continued to give the same message consistently. After about 6 months, she came to us, apologized for her disrespectful behavior, and to this day (she is now 38), we all laugh about some of the funny ways she pushed back. Most kids respond well to consistent and respectful discipline.

2 thoughts on “Handling Disrespectful Behavior of Grandkids”

  1. We visited our son and his family from out-of-state twice a month. Every time we visited, we brought toys and books for our 4 years old grandson. If he doesn’t like our gifts, he would who throws a temper tantrum by tossing our gifts to the floor and said “ I don’t like them!”.

    My son and daughter-in-law were present but didn’t intervene.
    We were shocked and didn’t know how to react. Please advice.

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