My three-year-old daughter is used to being listened to and being allowed to voice her opinion. However, this was near unacceptable to my mother.
Since my mother often takes care of her (thank you, mum) while I am working, the differences can get difficult. When my daughter expresses her unease, my mother generally makes comments along the lines of “Listen to how you talk!” and “Enough of this!” which does not sit well with my daughter. Lately, their relationship has not been great.
When I return from work, she often seizes the opportunity to tell me immediately all about her hardships, saying things like “Granny is really stupid,” in the presence of my mother.
This does not help their relationship either, of course.
My strategy was to pick her up, take her to the bathroom, and tell her that I understand how hard things are for her, but that it is not OK to hurt granny's feelings like that, and remind her that it is OK to tell me what has happened when granny is not there.
I've found this approach has worked well with friends and other kids, but here. Unfortunately, my mother seemed to make the assumption that I was backing my daughter's opinion in the privacy of the bathroom. So, recently I tried something different.
When she started her usual “Granny is…” talk, I intervened in a playful way, with a version of the vigorous snuggle. I lightheartedly said, “Wait, little one! She is MY mother! My beloved mother! No-one can say anything like that about her!”
I also initiated a little play fighting, standing in front of my mother and pretending to try to ‘protect' her. My daughter loved this and she really went for the game, trying all she could to chase up to her granny. My mother, as well, seemed much more pleased with this reaction.
I've repeated the same intervention over the next few weeks and I can see that their relationship has started to shift to being more positive.
Today, my daughter still complains a lot about her Granny, except now she can hold it in until she's able to share with me privately. In fact, i'm finding that she has become quite fond of staying and spending extra time with my mother.
Do your children act out when you come to pick them up from daycare or a playdate? Find out How to Reconnect after time apart.
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Are you a stressed parent? Get our guide to Hand in Hand's Five Listening Tools and find out how to stop yelling and start connecting, then listening to this free replay for more ideas on what to do if your family don't like your parenting style.