Dear Grandparenting: I have a ways to go caring for my little granddaughter, Ashley. My daughter drops Ashley off on her way to work Monday, Tuesday and Friday. That gives me a breather, but it is not getting any easier. Some days it is all I can do to just cope, to be quite honest. I might even take some medicine to calm my nerves.
Let’s get real. I am way out of practice handling small children and way too old to be caring for a 22-month-old three days a week. I didn’t ask for any of this. It just sort of happened because my daughter needs to work to support herself and can’t afford much daycare. That’s what grandmothers are good for I guess.
I try, but have been known to go nuts when Ashley starts with the carrying on because she is unhappy about something or other. I get angry with Melanie and then angry with myself for letting her rile me up. I am positive you have dealt with this situation before. How can I get on top of this? Bunny, Nashville, Tennessee
Dear Bunny: Hands-on grandparenting isn’t for everyone, and three long shifts a week can crumple the best of them. But as more grandparents across the nation are unexpectedly thrust into a major caretaker role, plenty of your peers carry that same weight.
Taming unruly grandchildren is frequently tricky. They may be accustomed to having the run of the place, and grandparents can be timid about meting out punishment, or over-react and lose temper. Outbursts create a climate of stress and fear while teaching children to ignore your regular speech cadence. Everybody loses.
In our experience, good discipline means repeating simple rules like “no throwing” and then stopping the action at the first violation. Instead of reacting again and again, try a proactive approach built on distraction and prevention. Distraction is the use of a substitute toy or activity that engages the child and separates her from the problem at hand. By prevention, we mean removing the child from situations she can’t handle, or distancing the situation from the child. Many caretakers use a “quiet chair” when children need calming. Don’t make the chair seem like punishment — position it nearby, just a little removed.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Delta Miller from Fishkill, New York, follows her routine when she “gets in too deep with my noisy little grandchildren. I just take two aspirin and follow the instructions on the bottle’s warning label that reads ‘keep away from children.’ After 30 minutes, I’m good to go again.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.