GRANDPARENTS AS PARENTS, CHAPTER 6. What care giver doesn't have questions about disciplining a child? Silvia approaches this topic in chapter 6 called, "Your Troubled Child." She focuses on what your grandchild is feeling; While addressing behavior problems is your goal, understanding your child's behavior is the key to providing what she needs. Silvie writes, "every case of grandparents raising grandchildren is somehow about loss." When we consider this, it is easier to provide reassurance, nurturing and acceptance to a grieving child. Perhaps the parent died, or perhaps the parent is out of the family picture temporarily or permanently. In either case, the best response to a grieving child and the emotions that he is grappling with is to do things to sure up his low self-esteem. A child needs to be reassured that you will not leave them and that they are safe. "Use positive reinforcement and praise," and provide consistency and routine as well.
Children can feel a tremendous amount of guilt. Help your grandchild to understand that they are not the cause, and they are not to blame for their parent's absence. Again the key is reassurance and positive reinforcement.
Grandparents are often the target of a child's anger. You may be the one to begin enforcing rules, limits and structure in their life, and this can be a big change, that is not always welcome. Try not to take their anger personally, you are also their lifeline. If an angry child threatens someone, this is a sign of a child in crisis, and it is time to see a therapist.
Other common emotional issues are fear, anxiety, and insecurity. "Reassuring frightened children takes time, patience and consistency-- not just the reassuring consistency of reassuring words and hugs but of three meals a day, regular school hours, and a stable routine." Your grandkids may also deal with embarrassment, flowing from the prying questions of other kids, such as 'where is your mommy'? "Teach your grandchildren that they don't have to answer questions that make them uncomfortable." Also, it is normal for your grandchildren to have hopes and dreams, and to be disappointed when they don't come true. Let them know that you understand and you will be there for them.
Besides addressing the myriad emotions that your grandchild is feeling, Sylvie devotes careful attention to COMMON BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS. She begins by stressing that "if they can talk about being hurt, or angry or frightened, they are less likely to channel those feelings into inappropriate or negative behavior." When their feelings are too big or too numerous, behavior problems can result. Excessive clinging is a sign that a child needs to trust again and feel secure. Sleeping problems can manifest, such as nightmares, fear of the dark, and wanting to sleep with grandparents. These are unspoken cries for security, and your grandchild needs reassurance, nurturing and trust. Eating problems may occur especially if the child may not have had enough to eat before they came to you. Eating too much or too fast, hoarding food, and power struggles over eating are all indications that there are psychological or medical problems afoot. But these can be sorted out by a caring grandparent who provides reassurance and consistency around mealtimes and making nourishing food available.
In this chapter, Silvie also addresses babyish behavior, and a child "wanting to call you mom and dad." Concerning tests and manipulation, she says, "All children test limits; it's how they discover the boundaries in their world." You may cope by: setting a clear, daily routine; offering positive choices; stating rules in the positive; setting limits and sticking to them; presenting a unified front; learning to recognize manipulation; separating feelings and actions; and learning to stay calm.
TO BE CONTINUED...