We continue to look at Chapter 6 of "GRANDPARENTS AS PARENTS" in this blog. If there is a theme to this chapter overall, it might be stated, "children need a combination of nurturing and discipline." Here Sylvie takes up the topic of overcompensation. This is a pitfall to raising your grandchild when you try to make him happy every moment by always giving him what he wants. However, she says, you'll find that you can't educate him and spoil him at the same time. Furthermore, grandparents who overcompensate do so both emotionally and physically. One must not overlook setting limits.
In Parenting 101, Sylvie sets the stage for her remarks with the following statement: "Children have changed. Through the Internet, television and other media, this generation knows more about sex, violence, and the world around them and at an earlier age than their parents did. And if your grandchildren came from a drug-using or abusive home, they may know even more about the adult world than other kids their age. The threats of drugs, gangs and disease, combined with peer pressure, create additional parenting problems you weren't faced with 20 to 30 years ago, as can new challenges caused by rapidly changing technology."
She cautions about the use of physical punishment; and advocates reinforcing good behavior with praise and rewards; time-out is a calming technique that can be tailored to the age of the child; Sylvie recommends using natural consequences that flow from the child's behavior. Make consequences natural, logical and appropriate so children will learn to be responsible for their behavior. The goal is to teach responsibility; Pick your battles-- "If you make each and every improper action into a crisis, you'll only squander your energy and foster a terrible relationship with your grandchild." For older children, do not neglect speaking to both boys and girls about sexual matters at their age level.
The Virtual World. The bottom line-- technology changes parenting. Whatever technology your grandchild is using, get fluent with it. Texting, social networking, gaming-- all of these present opportunities to pull up a second chair, so to speak. Show them what you're doing on the computer, and ask them to teach you what they know, if they know more. It is critical to teach about online safety, and to supervise what your child is doing online. Set clear expectations and boundaries, just as you would with bedtime, curfews, and public behavior.
The hyperactive grandchild can be demonstrating signs of his difficulties as early as 2 or 3 years old. ADHD affects as many as 9 percent of school-age children. It is believed to be a neurological condition caused by heredity, medical problems or prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol. "Simply put, children with ADHD have trouble concentrating, completing a task, sitting still and focusing." A lot of kids labeled with ADHD may be suffering from grief, loss and trauma. One main issue under debate is the use of prescription medications. Sylvie presents both sides of the issue, and recommends that the child be evaluated by a well-trained professional. She provides a checklist of symptoms that could indicate ADHD.
Likewise, Sylvie lists a number of factors that could indicate when a child needs professional therapy. She concludes: "My own feeling is that most children who are taken in by grandparents could use some kind of counseling to handle the adjustment." She also discusses when a grandparent's care is not enough to manage an emotionally disturbed child. For these kids, residential placement is an option.
Silvia ends this chapter with an upbeat, encouraging statement: "Many children thrive under their grandparent's care-- even those who were abandoned and abused. Children report feeling "safe, cared for, and loved." While they had felt rejection and disappointment in their parents, as they grew, they also "had friends, expressed themselves artistically, were achieving in school and sports, and were optimistic about the future." Quite a number of grandparents are really doing a good job raising their grandchildren.