How to Keep Relatives From Spoiling Your Kids

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It’s natural to want to make children happy, but they also need rules and boundaries. Sometimes well-meaning relatives spoil kids in ways that parents find frustrating or unacceptable. Clearly communicating and attempting to understand each other’s perspectives can help resolve conflicts.

Set Clear Rules and Explain Your Reasons
There are countless perspectives on how to raise children. Relatives might violate what you consider an obvious rule because they have no idea that you consider their behavior a problem. For example, you might think that a child shouldn’t be given dessert if they didn’t eat dinner, but your relatives might not consider that a big deal. You might expect your children to clean up after themselves, but a family member might think your kids aren’t old enough.

Relatives sometimes violate parents’ rules because they don’t understand why the rules exist. If you don’t want your child to skip naps, explain that doing so leads to temper tantrums. If you don’t want your child to have sweets after a particular time, explain that eating sugary foods in the evening affects your child’s sleep and performance in school. Relatives will be more likely to follow your rules if they understand your reasoning.

Think About Why Relatives Spoil Your Kids
Your relatives may have different perspectives on how to raise children. For example, if money was tight when your parents were growing up, they might be inclined to feed their grandchildren too much or buy them expensive gifts. If one of your relatives felt that they didn’t get enough attention as a child because their parents were too busy taking care of other kids, that relative might go overboard trying to make your children feel special.

Be Willing to Compromise
Relatives often want to spend money on children to express their love. If you don’t want your family members to keep buying your kids toys and candy, suggest alternatives, such as new shoes, a musical instrument or art or swimming lessons.

Sometimes it’s okay to bend the rules. You might want your child to adhere to a strict bedtime, but would staying up 15 minutes later to finish playing a game with a relative once in a while really hurt?

Stay Calm
If you have an ongoing problem with a family member spoiling your children, don’t get into a fight about it in front of the kids, as this will most likely embarrass your relative and make the problem worse. Take your family member aside, calmly explain your feelings and look for a compromise.

Communicate With Your Family
If your relatives spoil your kids, it can make parenting more of a challenge. The key is to discuss things openly and listen to each other’s perspectives. Instead of telling relatives no, suggest other ways they can express their love that are consistent with your own rules and values.

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