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Grandma thinks my 3yo DD is bullying her

(17 Posts)
jamsandwich Tue 14-Oct-08 21:03:28

DD tells grandma to "go away/ leave me alone" on regular basis - on first seeing her each visit and then if she comes into room when I'm playing with DD. I've had to help my mum for last year since hospitalisation, so it's pretty clear to me that DD is resentful of my mum taking me away from her - we visit and I get busy with the laundry/ personal care/ shopping etc. My mum is so mortally wounded by these insults that she tells DD not to be so rude and then ignores her for the rest of the visit. So I try to keep visits short, which only makes matters worse. Can't remember last time she played with her/ read a story/ sang a song - all the things they used to do together.

I think "go away" is pretty minor; she does it to most people (even me if DH is reading a story etc) - everyone else seems to understand they just need to back off/ or work through it then she's fine again. But mum thinks it's a sign of crap parenting/ personality disorder/ who knows what. Reached a crisis and have started to tell mum what I think of this and today is first day she did play with her, but DD still says "grandma is angry with me". Anyone else had anything similar? Feel very tempted to drop visits for a while til mum sorts her attitude out and DD gets into a new phase...

Tbh, while I understand that your DD feels resentful towards your Mum, I do think that 3yo is old enough to learn that telling someone to "go away" is rude and hurtful. I know that my Mum would be hurt by this.

I think that you both need to take a step back and try to get the relationship back to a loving and respectful tone.

Is your Mum capable of taking DD out for an hour to have fun with her? Or doing something nice with her?

Perhaps you could do something fun together, all 3 of you.

hecAteTheirBrains Tue 14-Oct-08 21:19:21

I think your mum needs to remember that this is a 3 yr old child - just a baby really, and that she is the adult!

I also think you need to stop your dd being rude to her grandma.

Your mum is maybe feeling pretty low and vulnerable - it can't be nice for her to rely on you so much. Does your mum actually need you to do the laundry etc for her any more? I am assuming not, if you are considering stopping going, so why are you still doing it? It might be better for your mum for you to step out of carer mode and back into (adult) daughter mode, iyswim.

Your own daughter doesn't want to share your attention, which is normal for a young child, but needs addressing. She is old enough to begin to be taught good manners and to share you.

What about putting her into a nursery a couple of afternoons a week? Good for her to socialise and gives you some time too?

Perhaps the 3 of you should also do fun things together? Go to the park, all make stuff? It doesn't have to be either your mother or your daughter getting your attention.

compo Tue 14-Oct-08 21:21:36

I think it's a great idea for your dd to spend some time alone with her grandma
Maybe at her house, on her territory
drop dd off at your mum's while you go shopping
let her be spolit rotten
I think you probably need to take a step back to let the relationship develop

<<hijack>> Hecate, I LOVE your halloween name

Good point about the OP's Mum taking back her "adult" role.

Raggydoll Tue 14-Oct-08 21:33:08

Ignores her for the rest of the visit angry. This is pretty childish behavior from a grownup.

Your mum needs to stop blaming your dd show some empathy and understanding.

I know its easy to say but grandma shouldn't take it personally. Your dd should be told simply that her comments are hurtful and unwelcome and then move on - no grudge holding from the adults!

Both parties have had a rough time lately but your mum is a grown up and your dd is just a small child.

Cathpot Tue 14-Oct-08 21:40:19

Just today my DD1 told her uncle who she likes, and was trying to help her with his binoculars to 'go away' very loudly and rudely. She had had a bad night and was tired and grouchy but I took the binocs , made her apologise and we left early.

Similarly she is sometimes rude to my mum whom she normally has a good relationship with and I pull her up for it. Usually this just means I tell her not to be rude, she apologises, mum accepts and we move on. I have also told my mum to pull her up about it if they are on their own.

I cant imagine letting it slide to be honest asI really think its important that she learns what the normal social boundaries are otherwise she is going to find herself in difficult situations as she gets older. Your daughter is looking to you to see what is acceptable and if you are not pulling her up about it she is going to carry on. Learning to politely put up with people is
an essential skill.

The advice about doing fun stuff with your mum seems sensible, what about taking some cut and stick stuff round or a jigsaw etc. Can you leave her with your mum at all so she is not trying for your attention? It sounds like you also need a calm conversation with your mum as well, if she is telling you it is crap parenting I imagine your hackles are slightly up before you even go in.

People do deal with behaviour in different ways and no doubt on your own you would defuse the situation the way that works best for you, but I do think here you need to address it more directly. 3 is old enough for conversations about how what we say makes other people feel (I have spent some time for instance on why differentiating between grandads as 'grandad with the beard' and 'grandad with the fat tummy' is not the best..) Hope it works out

jamsandwich Tue 14-Oct-08 22:09:41

Thanks everyone - my first time posting so it's good to get such thoughtful replies.

My mum's extremely wobbly (arthritis everywhere + v slow recovery from broken leg) so one of the problems is I don't feel it's safe to leave them together as DD could easily knock her over without realising. Mum can't get down on floor, has to sit with legs up so can't really play at a table - all big barriers to playing. But I agree I do need to progress to me at least being in a different room while they do something together.

Also really interested to hear thoughts that 3yo is old enough to teach about not being rude. I have tried this, but didn't realise that DD (*only just* 3) doesn't really get negatives yet - so telling her not to say go away really confused her and if anything she said it more. I wonder if it's one of those things where it's better to try ignoring the bad behaviour and just boost the good times they have together. We've been working on not hitting/ biting people (me, actually) as I think it's easier for her to grasp why this is wrong - and she has pretty much stopped. It was also easier as she had stickers every day she succeeded, but with this, we only see grandma every week, so weekly stickers wouldn't have much impact.

Also wonder whether telling her not to say go away is really fair as she needs to express how she feels somehow - DD interprets grandma's behaviour as being angry with her (rather than understanding she is hurt), not a nice feeling for 3yo to pick up on. Any thoughts on an alternative thing DD could say?

luckylady74 Tue 14-Oct-08 22:14:53

I know what you mean about repeating it makes it worse, but what you can do is get her to say what she should say ... whatever that is.She does get it a bit 'grandma angry' so focus on what makes grandma happy.
My mil has been known to huff with my 3 yr old dd - yes and that really encourages a bond not!

Your DD needs to learn at some point that while her feelings are valid, and can be expressed, that sometimes they can be hurtful to others. Around 3yo is about the right time to teach this, imo. That is when children often start to feel embarrassed or upset if we laugh at their behaviour.

My DS said, very loudly, the other day, "That man over there is very fat, isn't he" blush. He is 4yo and we had a chat about being impolite about other people and how he would feel if someone said that he looked silly.

I do think that your Mum has to have a think about her reaction too. Going in the huff is not goign to help the situation, in fact it is just giving your DD what she wants.

Is there anything that your DD really loves to do, that she could do with your Mum?

Could you have a ladies day out, go to a cafe and have coffee/hot choc. My DD loves doing things just with my Mum and me, without the men (said in a disgusted voice)

I just remembered, when DD started kindergarten, they did a project about feelings and how to express them. They did some great games, they made a "feelings clock" with the hands pointing to a happy/grumpy/sad/angry face. They made "feelings memory" with cards of photos of them looking happy/grumpy/sad/angry.
They talked a lot about their feelings and how it is when someone makes you feel sad or angry.

It really helped DD to see that it is good to have different feeligns and that they should not be suppressed, but that other people have feelings too and it is not good to hurt them.

Cathpot Tue 14-Oct-08 22:31:52

I take your point about language skills , my DD is also 3 but only a few weeks off 4 and that makes a big big difference at this age. I have worked on 'no thankyou' as a way of getting round her snapping 'no' at people. It usually goes
my mum 'do you want help with that?'
DD1 snappy ' no'
me 'nooo....?'
DD1 'no thankyou'
job done move on

I have to say if I dont get the no thankyou part in something resembling a polite delivery (ie not screeched) then I remove her from the situation - usually very briefly until she is prepared to play ball. In your situation she may want your attention at any price so may be better for your mum to deal with it and you not be in the room. Is that even practical?

Also your mum not being mobile is tricky, but could you your daughter sit next to her on the sofa and have a book read? You could get a new one out of the library each week and your mum could be the first one to go through it. Or a game that is ok on laps, something with a magnetic board or colouring in books on one of those lap trays for having your TV dinner - they could have one each? Dressing up dolls? Snap? Maybe get a bag of things that you think your daughter would love and that are practical and leave it at your mums, so it could be 'we're off to granny's and you can play xxxx with her'

I think if you said to your mum you wanted to work on the situation and make your mum the centre of attention for your DD during the visit she would also feel molified and be better able to deal with her in a productive way. You could dicuss what she could say in response to rudeness. Keep it simple. Please dont say that to me. That makes me feel sad. And work on getting a sorry, then straight back into some fun activity. Your mum could easily not rise to her, without outright ignoring her.

It sounds like you have done really well with the hitting and biting and that is often a really hard one to crack so I am sure you will be able to sort this out.

pointygravedogger Tue 14-Oct-08 22:33:26

Sound slike you have two young children on your hands. Your mum sounds as unsteady and emotioanlly uncertain as a 3 year old.

If your mother is frail and canno do much with dd then I think it may well be hard for dd to get much pleasure from her grandma's company.

Your mum needs to take these remarks less personally as she is the adult. Is that possible?

jamsandwich Wed 15-Oct-08 22:48:58

great replies, thanks and lots of food for thought. I'm definitely going to go and get some fun things for them to do together, like the idea of a bag of special things that live at grandma's. And also want to try MmeTussauds idea re the feelings clock etc. No quick fix of course, but it's good to have a plan of action!

jangly Wed 15-Oct-08 23:03:35

Yep, this kind of thing happened to me with one of my dgs's. He would be quite mean to me a lot of the time and it was hurtful. You just have to stick at it though. When he said "I don't love you" I would say, "that's ok, I still love you". You just have to carry on doing all the things you know you should do and want to do, like playing shops, the animal game in the car, etc. etc., and gradually they come out of it. Dgs is seven now and we're great pals. I think in time they come to realise that you love them a lot and that, really, they love you. Just don't give up.

sunnygirl1412 Thu 16-Oct-08 12:49:43

Perhaps your mum could get out the photo albums with pictures of you as a child. If she opens with 'would you like to see a picture of mummy when she was your age', she could move on to telling stories about you when you were young.

jamsandwich Mon 20-Oct-08 21:56:28

Oh God, back to square one.
I went, armed with special toys which DD hasn't seen and for grandma to present with a flourish for some important bonding. But, grandma wasn't in her usual chair when we arrived, DD got settled in the lounge, then grandma walks in, all friendly, to receive a barrage of "leave me alone" complete with aggressive arm movements. Really horrible. I told her she was being rude, took her toy away each time until she stopped completely.
Meanwhile, grandma, in a huff, behind her newspaper and there she stayed for the next 20 mins despite my cajoling. DD, all back to normal after her outburst (must just feel better to get it off her chest) starts sweetly showing her dolls, but of course grandma missed all this, just me pointedly saying, between gritted teeth - "look grandma, another lovely doll..." until we got a reaction.
We were there to play with Grandma and yet she was ignoring us. It got a bit better later, but by then, DD has had the message reinforced once more that "grandma is angry with me".
Forgot Cathpot's suggestion of trying to get a "sorry" out of her - might help to signal the end of an episode and make grandma forgive and move on. It feels so unfair to have another source of hassle to deal with - as if bringing up a toddler isn't enough trouble.

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