Everyone has different ideas about how to bring up children. Friends are less likely to overstep the mark, but your family may sometimes be a different matter. Often family love to spoil your child in ways that you may not be comfortable with, such as extravagant gifts, giving them snacks that you don’t want your child to have, allowing too much screen time or relaxing routines that you’ve put in place. There’s no doubt that they do so with the best of intentions, but how do you go about addressing this in the kindest way.
Respecting the role of parents
A conversation is normally the key to dealing with this challenge…
Communicate openly as soon as possible: Don’t expect people to read your mind; tell them what is and isn’t acceptable. For instance, if you don’t want your children to be given sweets or ice cream, then say so. If your family is bringing too many presents, tell them gently that this isn’t what you want, but you do appreciate the gesture.
Offer alternatives: Highlight that instead of using unsuitable food as a treat, you could ask them to treat your child by doing something together, such as a walk to the park.
Explain the consequences: Many people don’t realise that their best intentions aren’t necessarily great for a child. Your ‘no sweets after dinner’ rule that’s ignored might lead to over excitement from a bedtime sugar rush, with a knock-on effect for the next day. Explaining why you don’t want things done is far more beneficial than just asking them not to do it.
Have discussions away from the children: it’s far easier to speak openly when your child isn’t present. Your family is less likely to feel like they’re being judged if you take this approach and it’s also important to remember that even very young children are aware of conversations that you have in front of them.
Early learning centres such as a Nido Early School can support you, as they are always available for a chat should you need guidance on how to approach your family. Get this right and you’ll find the happy medium; your position as a parent is respected and others are allowed to provide the fun element that’s the great part of their extended family role.