How To Handle Disrespectful Grandchildren: Try These 9 Tactics

Grandkids are the best! You get to help them learn new things, celebrate their victories, and you can spoil them a little more than you could when you were raising your own kids. 

The best part is that you don’t have to worry as much about every minor detail of their lives like what time ballet practice is, when their homework is due, or how often their laundry needs to be washed.

As much as you love your grandkids, they are, after all, kids. Even the most well-behaved kids can be disrespectful at times. Sometimes, this disrespect can come from a place of tiredness, being overwhelmed, or just a case of the grumps. 

We can all be grumpy at times. As adults, we have more words to explain how we feel and why we feel that way. For kids though, it isn’t always that easy. They don’t have the words to clearly express their emotions and oftentimes, they may not quite understand how they are feeling. 

If you are finding your grandchildren are more disrespectful to you, and it’s not just the occasional overtiredness creeping up, you may need to work on ways to change these behaviors. Keep reading to learn strategies to help you both come out of those moments with a stronger, more respectful relationship.

1. Respect

Have you ever tried to explain respect to a little kid? It’s very hard. When we say, “that’s not respectful” or “respect your grandmother,” oftentimes, kids don’t understand what we mean by this. It’s like asking an adult to play a C chord on the piano when they have never watched someone play, let alone taken a lesson. 

The way to teach kids respect is to show them what respect is. This goes back to the old saying, “monkey see, monkey do.” When they see the adults in their life being kind, saying “please” and “thank you”, listening to others, and obeying boundaries, they are more likely to model those behaviors. 

2. Build A Bond

One of the most important things you can do to help stop disrespectfulness in grandkids is to build a strong bond with them. You may be one of the few, very lucky grandparents that get to live just down the street from their grandkids and build and strengthen these bonds every day. However, for many, this is not the case. 

While kids should generally be respectful to adults, respect also has to be earned. By fostering these relationships even when you are not physically near each other, you will grow a bond that is full of respect and love.

One way to build this bond is through Caribu. Caribu is an app that lets you video-call with your grandkids and provides engaging games to play and imaginative books to read. We’re sure you have noticed that kids can get bored easily. 

By adding fun games like memory or ‘spot the difference’ or reading them their favorite book, it will help keep the kids engaged during a video-call, all while building a stronger relationship with you. 

3. Be Present

When you’re with your grandkids, be present in the moment. Put down your phone, turn off the TV, and close the newspaper. Depending on their ages, you can ask them questions about what they like, how school is going, or what their favorite book is, all to help you get to know them better. 

Your grandkids will love just being around you and learning from you. You can teach them how to make your favorite cookies, how to tend to a garden, or even how to build something out of wood. Just giving your grandkids this one-on-one attention can really help build a mutual respect for each other. 

4. Establish Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries with your grandkids helps them understand what you expect from them and how you expect to be treated. Set these boundaries early on. If you don’t like being interrupted (who does?), set the boundary of when you are speaking, they say “excuse me” and wait patiently. 

You may be thinking, “shouldn’t this be a given with children?” Well, yes, it should be something they are taught, and their parents are probably working on it too, but it is always helpful when someone else helps reinforce the rules. 

Setting your own boundaries helps especially if you are visiting them in their house. You will not have much say in the day-to-day household rules, but what you do have control of is the boundaries that you set. When you have set clear boundaries, kids will typically respect them. 

5. Clear House Rules

If your grandkids are coming to visit you for the weekend, make sure to establish clear house rules. If there is no jumping on the furniture, running in the house, or food outside of the kitchen, set those rules early. 

If you let grandkids run around the first day, and on the second day scold them for doing it, you will leave them confused or embarrassed and they may act out disrespectfully. However, if you lay these ground rules out early on, they know just how you expect them to act in your home and there won’t be any confusion on their end. 

6. Ignore Certain Behaviors

If you have very young grandkids that are still in the tantrum phase, it can be difficult to know how to handle them. Usually, they are overtired, frustrated, upset, or mad that they cannot have something. Sometimes it is easier said than done, but for tantrums, it is often best to ignore them. 

As long as the child is not hurt, let them work it out on their own. When they are finished with their tantrum, be there ready to give them lots of hugs. As long as they know the tantrum did not work to get what they want, they will eventually stop this behavior. 

7. Consistency

No matter what tactics you put in place to stop disrespectful behaviors, your efforts will be moot if you aren’t consistent. Kids have to know that you mean what you say. Let’s say you tell them that they’re not allowed to throw balls in the house and that the balls will be taken away if they do. 

If you do not follow through with that consequence, then they will always throw the ball in the house. You’re also sending a confusing message to your grandkids and in their confusion, they could treat you disrespectfully. 

Before you set any boundaries and house rules, make sure you can follow through on what you say, so everyone leaves feeling clear, understood and respected. 

8. Be Patient

The number one thing to practice when you are around kids, especially little kids, is patience. Even though your grandkids may throw tantrums, speak disrespectfully, or treat you unkindly, they are still learning how to treat people. It’s up to the grownups in their lives to show them how to be calm and collected, even in frustrating situations. 

9. Talk To Their Parents

If you have tried all of these tactics, and you still feel like your grandchildren are being disrespectful, it’s a good idea to speak to their parents. This isn’t a conversation meant to make anyone feel bad, but their parents may have their own tricks that work best for their kids. After all, who knows kids better than their own parents? 

By sitting down with their parents, you can explain how you are feeling, and how you expect to be treated by your grandchildren. Their parents may be able to reinforce those behaviors at home or remind their kids of your house rules before they visit. 

This conversation can be private between you and their parents. The kids don’t even need to know that you talked. However, once they see a more united front, they may act more respectfully to you. 

Everything Will Be OK

As a grandparent, spending time with your grandkids is one of the great joys of life. However, it can be very upsetting if they start acting disrespectfully. Even though these phases can be challenging, there are many ways to help reduce or eliminate disrespect. 

Help them understand what respect is by being respectful to others yourself. Focus on building strong bonds and being present when you are with them. 

When you are visiting them or they are visiting you, make sure you set clear boundaries for how you expect to be treated, and establish clear house rules. Remember, consistency in your expectations is key to your grandkids understanding what you expect from them. Finally, if you don’t feel like you’re able to handle the disrespect, it’s a good idea to get their parents involved. 

Helping grandparents and grandchildren create memories together, even if they are far apart, is what Caribu is all about! By using our video-chat app, you can play games, read a book, draw together, and most importantly, you can build those bonds that are so important to you both. 


Teaching respect to preschoolers can help build character | MSU Extension

Do’s and Don’ts When Kids Won’t Listen | Cleveland Clinic

The power of consistency while parenting young children | Sanford Health News