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Grandma doesn’t agree with how we discipline.

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My 3 year old daughter throws several screaming temper tantrums a day if even the slightest thing doesn’t go the way she expected it too. She consistently hits and kicks her 1 year old brother. She’s gotten in trouble in preschool for hitting the other children and then refusing to apologize. She refuses to listen and constantly says “no” to almost anything we ask her to do. She’s very bright and can be very sweet and good-natured one minute and be throwing a total tantrum the next. We’ve tried timeouts, we’ve taken away her toys, we constantly praise her when she does behave. She’s gone through alot of changes lately (new baby, new home in a new town, and her great grandmother recently moved in with us) and the trouble seems to have gotten worse since experiencing all of these changes. It doesn’t help that we can’t get grandma to follow our discipline plan (she constantly argues with us about the fact that we won’t spank her, she’ll yell at my daughter when she’s throwing a fit instead of ignoring her like we’ve asked her to do, and she’ll tell her she shouldn’t have something but give it to her anyway). I’ve tried talking to my husbands grandmother on several occassions but it hasn’t really helped. Is this just normal three year old behavior or is it something more serious and is there anything I can do to help even without the cooperation of all the adults in the house?

Grandma doesn’t agree with how we discipline.

Answered by on -


No, this is not normal 3 year old behavior. My best guess is that his little girl is reacting to all the change and instability around her. She may be pushing and pushing and pushing the limts in order to find where the real limits are. She doesn’t know when no means no. You are already doing lots of the things counselors have found will help. The problem lies in consistency and having all the adults on the same page.

It’s time to regroup. For some reason, your daughter is feeling hurt and is hurting back. She may or may not be able to tell you what is bothering her but it’s worth a try to ask. Meanwhile, the adults need to meet to talk about how to help her. Punishing won’t help. It will only hurt her more. What will give her some security is having clear rules and clear consistent consequences for when they are broken. This, coupled with lots of reassurance and attention when she is behaving, can turn things around.

Meanwhile, Grandma has to be somehow brought on board. I’m guessing that, like your daughter, she’s also reacting to multiple transitions and so she is trying to get some control by doing things her way. It makes sense, but it isn’t helpful. I’m sure that her behavior is exasperating but scolding her probably won’t help. I wonder if anyone has sat down with her to talk about how hard it is to make change, to live with other people, and to live with other people’s ideas about child-rearing. Maybe if she understands that she and your daughter are both having trouble with change and are both needing to feel somewhat in control, she’ll be able to be more supportive.

As I write this, I’m also feeling very sympathetic to the position you’re in. You and your husband are also dealing with lots of change – plus dealing with two difficult, cranky people (Grandma and daughter). I don’t blame you a bit if sometimes you just want to run away. It must feel like a bit much. This is one of those times when fairness has nothing to do with it. You and your husband are in the unenviable position of being the ones in charge. I hope you have some good friends and loving family members to call who will listen to you and love you and help you stay calm and clear while you help get everyone settled and adjusted to all the changes in the family. Once that happens, I hope you two get to have a very well-earned weekend off together. You will have earned it.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Grandma doesn’t agree with how we discipline.

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Grandma doesn’t agree with how we discipline.. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.