6 Year Old Mean to Grandpa

Updated on December 21, 2012
I.:. asks from Minneapolis, MN
15 answers

My 6 year old can be crabby, but she always seems to cop an attitude with my dad. He is a wonderful grandpa and very involved. He actually plays with them, reads to them, and teaches them so many things. My mom too. About a year or two ago she started getting snotty towards him, and it has been increasing frequency lately. It's like a cycle, he tries to hug her, or play with her, she gets mad about something, he asks her why she's mad and acting mean, she gets meaner. Then I get mad at her for being mean to my dad. It just makes me SO mad.

Now that I think about it, it may have started when my other DD was born. Maybe she's jealous of sharing his attention. It does get worse when my neice and nephew are in town once or twice a year. But then why would she be mean to him and not my mom??

Also, he does have a tendency to "coach" people, which used to drive me crazy when I was younger.

She isn't really nice to my father in law either, she MUCH prefers my mother in law, but it's not as big of an issue because that grandpa doesn't really try to interact with her that much, especially if she's snotty to him, he will grump at her and then just go watch tv.

Should I try to fix this relationship with my dad? Or just leave it alone?

What can I say to her to make her understand that you can't treat someone mean most of the time. espically someone who does so much for you and yours.

What can I do next?

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answers from McAllen on

I had a similar situation with my son, who was 4ish, at the time. The problem here was that my FIL with whom my son was so mean would be all like it's all good, its fine, and I'd be fuming.
One day I sat them down, both my MIL and FIL and told them, you need to be stern with him and let him know that you will not be spoken to or disrespected in any way. I will stand by you and support you, it's important that all of us are consistent with his discipline. They did, they were amazing, they handed him consequences a couple of times, they took a toy away, or stopped playing with him, and he changed, he isn't the most respectful kid, but he is not mean to them anymore.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Columbia on

It doesn't matter why she does it or who she prefers. She needs to learn that she doesn't get to just talk to people any way she pleases.

It is completely unacceptable for a 6 year old to be disrespectful or rude to their elders. I would simply put a stop to it by refusing to allow her to participate.

As soon as she gets snotty, send her to her room with the explanation, "DD, that is MY daddy. You will NOT be rude to him. The only way you may talk to him is nicely, and if you can't you will be staying in your room. You may come out and see me in 15 minutes IF you think you can straighten up your attitude."

Then, every time she acts badly towards him, send her back to her room. Don't put up with it. She'll get the point.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

A few things were always on my never tolerated list and it has served my kids well.

One of these was you can't be a smart alek to adults, especially your grandparents. You get a tone, you get one warning, then you go to your room till you can apologize and act with respect.

The other was respecting your sibling. You could fight and I wouldn't find it as troubling as being mean to each other verbally.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

My first response is to make her stop. To tell her that behavior is not going to be tolerated because it is not acceptable. I would start out when she is in a good mood and it's just the two of you - talk to her about how you treat other people and what the consequences are going to be if she is mean to anyone (including Grandpa's). If she tests you on it, I would promptly remove her to a different room or area and put her in alone time until she can handle herself. When she comes back with the group, if her attitude hasn't recovered, I would repeat and I would not relent on this.

How you treat people is a non-negotiable behavior with me.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

My daughter is turning 6 and was the same way. I step in, my mom (nana) has, but I think it needs to also come from grandpa. "I will not be talked to like that. I don't appreciate it and I'm afraid we can't play if you're being disrespectful." When he put his foot down, she straightened right up. Ya teach people how to treat you and once he stopped tolerating it, she stopped.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yes, you do need her to understand that being rude is not ok. Definitely. If it's a jealousy thing, that needs to be addressed.

BUT - you also need to make sure there isn't an actual, valid reason she is not nice with him. Just to be safe. I'm not saying freak out all over, but a conversation to know where she's coming from so you can effectively shut it down if it's just snottyness, or deal if it's something more valid (cause you said he drove you crazy as a kid :) That needs to be respected also. Just because he's an adult doesn't give him license to aggrivate a kid (on purpose, I mean).

I don't want to go 100% over to something not being right, but just because he plays and stuff, doesn't mean she's not uncomfortable for a reason. It may just be a personality clash, but if it's more, then it has to be dealt with.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

She is SIX.
By now... you need to CORRECT her stinky attitude and behavior.
Just tell her simply, you do not treat people or family that way.
It is mean. Tell her that.
BY NOW, even in school, kids get corrected about behavior like that.
They know what an "attitude" is.
Stop the vicious cycle, now.

At a certain age, behavior like this is not "cute" nor excusable.
And it has to be corrected.

Sit her down.
Tell her.
Ask her WHY she even acts like this.
Teach her it is wrong... it is mean, you do not treat people that way.

... I see some kids, (I work at my kids' school), and even if older, they STILL act this way to others. But then, kids like that may be called "Bullies." For example.

And instead of acting like that when/if she is mad... you need to teach her... HOW to communicate that in palatable ways. She is 6.
She needs to learn, how to communicate. Properly.
If a kid acted like that in school... the Teacher would be calling you about her behavior. Things like this are not acceptable in school, and it is not acceptable at home. Especially by now being 6. They need to learn right and wrong.

Just correct her.

EVERYONE in a family can be irritating... but that does not mean you can be mean to them or snotty.
It is not your Dad or your FIL's fault.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Tell her if she is mean or rude to grandpa or anyone, she will spend the day in her room while the rest of the family has a nice time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think you have to deal with this as a two-pronged problem.

First, yes, as everyone has said, your daughter needs to know that rudeness isn't tolerated. I would give her one "let's try that again in a friendly way" cue and then, she needs to have the line laid down in ways that both AV and Christy Lee have suggested. I think you need to address it with her in a calm way before your next visit with your dad, let her know what you have noticed, a simple explanation of why it is important to be polite and friendly, and what will happen ("I'll give you a chance to fix it, and if I see you don't want to, you'll be asked to leave the room until you can apologize.")
This way, she knows what's going to happen, which I think is reasonable and fair to her. Then, she can't blame you for being 'mean' because you aren't surprising her. She'll know you are holding her to your expectations.

The second is going to be harder. You will need to talk to your dad candidly before the next visit and explain your plan. "Dad, instead of getting into a conversation about her feelings, we need to keep things simple. So I'm giving her one chance to correct her behavior, and then she'll be sent to her room until she can apologize politely. I know you want to give her attention, and I love that you care about her enough to want to do stuff with her. I also want us to all be on the same page of giving her attention for her better behaviors, otherwise she's getting a lot of attention from you for being rude, not for being pleasant. So please let me step in and deal with it when the time comes."

You do want to give him a head's up that you aren't trying to correct *him* and his style of coaching/working through things, however, your daughter isn't getting what she really needs in the long term in regard to how to treat others, period.

I have to say, too, that I would never have been allowed to have treated my grandfather with disrespect- he would have ripped us up on side and down the other. Not that I approve of that extreme, but I don't approve of the permissive 'let's discuss it to death' extreme either. You, as the parent, correcting it in the moment will allow him to continue to be 'the nice guy' (which will protect their relationship) and will guide her to making better choices. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Sounds like you can teach her about relationships and you can encourage your Dad to handle it a bit differently. I think if I were your Dad, I would back off a bit. It sounds like your daughter might be getting overwhelmed or even jealous and maybe his huggy, coaching behavior is overwhelming to her? While I do think kids should be respectful to adults, I think that we also have to try and not engage in a power struggle with kids. Maybe he should try giving her some space. Allowing her to come to him and to establish her comfort level. If she doesn't want to interact much, I wouldn't push it. He needs to try and not personalize it. Some objectivity with this situation would be really helpful. Their relationship will change a lot over the years, I'm sure.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I haven't read the other responses and have a simple suggestion. Being mean is disrespectful. Disrespect gets discipline. I'd give her a timeout or send her to a separate room until she can apologize and be nice.

Talk with her ahead of time about respect and why we treat people with respect. Tell her when she's being disrespectful/mean that you'll warn her once and decide on a way to do that and if she continues to be disrespectful she will go in time out or what it is you decide the discipline with be. Discipline is to teach her so the discipline needs to separate her from the situation and give her time to think about how she's acting and how it makes her grandpa feel.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Nip this now or you will end up with a child like our niece who is nearly 13. She has never been taught that she should act respectful toward elders, including her grandparents, so she does as she pleases; ignores them if she wants; makes zero effort to interact with them; makes almost silent but snarky comments, etc. It appalls me but her parents have never corrected her that I've ever seen or heard (fortunately we don't see them very often and I instruct my own child that she WILL engage with the grandparents since she can't see them much due to distances involved).

Does your grandad have the authority to correct her? If not, he should. You need to give him that OK; discuss with him what that means (as in, not smacking or spanking but a firm "Sally, you're choosing to be rude, so you must apologize to me" etc.) Work it out with him and then be sure your child knows he does have the right and full authority to "be the boss of her." And don't make "go to your room" an option for discipline -- that only puts her where she wants to be, away from him and among all her own favorite stuff.

You too need to follow up with consequences when you observe her being rude or snarky or ignoring him.

This is not just about the two of them. She will learn that she can get away with being rude to her elders, which for me is an absolute "no way." You are right that it might be partially due to her feeing jealousies etc. but that should not affect the consequences. Yes, he may also coach folks which can drive some kids up the wall but you can talk to her about that: "I know grandad told you to do X this way. And I know that isnt' how you wanted to do it. But you are grown -up enough to understand that some adults try to help kids do this and it's his way of teaching you. You do not have to do everything his way but you DO have to look at him, and listen and not interrupt..." Etc. Then be certain to praise and praise her when she IS good and nice and attentive with him-- don't forget the praise!

It's also possible that he just bores her. I know my in-laws bore my niece and always have -- she's a lively kid and they are elderly and infirm and bookish. But she has never been taught that even if you have to mostly feign it, you act a certain nice way toward your grandparents, and you TRY to be interested in them and concerned about them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

She needs to stop this. He deserves respect and letting her get away with this is awful. I would punish her everytime she is a snot to your dad. It's just not right.
I mean if this is not corrected just think how she is going to be when she is older. I am sure she is a little delight most of the time. I just would make sure you correct this.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

This summer we were at the beach and my boys were playing in the water. In came grandpa and the boys didn't take well to that. They're both not in the water much, but grandpa was being really pushy and taking them out deeper. He wasn't paying attention to the fact that the boys were uncomfortable and that they were being mean. If he would've taken it slowly then all would've been fine. Maybe it's not the same situation, since water can be a fear for many kids. Wish I could offer more advice, unfortunately think I was a snot when I was younger...wanting everything my way.



answers from Washington DC on

I would enforce basic respect. She can say, "No, thank you" vs "NO!" Or "I don't want to play right now" vs "go away!" I intervene if DD thinks she can backtalk - anybody. She rolled out "NO!" once in school when I told her to clean up and let's go, and immediately got "Excuse me, young lady! You do NOT get to be rude." She hasn't tried that again.

If you notice that she gets irritated when he behaves a certain way (like the coaching you mentioned) you might take him aside and say, "Dad, I realize you mean well, but I've noticed that when you and DD do x, you say y and she gets irritated." Sometimes people who are similar (is she bossy?) butt heads.

Also, if you think it might also have to do with other kids, I'd work with her on sharing people's time and attention. Maybe read each child a book they picked out or he could read a book to your younger DD while your mom did something with the older kids in the kitchen.

They may never be close. And that happens. But if they treat each other with respect, then there will at least be peace.

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