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My Daughter and Granddaughter Live With Me


​My daughter and granddaughter live with me. My granddaughter is 9 years old and in the fourth grade. Lately, she has been very disrespectful and argumentative. My daughter has taken away her electronics and given her chores; however, her behavior seems to be the same if not worse. She is very loving but can be a terror to deal with. Do you have any suggestions for help with discipline? I realize this is the beginning of a storm that will pass, but it seems like a war zone!



While your granddaughter is difficult right now, her behavior can improve with consistency. First of all, your daughter and any other adults in the home should consider sitting down together to determine the rules of the house are going to be for your granddaughter. All of you should agree on the rules and commit to deal with her behavior in the same way. 

Next, make sure to clearly explain the rules to her and outline your expectations for her behavior. Rules should include doing what you ask her to do (without being disrespectful or crying).

If she breaks any of the rules, stop her and describe the problem behavior to her. Then give her a negative consequence. Explain the positive behavior that you want her to exhibit. At another time, have her practice the behavior that you want her to display. It's important to be consistent and remain calm as you are going through this process.

When your granddaughter argues or is disrespectful, you can ignore her or send her to her room until she stops. Let her know that you will talk to once she is able to calmly and respectfully talk to you. Do not talk with her a lot during this process; give her one statement and withdraw all attention until she complies with your instruction.

Make sure to give her positive praise when responds without arguing or crying or when she stops crying and talks to you calmly. As a rule, you should give four positives for every negative. She is still very young, and it's important to include plenty of praise and teaching in your interactions with her. Providing negative consequences alone will not increase the likelihood that the behavior you want to occur will occur. 

You also want to teach her positive responses to take the place of the negative responses she is giving. Teach her how you would like her to respond rather than arguing or being disrespectful. For example, instead of arguing when you ask her to do something, she should say "Okay, Grandma," and complete the activity without arguing or being disrespectful. You can practice this skill by playing a "Simon Says" game in which you give her direction. She'll say, "Okay, Grandma," and complete the activity. She, in turn will give you a direction and you'll complete it as part of the game.

Many families like to use a chart to document positive behavior. Your granddaughter can help create the chart. Let her write down the items for the chart, or she can help to draw pictures. She can choose the stickers for the chart, and you can give her a larger reward when she shows good behavior for a certain amount of time. Set up the expectations for the reward so it's achievable for her. For example, if she has issues daily or multiple times per day, you may want to start out by setting expectations for a reward daily. 

Rewards do not have to be expensive. In fact, some families use a "joy jar" from which the child can pick a variety of rewards, which could include spending time with adult, a trip to the library, choice of favorite meal, etc. Have her write down rewards of her choosing on a piece of paper, put them in a jar, and have her draw from the jar when she earns a reward.

Lastly, set aside time to spend with her when she is exhibiting positive behavior.  It may take time to see behavioral changes, but with consistency, you should be able to resolve the problem. As much as possible, get everyone in her life to deal with her negative behaviors in the same, consistent manner.  You can also visit for a number of great resources on dealing with behavior issues.