DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I know kids grow up and test the waters around grownups. That is what happened with my own and my husband’s. But after not seeing my daughter’s and my husband’s son’s children since before the pandemic, we were both shocked to see how different the four children were from the last time we were all together. I am not talking about pre-teens becoming teenagers. These kids are all under 10, and they went from being sweet, fun, and kind to being, frankly, a little bratty. They talk back, just take whatever they want, use words I know their parents don’t approve, and just drop their things wherever they care to, and don’t pick them up, even when we ask them to.
I know, well at least I hope, this is from the pandemic isolation, but do we put up with the petulance and say nothing in the hope that things will soon improve as they return to normal? --- FRUSTRATED GRANDMA
DEAR FRUSTRATED GRANDMA: I think you’re on target with your theory that the unusual circumstances created by the pandemic are most likely piggybacking on the natural tendency of kids to test authority figures. There’s certainly plenty being written and discussed about the effects of the many months of isolation most of us endured. If it’s made adults forget how to act around people outside their own homes, it makes sense to me that kids, who are still mastering all the necessary social skills, would be particularly impacted by a lack of using them.
I’d try a combination of patience and firmness. Boundaries need to be reestablished, and expected behaviors need to be clearly explained, as a way to remind your grandkids that it’s your house, your rules. It doesn’t have to be roughly done or loud, it just needs to be consistent.