sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

6 Tips for Dealing with Grumpy Grandkids

By Margaret Manning May 06, 2014 Family

For many women in our community, being a grandmother offers the opportunity to apply their experience and wisdom to shaping and nurturing their grandkids.

But, since grandkids don’t come with instruction manuals, it is often difficult to know how to deal with the times with they have their “moments”… especially if you are a first time grandmother.

So, we asked our Sixty and Me members for advice, diversion tactics or tips for dealing with “grumpy grandkids.” Here are a few ideas from the community:

Love Them Unconditionally

Our community members frequently mentioned the importance of showing unconditional love for the grandchildren, even if they have a temper tantrum, misbehave or make a mess. The truth is, giving your grandkids a big hug and listening to their concerns and just spending time with them is often the best way to defuse any problems.

Give Them a Job

Just like us adults, grandkids are often happiest when they’re assigned a specific job to do. Grandkids need structure, and they will often be more attentive, energetic, focused and calm if you involve them in preparing meals, ask them to vacuum the carpet, or let them hold the leash while walking the dog.

One of our members said that giving her grandson authority over and responsibility for the family dog was enough to make him feel really special.

Teach Empathy

Children can be taught from a young age how to empathize for others. Sometimes the best way to get a child out of a bad mood is to explain to them (gently) that their behavior has an effect on others, and that we all need to treat each other with respect.

One women in the community pointed out that while it’s important to respect your grandchild’s feelings, it is equally important that they learn to respect the feelings of others.

This reminds me of a fun interview that I did with Ellen Pober Rittberg on the topic of the complex relationships that grandparents have with their grandchildren.

Change the Subject

Instead of dwelling on a child’s grumpy mood, it often helps to change the focus to something more enjoyable. One suggestion was to distract them with tasks that engage all of their senses or give them tasks that allow them to “help you”.

Start reading a book, sing a song, or ask the child to help start on a new fun project like painting, drawing or crafts.

Leave Them Alone

Sometimes when kids act out or misbehave, they just need to spend some time by themselves to process their feelings and come back to their sweet bubbly selves. One community member said that children are very much like adults… when they are having a bad day it’s often best just to give them some space and let them cool off.

Send Them Home

As several of our members (humorously) remarked, one of the privileges of being a grandparent is being able to enjoy a nice visit from the grandkids, and then send them home with Mom and Dad! Problem solved!

Grandparents are often more patient and forgiving with their grandchildren than the grandchildren’s own parents. This is often the result of having a better perspective and longer experience in raising young ones.

As much as grandparents like to joke about how they are “spoiling” their grandkids, the truth is that there’s no way to give a child too much caring attention, listening, and quality time spent together.

What do you think about raising grandchildren? How has your perspective changed since you became a grandparent? Do you feel like you are “better” at taking care of your grandchildren than you were at raising your own kids? Please join the conversation in the comments section below.


If you are raising one of your own grandchildren – or just spending a lot of time with them – you won’t want to miss my interview with Ellen Ritberg. Enjoy the show!

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

You Might Also Like