Excessive gifts can impact values and behavior. Learn how to stop grandparents spoiling grandchildren without offending with these tips.
The toys, the clothes, even the sweets. SSBE reader Aisha couldn’t seem to put a stop to it. As much as she appreciated grandparents showering her child with gifts, it was getting a bit excessive. Receiving gifts may be fine if it were the occasional day or so, but it happened more often than she’d like.
Her daughter received so many gifts, she now wants to buy everything. She felt tired of saying “no” to her requests. And she wanted her daughter to appreciate what she had.
The worst part? Aisha’s daughter began to expect gifts every time she saw her grandparents.
How to stop grandparents spoiling grandchildren
Our parents act with good intentions. Here are just a few:
- They don’t see your kids often and want to stock pile on gifts when they do
- They show their love through gift-giving
- They enjoy shopping
- They want the best for your kids
Keep those in mind as we discuss tactful ways to tell grandparents to stop or slow down with gift-giving. Seeing their actions from their perspective adds empathy and gratitude on your part.
After all, this is a “good” problem to have. Some families don’t have grandparents, or grandparents who don’t give their grand kids anything.
That said, sometimes grandparents take it too far. Though Aisha appreciated their sentiment, she wanted them to stop spoiling her daughter. When grandparents’ gift-giving affects our children’s values, expectations and behavior, we need to step in. Here’s how:
1. Acknowledge their intentions
Start the conversation by acknowledging your parents’ intentions and thanking them. They’ll feel less attacked and more understood when you show you’re grateful for all their gifts.
You might say, “Thank you so much for these gifts. I know you love to shop for Jacob…” or “Thank you so much for giving Jacob so many toys. I appreciate that you think of him…”
2. Explain your expectations
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Once you’ve acknowledged their intentions, be clear about your expectations. Don’t just say “stop giving too many gifts.” Be explicit so you avoid further miscommunication. For instance:
- Limit gift-giving to special occasions like birthdays or the holidays
- Put a cap on how much they spend so they don’t buy him a $400 iPad
- Ask for specific things you approve, like clothes, coloring books or board games
You can also offer alternative gifts more appropriate for you and your family. If your parents are set on spending $400, maybe that can go towards a savings account or college fund. They can give diapers instead of the latest toys. Or they can give “experience gifts” such as taking him to an amusement park.
3. Give grandparents information on the downsides of spoiling kids
Many grandparents shrug off suggestions to stop spoiling their grandchildren. “I’m a grandma—I’m supposed to spoil my grand kids!” They feel they’re exempt or even have a duty to give over-the-top gifts.
Show them instead the downsides of spoiling kids, especially with material items. Give examples of how receiving too many gifts has impacted your child’s behavior. This will likely sway them to rethink their gift-giving.
And take a look at this video and learn 3 not-so-obvious signs you’re spoiling your child:
4. Tell grandparents you have no space
For many households, excessive gifts aren’t possible because of the lack of space. Thank them for the gift, but explain you’ll have to exchange or donate it because you don’t have space.
This would be a good opportunity to offer alternative gift options. Suggest money towards savings, diapers or time spent with your son.
5. Focus on a strong grandparent-child relationship
For several months, my mom visited us every Wednesday afternoon. And each time, she’d bring a small treat for my three boys—a box of crayons, stickers, nothing excessive. My mom doesn’t spoil my kids with excessive gifts, so I cringed when my son asked, “So what did you bring me this week?”
It’s not about the gifts your grandparents give, or how often, or how much is too much. Instead, focus on building a strong and loving relationship between them.
Explain that you don’t want the piles of gifts to overshadow their love for your child. That you don’t want him to expect gifts each time he sees them. Or for him to assume that’s the only way they can interact with one another.
Rather, you value the real gift—the joy of your child being with his grandparents—far more than any wrapped box they might give.
If you’ve seen the warning signs of a spoiled child, it’s not too late to turn things around. Join my newsletter and get my 14-page printable handout, How to Unspoil Your Child! Learn effective tips that not only curb misbehavior but focus on rebuilding a strong parent-child relationship.
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Get more tips:
- What to Do with Grandparents Trying to Parent Your Kids
- Why You Should Always Intervene when Adults Overwhelm Your Kids
- How to Raise a Kind Child
- 9 Warning Signs You’re Raising a Spoiled Child
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