Excessive gifts can impact values and behavior. Learn how to stop grandparents spoiling grandchildren (without offending them) with these tips.
The toys, the clothes, even the sweets—you can’t seem to put a stop to it.
As much as you appreciate grandparents showering your child with gifts, it’s getting a bit excessive. Receiving gifts may be fine if they were the occasional day or so, but it happens more often than you’d like.
In fact, he receives so many gifts from them, he now wants you to buy even more, things you’d rather not get. You’re tired of saying “no” to his requests, wanting him to appreciate what he has instead.
The worst part? He now expects gifts every time he sees his grandparents. “What did you bring me today?” is his new greeting for them.
How to stop grandparents spoiling grandchildren
Your parents and in-laws likely act with good intentions. They…
- don’t see your child often and want to stock pile on gifts when they do
- show their love through gift-giving
- enjoy shopping
- want the best for your child
Keep those in mind as we discuss tactful ways to tell them 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 anything, even their time and attention.
That said, sometimes grandparents can take it too far. Though you appreciate their sentiment, you still want them to stop spoiling your child. When gift-giving affects our children’s values, expectations and behavior, we need to step in. Here’s how, all without offending them:
1. Acknowledge their intentions
Conversations about grandparents spoiling grandchildren usually go sour because they feel attacked. From their point of view, they don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. In fact, they probably think they’re doing the right thing, and can’t see the downsides of their actions.
You can imagine how defensive and hurt they might feel.
Instead, start the conversation by acknowledging their 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…”
Free download: 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.
Get it below—at no cost to you:
2. Explain your expectations
Once you’ve acknowledged their intentions and shown gratitude, be clear about your expectations. Don’t just say “stop giving too many gifts.” Be explicit to avoid further miscommunication. For instance, they can:
- Limit gift-giving to special occasions like birthdays or the holidays (instead of every visit)
- 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, that can go towards a savings account or college fund. They can give diapers instead of the latest toys, or “experience gifts” like an annual pass to the zoo.
3. Give information about 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!” Or “I raised you and you turned out all right!” 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. Cite recent research and articles, or give examples of how receiving too many gifts has impacted your child’s behavior or put pressure on you.
This will sway them to rethink their gift-giving when they can see the evidence as well as other resources pointing to the same conclusion.
4. Tell grandparents you have no space
For many households, excessive gifts simply 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. Let them know that you can’t house all these gifts, especially large ones.
Sometimes picturing the gifts in your home paints a more accurate picture of just how much they’ve been spoiling the kids.
This would also be a good opportunity to offer alternative gift options that don’t take up physical space, or at least for too long. Suggest money towards savings, diapers, or time spent with your child. Or they can give him crafting kits they can make together and give as gifts to others.
5. Highlight the grandparent-child relationship
Every week, my mom visits the kids, usually on Fridays. And each time, she brings a small treat for my three boys—a box of crayons, stickers, or a small toy. I never thought my mom spoiled my kids with excessive gifts, so I cringed when my son asked, “So what did you bring me this week?”
I certainly don’t want my kids to equate her visits with getting toys and treats.
After all, it’s not about the gifts your grandparents give, how often, or how much is too much. Instead, focus on building a strong and loving relationship between them and your child.
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.
Grandparents spoiling grandchildren can be a tricky situation to resolve. Start by acknowledging their intentions and thanking them for all they do for your child. Then, explain your expectations of appropriate gifts or how often to give so they know exactly what you have in mind.
If they’re not convinced, give them information about the downsides of spoiling, from research to your child’s behavior. If space is an issue, simply point out that the lack of it has become a problem.
And if they truly want to “spoil” him, focus on gifts that strengthen their relationship, like outings together or a season pass to the museum or zoo.
Because the real gift—the joy of your child being with his grandparents—is far more valuable than any wrapped box they might give.
Get more tips:
- Toddler Too Attached to Grandma? How to Cope with Your Emotions
- What to Do with Grandparents Trying to Parent Your Kids
- Why You Should Always Intervene when Adults Overwhelm Your Kids
- Want to Practice Minimalism with Kids? Focus on These 3 Key Areas
- Do You Have an Ungrateful Child? Here’s What to Do
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and get my 14-page printable handout, How to Unspoil Your Child—at no cost to you: