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. Fellow parent 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. They…
- don’t see your kids often and want to stock pile on gifts when they do
- show their love through gift-giving
- enjoy shopping
- 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
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 resource: 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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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 so you avoid further miscommunication. For instance, they can:
- 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 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.
This will likely sway them to rethink their gift-giving when they can see the evidence as well as other resources pointing to the same conclusion.
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 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 within the confines of your space 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.
5. Highlight the 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. 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?”
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.
Grandparents spoiling grandchildren can be a tricky situation to resolve. Start by acknowledging their intentions and thanking them for all they do for your kids. 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 kids, from recent research to your child’s change in 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” the kids, focus on gifts that strengthen their relationship, like outings together.
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
- 9 Warning Signs You’re Raising a Spoiled Child
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: