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Talking It Over: The hardest parts of being a grandparent

One of the hardest things about being a grandparent is witnessing the discipline or scolding of a grandchild. Even though you know it is a very necessary part of educating and raising a child, it is still hard to see or do.

Seeing one of my grandchildren cry, whether it is from an injury, homesickness, exhaustion or because they have been naughty, is heartbreaking. I just want to gather them in my arms and tell them it will all be OK, soothing their sorrows. However, when that child is crying because they have been put in a time-out, made to sit and eat their supper or put down for a badly needed nap, trying to ease the tears is not a good thing. It is definitely a time to step back and let them learn from the discipline being instilled.

During these times I have to hold my tongue, leave the room and remember what it was like as a young mother, having to discipline a child. Some say that it hurts the parent as much as the child and I believe that whole-heartedly. You know it is for their own good, but still very hard to do and watch. However, by not disciplining, you are hurting your child much more and sending them a message that things like talking back, hitting or refusing to pick up toys is OK.

Simple correction of bad behavior in a child can help them tremendously in the future. Teaching them to not talk back will help them learn to listen and show respect for others. Violence, even child-like hitting, should be corrected at an early age and not be demonstrated in the discipline process. Making a child clean their plate, wait before having snacks, pick up toys and clean their room will help them be more dedicated, organized and resourceful in the future. It could also teach them that dumping out the entire toy box isn't always a good thing.

I have seen some very unique ways of discipline or correction. Time-outs work at times but there are also times when taking away a favorite toy for a short time or denying a simple snack will work better. Rewards for good behavior can also be a creative way of encouraging a child to learn the right way to act. Sticker sheets can be a great way to reward good deeds and when I see one of these on a refrigerator or in a child's room, I like to take time to acknowledge that child's hard work.

Knowing all this does not help the heartbreak that I feel when a grandchild is crying because they can't play with their favorite toy or have been denied a snack before dinner. Even though I know I did the same things to help my children learn, watching them discipline as adults is very hard.

My only consolation in all this is that years ago when my children were misbehaving I would say "I hope your kids do the same thing to you one day." Now it is payback time and even though I don't want to see my grandchildren cry, I know someday their children will be paying them back, too