My 5 1/2-year-old son just recently started disliking his grandmother, who has been taking care of him part time for the past five years. Since he started kindergarten, grandma only sees him a couple of times a week. When she requests her hug and a kiss, my son absolutely refuses her, which makes her very hurt and resentful toward him. She says out loud that he doesn't like her anymore. He also doesn't want to play with her anymore and prefers to play with grandpa.
Both his daddy and I asked him why, but he just says he doesn't want to kiss her anymore and doesn't want to play with her.
I really feel bad about it and don't know how to handle it. My mother-in law is not happy to come over because of the way her grandson behaves toward her.
I even told my son that if he's not nice to grandma he will have privileges taken away. Please help. Thank you
From: Sabler, Brookfield, WI
Why has this happened? There could be something very concrete: he doesn't like the smell of her perfume; she has bad breath; her kisses are too wet. You get the idea. It could also be a combination of where he is developmentally (testing out his ability to exert power over people) and that something happened with grandma that has made him angry with her. Maybe he's feeling more grown up these days and thinks she treats him like a baby.
You'll likely never figure out what it is exactly, but I would try to explore some of those feelings and give him permission to have his feelings: "We all sometimes feel unhappy with people we love. That's OK. But we always need to be kind and respectful. If you don't want to hug or kiss grandma, what can you do?" Encourage him to write her a letter or draw a picture with a message. Maybe he can create a dozen "coupons" that he can give her as substitute hugs.
In the meantime, grandma needs to recognize that she's the adult here. That he's playing with grandpa and not with her tells me that he's trying to exercise some power over her, maybe even punish her. The bigger the fuss you all make of this, the longer it will last. Suggest that she come up with some alternative greeting, like butterfly kisses (you brush your eyelashes against the other person's cheek) or high fives. Or she could tell him, "You're my grandson and I love you no matter what. Some day, I hope you'll be ready to give me a big hug again, but it meantime, can we ..... high-five?"
I would avoid taking away privileges for not kissing or hugging.
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