What's your biggest challenge in family life? Send your questions and dilemmas to experienced life coach Joanne Mallon via this confidential form. Your name can be changed on request
My grandson, who I look after two days a week, does not want to go home at the end of the day. He tells his mummy he doesn't like her and only wants his daddy at home. He's two-and-a-half. Both parents love him dearly but I look after him as they have to work. What can I do to help his mum have the relationship I have with him? It breaks my heart to see how hurt my daughter-in-law is.
Here's the life coach's reply:
Another way to look at it is that he is obviously so happy in the time he spends with you that he doesn't want to leave. Also, if he is being picked up at the end of the day he is probably tired, and this is a real trigger for tantrums.
There are a few things you can do to help:
- Let him know what is going to happen when. Many toddlers don't react well to sudden changes and like to know what is coming next. Many nurseries use visual aids like this calendar, which maps out what is going to happen each day using pictures, because children often feel more secure when they know the structure of their day. Could you make or buy something like this?
- Give him plenty of warning that home time is coming up. About half an hour before mum is due, let him know and start an 'end of the day' activity – maybe tidying up or a quiet story. Keep this the same every time.
- Keep handover time short and sweet. Get him into his coat and out the door straight away. Don't linger too long for a chat. Keep your tone upbeat, bright and breezy and don't engage with the tantrum.
- Use reward stickers for when he's behaving well. Give him the chance to earn one when he's going home.
- Don't take it personally. This goes for both you and his mum. Children will often kick out at the parent who's in front of them – it doesn't mean he loves his mum any less. This is normal behaviour that many children display. It will pass, especially as he gets older and less tired at the end of the day.