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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
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I am the paternal grandmother of a female child who turned

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I am the paternal grandmother of a female child who turned 4 years old on August 9th. She is an only child and has been in pre-school (four hours 4-5 days per week for the past two years) I live less than a mile from my son's house and have been an additional care-taker for my granddaughter every since she was born----she comes to "grandma's" house every wednesday and Friday for a total of 16-20 hours per week, has come to understand and know the schedule... She LOVES to go to "grandma's house." However, as so many children, she is quite precocious and VERY strong-willed. It seems that lately, some of her obstreperous behavior has not changed when put on "time-out", removal/denial of t.v./ removal/denial of toys, etc. While "grandma" is more lenient than her parents, I STILL correct inappropriate behavior and have administered discipline when I feel it's necessary. She clearly "gets away" with more at "grandma's but there are STILL demands placed upon her.

I would like your feedback and opinion on the new discipline her parents have implemented beginning today. Apparently, her punishment for her misdeeds this week is that she will be denied going to "Grandma's House." This form of discipline is being tested because her response to other forms of discipline lately has been, i.e. denial of t.v.: "I don't care; I'll watch it at Grandma's house..."

Soooo, her parent's attempt at discipline is to remove her "fun" which seems to be "grandma's house." They are frustrated because nothing seems to work and I'm sure they are feeling she may be going out of control. I know how this feels because I personally raised a VERY strong-willed daughter, who got me so bewildered when she turned 4 that I took a parenting class because I was sooooo perplexed by my inability to discipline and control her?! Frightening as a parent!

As an aside, my granddaughter is also VERY EMOTIONAL and has been so since her birth. She is EXTREMELY upset about NOT being able to go to "grandma's house" and begged to come over...YOUR OPINION, PLEASE, ON THIS NEW DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE. Worth a try? Her parents are VERY GOOD parents and are trying to do what is best for her; I would like to be supportive in their efforts to parent but I'm not sure about the wisdom of this particular punishment?? Punishment should NOT cause more harm than good...What do YOU think?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


Raising a strong willed child, as you know, is a challenge to say the least. It sounds like your granddaughter is very cared about by both you and her parents. But disciplining her is important. If she is allowed to grow up without restrictions on her behavior, a strong willed child's behavior can become a huge problem.


While it is not fun for you or your grandchild, restricting her fun time with you is ok to do. Your grandchild's parents realize that she sees her visits with you as fun and enjoys them. The idea of punishment is to take away those things that the child enjoys so they understand that there are consequences to the undesirable behavior. While it is not fun to be regulated to the category of "fun things", it is something your grandchild understands.


You could also talk with your grandchild's parents and try coordinating the rules so she gets the same rules at your home as she does at home. That may not be as fun and it may make your grandchild upset, but it would also help keep her with you and might make her behavior easier to deal with.


You could also try a reward system. If your granddaughter behaves for you and her parents for a certain number of days, she gets to pick an activity she enjoys (within limits). Make sure the rules are very clear and remind her as often as you feel it is needed. Use a reward chart to help her understand (you can find them at most learning toy stores or might have one).


You and her parents can also learn more about raising strong willed children, if you have not already. Here are some resources to help:


Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child : Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries by Robert J. Mac Kenzie


Parenting the Strong-Willed Child: The Clinically Proven Five-Week Program for Parents of Two- to Six-Year-Olds [Revised and Updated Edition] by Ph.D.,Rex Forehand and Ph.D.,XXXXX XXXXX


You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded): Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias


You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.


The good news is that your granddaughter will probably become a very focused and goal oriented adult. Most strong willed children do very well in life and are well adjusted adults.


I hope this has helped you,


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