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Grandson Needs to be Held More Accountable

Question

I just pulled an old John article out of my drawer that I have had for years. It was about how therapy can be detrimental to a child and rarely works. Also talked about kids emotions and feelings and how you should not legitimize them too much. My question is - would therapy EVER be appropriate? My daughters think if a child has been through trauma then therapy can help. My grandson is 7 and my daughter is divorced from his father when he was 2. They have 50/50 custody. Ex son in law is a narcissistic sociopath who delights in causing pain to my daughter and uses her son to do so. He has allowed him to play rated M video games since he was 4. He lives with the woman he had an affair with. My son in law is addicted to video games himself. So now my sweet grandson shows violent tendencies. He has kicked my dogs and his dogs and has stomped on a frog and his "pet" preying mantis. He has said violent and very hurtful things to his mother. He started Taekwondo because we thought it would be helpful but since starting has hit a girl at school twice in the stomach and hit his dad in the face. He loves doing and saying things to me that he knows will hurt me then he smiles. I have been a fun and very loving grama to him and he is the love of my life. I am so concerned. My daughter is a great mom who gives him consequences and we made him take a month off of Taekwondo because of his actions. He is very good at it and loves it. My daughter is at a loss for what to do. He responds to her and to us sometimes in a very mean way. Is he at the point where counseling may help?

Answer

Hello and welcome to Parent Guru. Your grandson is very fortunate to have you in his life and looking out for his best interest. In reference to your first question, “would therapy ever be appropriate?”, yes, there certainly are times when working with a licensed therapist is appropriate. Parent Guru coaches are trained by John to answer a broad range of parenting questions, however, due to the nature of Parent Guru, we are unable to answer your second question or make any specific recommendations regarding whether your grandson would benefit from counseling. You have certainly identified some concerning behaviors and I have no problem saying there would be benefits for all involved with addressing these behaviors. For starters, a zero tolerance for intentionally harming animals or others is needed ASAP and the consequences for breaking this rule should be very clear and consistently enforced. Since you have asked about counseling though, I will keep my recommendations more general for now.

50/50 custody agreements are not without their own unique set of challenges. The only behaviors you and your daughter can hold your grandson accountable for are the ones he displays when he is with you or that impact you directly. You must let go of trying to control his behavior when he is with his Dad and focus all your energy on helping him learn your expectations. Just because he gets away with certain behaviors when he is with Dad does not mean you and your daughter cannot hold him to a higher standard when he is with you. Kids are very capable of adapting their behaviors to their environment. They do this every time they go to school, right? The rules at school are very different and the consequences for breaking those rules at school are usually very clear. I am sorry to hear that he is getting into trouble at school. Has the school offered any assistance or made any recommendations? Often times the school guidance counselor can be another place to seek additional guidance and support.

John’s book "The Well Behaved Child" offers a variety of strategies for dealing with many of the behaviors you have described and would be a great place to start. Setting new expectations and consequences and beginning the process of holding your grandson more accountable will be challenging but he is still young enough that you can help him turn his behavior around. Parent Guru is here to help you along the way through answering a wide variety of parenting questions. With your subscription to Parent Guru you can ask as many questions as you need to so don’t hesitate to reach back out if you have more specific questions. If you still feel you need more than what is offered through answering questions, you may want to consider hiring John or one of our Parent Guru Parent Coaches.

Lisa Woodman
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
coachingbythecup@gmail.com

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