7 Proven Ways To Handle A Wild Grandchild

It’s inevitable: Some kids are calm and good at following directions, and others are more – how shall I say – wild and unruly. While the latter may be exhausting at times, these – err, spirited – children can also be incredibly sweet, creative, funny, and too darn smart, which often makes up for the more trying times. If you haven’t guessed yet, I have one of these “wilder” grandkids I love to pieces, but I have had to learn how to calm and handle them during the more trying times. Here are some proven ways to handle a wild grandchild, which I know from experience from both being a parent and a grandparent: 

Ditch the screens 

Children playing on tablets
Flickr/Yan Chi Vinci Chow

Screens weren’t an issue when we were kids, but they reared their ugly little (bright and addictive) heads when I had kids, and now? They are EVERYWHERE. There have been countless studies regarding children and screens, and all say the same thing: screens cause behavioral issues and many other problems. The solution? Ditch them! Instead of watching TV or playing on the iPad, find something that doesn’t involve a bright screen, like drawing, running around the backyard (you don’t have to run but supervise!), baking something together… You get the idea!


Calendars scattered on the floor

Routines and schedules are vital for children, so when they visit, ensure they know there is a routine in place and they are expected to follow it. It can be relaxed (after all, you’re a fun grandma!), but make sure they know ahead of time that there is playtime, lunch, quiet/nap time, and so on.

Follow through

A young boy sits outside a museum after a disagreement with his mother
Flickr/Wayne S. Grazio

If someone is breaking the rules (or breaking the things), don’t make idle warnings or threats: the first time they don’t listen, have a consequence in place (a la taking away something, sitting on the stairs, going to a room for X amount of minutes, etc.) and follow through. If your grand knows you mean business, it can help nip future outbursts and unruliness in the bud.

Parks and play places

Steve Cox Memorial Park play area
Flickr/King County Parks Your Big Backyard

When you have a busy or wild grandchild(ren), parks and other designated spaces for play will be your saving grace, as they can help burn off some of their energy and give you a moment to breathe!

Teach them empathy 

Empathy spelled out with Scrabble pieces
Flickr/Sharon Sinclair

Children’s minds are little sponges that soak up so much every day and you, as grandma, are one of their very first teachers. Take this opportunity to talk about and teach them empathy. This doesn’t need to be a college-level lecture on the psychology of empathy; simply share with them how you feel when they disobey or won’t listen. After you share your feelings, ask them how they may feel if the shoe was on the other foot. After having this dialog once or twice, you may notice some welcomed changes in their behavior. 

Teach them easy ways to calm down 

Yoga partner boat pose, Lil' Asana at Carrboro Yoga Company
Flickr/Nicole Mark

Deep breathing. Yoga poses. Drawing or coloring. These are all excellent ways for adults to calm down, so you better believe it also works wonders for little ones! 
This one may take a little trial and error, so here are a few more calming techniques to try:

  • Take a drink of water or milk
  • Blow on a pinwheel
  • Count backward from 100
  • Blow bubbles
  • Give a big hug
  • Go for a walk or a run
  • Jump rope (or simply jump)
  • Crinkle tissue paper
  • Roll a ball under your feet
  • Play music
  • Dance

Take up a fun (but calm) hobby 

Kids painted with the PixieDust App
Flickr/Little Kits

There are so many lifelong hobbies that you and your grandchild can take up together, like scrapbooking, coin or stamp collecting, painting, or writing. It can be something you do when you’re together; however, there must be a set amount of calm to participate, and if things get too loud or unruly, hobby time immediately ends.

Time with the grandkids is the truly best, and I hope these tried and true methods work as well for you as they have for me. Until next time!

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