Why Does Your Toddler Suddenly Hate or Dislike Grandma? Navigating the Complex World of Toddler-Grandparent Relationships

If your toddler suddenly starts to act as though they can’t stand being around grandma, you’re probably feeling a mix of confusion, frustration, and concern.

Why would a toddler suddenly dislike someone they once adored?

In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons behind this abrupt shift in attitude and offer strategies to mend the broken bonds between grandma and your little one.

Is It Common for Toddlers to Suddenly Dislike Grandparents?

It might comfort you to know that it’s actually common for toddlers to go through phases where they might cry, throw tantrums, or even start to cry at the sight of grandma.

Toddlers are still developing their emotional intelligence and social skills. Their feelings can be complicated, even to them, so this isn’t necessarily a reflection on grandma or the toddler’s upbringing.

Why is My Toddler Suddenly Hating Grandma?

There can be a plethora of reasons why a toddler suddenly starts disliking grandma and grandpa. It may be a case of your child becoming more familiar and comfortable with their immediate caregivers (often the mother and father), thus making them wary of others.

Some toddlers display this aversion only towards grandma, while others might extend it to grandpa and other grandparents as well.

It’s not like granny has done something awful; sometimes children react this way for reasons even they can’t articulate.

Could Nurture Play a Role in This Sudden Change?

The environment in which a toddler is nurtured can influence their behavior significantly. If the toddler has recently started daycare or has had some other significant routine change, they might be feeling insecure and may cling to what they know best, which usually doesn’t include grandma.

This can be especially painful if grandma used to babysit before the toddler started daycare.

How Does Grandma Feel?

It’s really tough to see a beloved grandchild suddenly reject you. Grandma might feel awful, and her hurt feelings might sting. It’s important for her not to take it personally.

Children, especially toddlers, are fickle and unpredictable. Assure grandma that it’s a phase and it too shall pass.

However, ensure that you also reassure her that she remains an important part of your family and your child’s life.

How Should Parents React?

First and foremost, respect the toddler’s feelings. If they’re showing aversion to grandma, it doesn’t mean they should be forced to interact with her. Instead, take a balanced approach.

Talk to your toddler to understand why they don’t want to go to grandma’s house. Try reading books that feature grandparents and grandchildren to normalize the idea that grandma loves them.

Do Toddlers Push Away All Older People?

Not necessarily. Your child may dislike being around grandma but could be perfectly happy to see other older relatives or even be friendly towards older strangers.

This implies that the issue is more complex and could be related specifically to their relationship with grandma.

How to Spend Quality One-on-One Time with Grandma

Sometimes, spending one-on-one time with grandma can help rekindle that special bond.

Whether it’s a simple activity at home like reading or an outing, focus on nurturing a loving relationship between your toddler and their grandma. Quality time will help your toddler feel more secure around her.

Activities to Reinforce a Loving Relationship

Consider creating special memories that involve only your child and grandma. Whether it’s baking cookies at grandmas house or building a fort, special activities can create a better experience and lasting memories.

It could even involve something as simple as grandma reading a book to the toddler.

Talk to Your Toddler: Empathize and Understand

Take the time to sit down with your toddler and ask them how they feel about grandma.

While they may not be able to express themselves fully, this conversation will give you some insight into their feelings.

At this age, empathy is still a developing trait. However, by talking, you also set the groundwork for a more open relationship as they grow.

How to Move Forward: Re-establishing the Bond

Once you’ve gathered some information and spent some special time together, you can slowly start to reintroduce grandma into your toddler’s life.

Keep the meetings short and sweet at first, and gradually increase the time as they become more comfortable.

Make the reunions happy occasions so that your toddler starts to associate positive feelings with seeing grandma.


The relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild is special and should be nurtured carefully. With time, patience, and the right approach, your toddler will likely outgrow this phase, and the bond will be as strong as ever.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Why did my toddler suddenly start to hate grandma?

It’s hard to pin down one reason as every toddler is different, but it’s not uncommon for toddlers to go through phases where they show aversion towards grandparents.

The shift could be triggered by a number of factors, such as a change in routine, like starting daycare, or even a newfound sense of independence.

Is it my fault that my toddler doesn’t want to see grandma?

No, it’s usually not anyone’s “fault.” Toddlers are still developing emotionally and socially. The dislike could be due to a multitude of factors that have nothing to do with you or grandma.

However, it’s essential to be supportive of your toddler while also considering grandma’s feelings.

Should I force my toddler to spend time with grandma?

Forcing a child into an uncomfortable situation is not recommended. It can make the aversion stronger and create a tense atmosphere, which isn’t good for anyone involved. Instead, try to find the root of the issue and address it while respecting your toddler’s feelings.

How can I mend the relationship between my toddler and grandma?

Start with small, positive interactions between your toddler and grandma. Make sure these are situations where the toddler feels safe and secure.

Gradually, as they get more comfortable, you can extend the time they spend together. Consistency and patience are key here.

My toddler is fine with grandpa but not with grandma. Why?

Children may have different feelings towards different people, and that’s okay. Your toddler might feel more secure around one grandparent for reasons that are not immediately apparent.

It doesn’t mean that they will dislike grandma forever; it’s just a phase that many toddlers go through.

My mother-in-law (grandma) is taking it personally. What should I do?

It’s natural for grandparents to feel hurt or even rejected when a toddler suddenly shows aversion towards them.

It’s important to reassure grandma that these feelings are common in toddlers and do not reflect the quality of her relationship with the grandchild.

Keep her involved in a manner that’s comfortable for the toddler, and let her know that it’s likely just a phase.

Does this mean my toddler will have issues bonding with other family members or peers?

Not necessarily. Toddlers go through various developmental stages and their preferences for people can change rapidly. Just because they are showing dislike for grandma right now doesn’t mean they will have trouble bonding with others in the future.

Are there activities that can help my toddler like grandma again?

Yes, consider activities that allow them to bond in a stress-free environment. This could be anything from baking together, drawing, or even a simple park visit.

The goal is to allow them to spend quality time together, building positive memories.

My toddler says they’re scared of grandma. What should I do?

Take your child’s feelings seriously and try to find out why they feel this way. Are they scared because grandma scolded them once, or is it something else?

Depending on what you find, you might need to have a conversation with grandma about her interaction style or find ways to make your toddler feel more secure around her.

My toddler used to love spending the night at grandma’s house but now throws a tantrum at the mention of it. What changed?

Again, it could be a variety of factors. Perhaps your toddler has developed separation anxiety or had a bad dream the last time they were away from home. Try to get to the root of the issue before planning another sleepover.



This post is written and edited by Sandy who is a clinical pharmacist with over 20 years of experience specializing in pre-natal and post-natal care.