My kids have a bad case of PGSD: Post-Grandparent Spoiled Disorder. For those of you unfamiliar with PGSD, it is characterized by a dramatic increase in whining, pouting, and tantrums, a loss of ability to use words like “please” and “thank you” and ask nicely, and the expectation that every whim will be entertained instantly.
If your children are suffering from PGSD, you may notice that they express unusual dietary requests, like fruit snacks for breakfast or popcorn for dinner. They may begin to whine if you don’t give them what they want within 2 nanoseconds. PGSD can also infect a child’s toys, causing their rooms to be suddenly overwhelmed with new acquisitions, usually ones that make noises or have impractical, small parts or are completely age-inappropriate. In rare extreme cases, PGSD can involve live pets, ear piercing, or the inexplicable introduction of chewing gum to your two-year-old. In older children, expect a considerable amount of heavy sighing.
Treatment for PGSD includes a strict return to normal routines, refusal to grant requests made inappropriately (for example, rather than give your child an apple because he points to it and grunts, force him to actually say, “Please, may I have an apple?”), and long naps in their own beds. If possible, avoid long public outings in the period of PGSD, which can last 1-2 weeks following a visit with grandparents, depending on the duration of their stay and the extremity of the spoiling. Be prepared to use the phrase “At our house, we” (don’t pull the dog’s tail, don’t whine, use manners, etc.) for a while. Eventually, with vigilance, behavior will return to normal. It is suggested that parents of children experiencing PGSD stock up on wine to help fortify their defenses and replenish them at the end of a long, trying day.
PGSD is avoidable, of course, but may mean that parents do not have kid-free time for a minimum of 18 years. Even with brief exposure to grandparents, some children will display signs of PGSD. PGSD can also be caused by aunts, uncles, family friends, godparents, or any adult smitten with your child but not responsible for molding said child into a productive, responsible member of society. Teaching children from a young age that different houses and people have different rules may be helpful in combating PGSD.
While PGSD is difficult, take comfort in the fact that someone else so thoroughly loves your child. Also, consider feeding your children lots of sugar before handing them over to the source of PGSD in the future, just to give them a taste of how PGSD impacts your life.