Being a Grandparent is a special milestone in life. The joys of sharing time and interests with grandchildren give them self assurance. The Search Institute identifies several traits that children need to be successful in life, called assets. What are assets? In short, they are the skills and values children need to overcome troubles and trials in life. They aren’t financial assets,, they are opportunities, skills, relationships, values and self perceptions that all young people need in their lives to overcome obstacles. The more assets they have, the better prepared they are in life. To read more about internal and external assets check out http://www.search-institute.org/content/what-are-developmental-assets
Following is a list to get you started, read through and see what activities you might be able share with the children in your life.
- Support their parents- reinforce what they do well and give them a break once in a while. Parenting is hard work and not one gets it right all the time. Be respectful of them, even if you would do it differently.
- Have clear boundaries and high expectations for how you expect them to behave when they are with you. Talk with them about why you believe this and why it is important to you.
- Introduce them to other caring elders such as your friends or other relatives. The more exposure older people and youth have to one another, the better they will be to relate and get along. Look for common interests like gardening, or camping or a hobby that you might enjoy doing together.
- Help make history come alive for them. Tell them stories about their parents when they were children and about your own life. Help them think about their future by talking about goals and dreams that you had as a young person and how you achieved them.
- Model life- long learning by reading, taking classes or lessons or trying new things. My grandmother was determined at the age of 90 she wanted to learn to use the computer and do electronic banking with a debit card.
- Model involvement in community service. Why do you enjoy living in the community you do and how can you give back?
- Attend community and school events that they are involved in to share in their interests
If you are a grandparent, try to spend individual time with each grandchild—talk with them about why are they special how much you love them. Try to avoid making comparisons among them recognize the skills and talents they each have. Avoid making comparisons among them. Enjoy each one as they are. Try board games or card games or even computer games to spend time together and talk about other things on their mind. These offer ways to teach skills like sharing, patience, and being fair in a fun way. Expose them to cultural, religious and family rituals. Think about what’s going on in the community this summer like concerts, or plays or even just a walk downtown. This gives children exposure to the local arts and when they are older there’s a whole world of cultural events that are not too far away to explore. Talk with them about your values, priorities and world issues that concern you. Emphasize why these things are important to you and how they influence your life.
Spending time with children is not only a memory in the making, but it is an opportunity to build assets for a successful and promising future for a child.