A child’s relationship with their grandparents provides them with a special kind of support and care. Grandparents are usually less busy than parents and have a lot of time to give to their grandkids. This time and attention help grandkids to flourish socially and be better prepared for life.
Challenges like distance, finances and health issues can make it difficult for children to have the relationship with their grandparents that you want for them. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to strengthen this bond. Here are seven tips for improving your children’s relationship with their grandparents.
- Connect Frequently
One of the best ways to improve a relationship is with quality time. The more time you spend with someone, the more you learn about their personality, history and what makes them excited. Even if you live far away from your parents, you can use online platforms to connect your children with their grandparents.
Try to schedule time together on a routine basis. If you live far apart, this could mean two visits a year with phone calls once a month. If you live close to your parents, consider having monthly or weekly get-togethers so they can be more involved in your children’s lives.
- Plan Visits
Special visits with grandparents can also help children form relationships while giving you a break from parenting. To simplify your life, build these visits into your yearly routine. That way, your kids will start to associate certain holidays or part of the summer with having fun at their grandparents.
For some families, it might work better for parents to accompany kids on these visits. However, most children will really enjoy the freedom of just hanging out with their grandparents for a while. This time alone with their grandparents will build independence and help them develop a strong sense of personhood.
- Use Technology
If regular visits aren’t possible, you can rely on technology to invest in this special relationship. Many social platforms allow messaging and video streaming that can help grandparents and kids stay in touch with each other throughout the year. Some good options include FaceTime, Zoom and Marco Polo.
If your parents don’t already know how to use video platforms, take some time to show them. These messaging solutions are easy to use and can really strengthen their relationship with their grandkids. Online connection brings an opportunity for conversation and games even if you live far away from your children’s grandparents.
- Reduce Screen Time
When your kids spend time with their grandparents, it’s a good idea to take away their screens for most of the trip. If they’re giving their attention to screens, they’re not connecting on a genuine level with family members. Although kids may not like this rule initially, it will improve their relationship with their grandparents.
The best way to build relationships is by paying attention to each other. Through time with their grandparents, your kids will develop social awareness and experience the joy of genuine connection – listening and being heard. They’ll benefit from their grandparents’ wisdom and hear stories about what the world was like before they were born.
- Go on Trips
In addition to regular visits, try planning special trips that bring your kids and their grandparents together. For example, you could plan an annual trip to the zoo or have the whole family go to the beach one year. Even simple trips to the library or grocery store can be special if they’re taken together.
If your parents are international travelers, they may take the kids on special solo trips to visit far-off places. These trips will teach grandkids how to behave in new places and broaden their experiences. Spending time together and sharing fun experiences will build trust and strengthen the bond between grandparents and their grandchildren.
- Have Special Activities
Another way to improve your child’s relationship with their grandparents is to always make their time together special and fun. For example, you could make sure some activities are only done at Grandma’s house. Examples could be baking a special cake, practicing a certain hobby or visiting a special place. These activities should be connected to something your child loves or something that their grandparents enjoy teaching them.
Planning special activities can make the experience of visiting grandparents extremely exciting and something your kids will look forward to all year. This will look different for every family, but the traditions you choose will likely form some of your children’s fondest childhood memories. Many of these traditions may grow organically out of spending time together.
- Use the Mail
Although technology now allows us to see each other in real-time from miles away, nothing can replace the excitement of receiving a package in the mail. You can foster family connections by sending letters and packages from your kids to their grandparents.
These boxes can contain crafts your kids have made, handwritten letters, photos and more. Let your children help you decide what to send. As they get older, the contents will change and become more mature. Their grandparents will treasure every box and may respond with their own letters and packages.
The friendship between a grandparent and their grandchild is invaluable and irreplaceable. Although it may take some trouble, it’s well worth the effort and time it takes to invest in this relationship. It’s especially important to spend time with grandparents when kids are young, as this is when they naturally form strong relational bonds.
Use these seven tips to help your kids form strong connections with their grandparents. These relationships will benefit them for the rest of their lives and fill their childhood with happy memories. You can also take this opportunity to intentionally improve your relationship with your parents and in-laws.