Family matters: Encouraging Grandchildren and Grandparents To Bond

The need for this post may surprise you. It’s easy to think that the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is inherent; natural; something that blooms and brings the greatest possible joy to both your parents and your children. How could something so wonderful need to be encouraged?

Unfortunately, the truth is that sometimes, the bond between grandparents and their grandchildren does need to helped along. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • You no longer live close to your parents, so your children are not accustomed to having their grandparents in their lives. As a result, you may find that your children are shy around your parents and aren’t sure how to act.
  • One or both of your parents are no longer living in their own home, but are instead living at Porthaven care homes and similar facilities. This means your kids are unlikely to just be able to pop round to visit Gran as and when they want.
  • Finally, your parents may be struggling with physical health issues or dementia, which can make conventional, simple bonding difficult.

If any of the above circumstances apply, you may find that the relationship between your parents and your children isn’t quite as close as you may wish it was. Thankfully, this is an area that you can address— here are a few ideas you may want to consider…

Share a skill

Many children naturally look up to their grandparents as a source of wisdom, so sharing a skill can be a wonderful way of making the most of this tendency. Your parents could teach your children how to cook, or share hobbies such as crafting, gardening, and other low-intensity choices. The actual skill itself is not particularly important; it’s the ability for both your parents and your children to focus on something else, rather than trying to make awkward conversation with one another. Essentially, the skill is a gateway to greater, personal bonding, and this can prove very efficient at helping to bring two very different generations closer together.

Share a story

Most of us can remember our grandparents telling us stories about their lives, and memories of those stories are some of the most cherished we have. However, while a grandchild learning about the life of their grandparent is important, sharing stories should ideally go both ways. Try to encourage your children to share stories with your parents whenever they see them. The stories don’t have to be elaborate; a simple “here’s what I did today” can provide a source of conversation that helps put everyone at ease.

Play board games

Even in an age of video games, there’s still a place for old-fashioned board games. These games give everyone playing something to focus on; as discussed above, this is a great way of allowing a conversation to naturally flow. Additionally, board games are naturally fun; they create a competitive, lighthearted environment that can be just what your parents and children need to let go and relax in one another’s company. We play a lot of board games that involve the whole family. No family member is too young nor too old to enjoy a good game!

Final thoughts

The ideas above may help your children and your parents to develop a closer relationship, but it’s important to remember that these things take time. Sometimes, the best thing you can do may be to give your children and your parents the chance to build a relationship at their own pace. Give the above a try, but don’t be afraid to just step back and let things happen naturally, too.

 

Bed Time And Behaviour

Bed time can be a nightmare for parents (and children, come to that). Little ones can often point blank refuse to go to bed at all, or they might head off willingly only to pop up in the living room every 10 minutes asking for a drink, a snack, a story, to be tucked in… They might even go to bed and get to sleep but wake in the night and climb into their parents’ bed. These behaviours are common, but that’s not to say they should be allowed. In fact, without intervention, they will just get worse and they will have a detrimental effect on your child’s health.

Tired Little O after a busy day.

Losing out on just a few hours of sleep is a big issue for children. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a variety of different problems (some of which will manifest immediately, others will take their time to be seen). These include lower academic standards and abilities, as well as general behaviour problems. They are no different to adults in this respect – you know how unproductive and sluggish you feel when you haven’t sleep well and that is how the child will be feeling too; they just don’t have the words or emotions to express it well.

If you are having problems at bedtime, here are some ideas that can help.

What’s The Problem?

If your child really does have difficulty sleeping despite the rules and the routine, there could be another issue going on. Encourage your child to talk about their problems so that you can come up with a solution together. There could be a variety of issues at play, so getting to the bottom of what’s wrong and putting a plan together to tackle it is essential if you want your child to sleep well.

Perhaps your little one doesn’t know how to self-soothe, or maybe they get bored lying in bed. Perhaps they are uncomfortable and it’s time to get some new furniture for your kids. They could have seen something on TV that worried them, or heard their parents arguing. Their imaginations might be running riot and they believe there is a monster in the cupboard or under the bed.

Have Bed Time Rules

If you create a set of bed time rules that teach your child what you expect from them and what they should expect from you, it can make things easier. Children – despite what many people might think! – like rules. They like order. So they will go along with what is suggested when they know there is no choice.

To start with you will need to establish the right time for your child to go to bed. This is crucial. Work backwards from the time they have to get up to ensure that they are going to have enough sleep. When you know what time bed time is, you can arrange dinner and bath time around it. Next you need to work out the actual bedtime routine. This might include reading a story (or offering older children a little time to read by themselves) or discussing the day’s events. Then you need to impress upon the child that once they are in bed they should stay there unless they need the toilet or feel unwell and so on. Keep working on these rules until they are set in stone – there may be resistance to begin with, which is why you will have to persevere.

Have Good Bed Time Habits

We all know that watching TV, playing video games, using a smartphone and so on is detrimental to our sleep cycles and that ideally screens shouldn’t be used in the hour before bed. If it’s the case for adults it’s definitely the case for children. Therefore, parents need to promote healthy habits in the time leading up to bed time so that their children can get the best sleep possible.

Rather than having screen time, the hour before bed should be used to engage in quiet, relaxing activities. This could be reading, colouring, playing with educations toys such as bricks or even just having a nice warm bath and hopping right into bed after that.

Reward Good Behaviour

Rewarding good behaviour shouldn’t be seen as a ‘bribe’ or a ‘last resort’ – it can actually help immensely with children who need to have a goal to work towards in order to get things done. You could create a sticker chart and award one sticker for every time your child stays in their own bed all night or goes to bed without a fuss, for example. Once enough stickers have been earned, this can be converted into a prize of some sort – perhaps a day out or a special meal. Work out where the problem areas lie and use your reward system to help ease them.