THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2017 BUT WAS UPDATED ON 6/21/21
Back in the days, families mostly lived in large households with at least three generations under the roof. Today, grandparents usually live apart from their children and grandchildren and so visiting grandma and grandpa is a holiday: it’s a magical land that smells of freshly baked cookies and apple pie and where everything is allowed.
However, children need to learn how to be empathetic and understand that there are times they have to put someone’s needs before theirs. Along with the good intentions and pure hearts of grandparents, there are bad influences from peers and the outer world. There exist a risk that a child will become inconsiderate and spoiled.
Here’s how you can set a solid foundation for your kids growing up into responsible adults that genuinely care and understand the positions of the elderly while nurturing respect for them.
Be a good role model
Kids are observational learners so you have to be extremely cautious about how you act when they are around. In their perspective, the way you treat others (especially your parents) is the pattern of desirable behavior.
Unfortunately, kids are more prone to mirroring aggressive and negative behavior but if you create a positive environment – they won’t get the chance to pick up the bad habits.
They are still forming and so you have to teach them the difference between right and wrong, not just by talking to them – but by practicing what you preach.
The way you communicate with your parents or how willing you are to compromise when needed – all of it is processed by your children and so they act accordingly in their own personal relationship with grandma and grandpa.
Encourage them to help
The phase of egocentrism is completely natural for preschoolers as they need time for cognitive development and learning about other people’s feelings or thinking. They are yet incapable to fully comprehend their position in the world, the position of others, and the relationships in between as they cannot simply abandon their perspective.
To support them in doing so, gradually introduce them to chores and help them realize they can make a difference. Encourage them to help in-home care as they will also bond with their grandparents, make them clean their room, or do simple chores like watering plants or fluffing the pillows.
Most importantly – show appreciation for their work. If you react positively to their efforts, they will understand their actions are good. When they start doing more demanding work around the house, they will value what you do for them more.
This is how you teach responsibility and empathy.
Celebrate the art of conversation
Kids are curious by nature so they are prone to asking questions.
The fact is, grandparents might seem as they are from another world to them and that their worlds don’t overlap in any way. Start by talking about your parents’ lives and your children will realize they have a lot more in common with them than they thought.
When you spark an interest this way, your kids will surely want to know more about it from grandma and grandpa themselves. That is where the magic of storytelling kicks in.
It is the greatest way for the two generations to bond: kids will build respect (and amazement) for their grandparents’ accomplishments from the past.
They will gain a better understanding of their grandparents’ life paths which may trigger a new perspective and help them become more engaged and respectful.
Let them be
As adults, we tend to urge our kids to realize great truths about life, even though they have to do it at their own pace. All you can really do is arm them with love and a good moral foundation, but they have to figure it out on their own.
It helps if grandma and grandpa set some boundaries and try to teach them about great values and the importance of family. Building this relationship takes time, even though we sometimes want to rush it.
Our adult perspective makes us aware of just how short life is but to kids – it feels as they will be forever young and never become grandparents on their own.
Encourage frequent visits and let the communication follow its natural course. The moment you start forcing anything, your kids will start perceiving going to grandma and grandpa as an obligation.
It can be challenging to bring up caring and respectful kids in today’s world. Follow these tips and have faith your child will find their way.
Today’s post was written by a guest writer by the name of Zara Lewis (@ZaraELewis). Zara is a mom, fitness & yoga enthusiast, caregiver to her mother-in-law, and a regular writer for High Style Life. She is devoted to implementing healthy life habits in every aspect of her life and that of her family and friends.
She loves to share her parenting tips and is always open to learning some new skills because she sees her parenthood as going to school forever. She enjoys traveling, hiking, cycling, and baking.