Guest Post by Gabriella Diesendorf. Gabriella is a freelance writer from Australia and a devoted mother. She loves badgering about beauty, green lifestyle choices and parenting techniques, and if you mention attachment parenting or natural makeup she will bore you to death.
The bond between grandparents and their grandchildren bears a great significance for children’s development. Not only can a strong and loving relationship affect a child’s emotional development, but it can also contribute to their success in school, bring about higher self-esteem and teach team about compassion and empathy. Thus, it’s of the utmost importance that your children learn to appreciate their grandparents and care about their needs.
It all starts with you
When I want my children to acquire a certain behaviour or habit, I try to expose them to it as much as possible. There’s no one more important to children than their parents who serve as their role models. Later on, when puberty strikes, children tend to rebel against their parents, but until then, they will do everything you do. Thus, if you want your kids to take care of your parents, then you need to take care of them first.
If your parents don’t live with you, make sure to visit them as often as possible, and take your children with you. When your parents come to visit, take care of their needs and try to involve your children, as well. First, your little ones will mimic your behaviour, and later on, they will understand it and acquire it as their own.
Assign tasks to your children
As my children grew older, I assigned them different tasks appropriate to their abilities. You can always start small, and then work your way up to more difficult tasks. This is a great way to teach your children responsibility, introduce them to elderly care and simultaneously build their self-esteem – they will feel so proud and confident because you’ve entrusted them with such an important task.
You can ask them to make tea or coffee for their grandparents, to give them a blanket or serve them a prepared lunch. It’s important that you give them specific tasks that they can accomplish. If you don’t give them any specific instructions, they won’t know what to do – of course, this is the case with smaller children. Finally, tasks need to be appropriate to their abilities – neither too difficult nor too easy. This way, they won’t be discouraged if they fail or bored because the task is too easy.
Talk to them
Once I talked to my children, and explained that their grandparents are older and need some additional care, they were eager to help them out. Your children to learn about the ageing process, which is why a relationship with their parents is so important. You can even use the opportunity to talk about compassion and charity, other people in need and how they can help.
Let them learn about your family history
When my older child had a task to make a family tree, I asked my parents to help instead of me. I thought that this was a great opportunity for them to bond, and for my child to learn more about their grandparents and the rest of our family. Therefore, ask your parents to spend some time teaching your children about family history. They can share their memories, show them old photos and even give them something as an heirloom. This way, your children can learn more about their grandparents and their individual interests, but also about their abilities and special needs.
Choose gifts together
From time to time, I give my children some money to buy presents for their grandparents. At first, I used to choose gifts with them, but now they are able to do that on their own. You might wonder how giving presents can teach your kids about elderly care. Well, when you consider the fact that they need to think about their grandparent’s needs in order to find a relevant gift, it becomes quite obvious. When choosing a gift for someone, you usually think about their needs and interests, so your kids will have to do the same.
Sharing an activity
In order for your children to appreciate and care for their grandparents, they need to spend some quality time together. Since my parents live in one of those over 50’s resorts by the ocean, I could easily think of activities they could do together. They often have picnics on the beach and collect seashells for their own collection. By sharing a fun activity, your children will love spending time with their grandparents and learn to take care of them.
By appreciating and taking care of their grandparents, children can learn a lot about ageing, compassion and empathy. Thus, make sure to teach your kids about elderly care and start by serving as a model.