Encouraging Bonds Between Grandparents and Preschoolers

Eliza Clark
August 6, 2010

There are many unspoken assumptions that go along with having a baby. One of them, in many families, runs as follows: "We are giving our parents the gift of a grandchild."

And so it goes. Even as new parents, we remain our parents' children. We expect and hope that they will be as proud and thrilled about the new baby as we are. And they almost always are.

The concept of grandchildren and the fact of rambunctious, loud, mess causing, mischievous, passionate toddlers and preschoolers are, however, two different things. Some grandparents roll with the reality of small children, but others may need a bit of coaching on the art of intergenerational bonding.

For those who don't seem to know what to do with their dynamic little descendants, a little guidance may be in order. As the "middle generation" we are often responsible for keeping both kids and grandparents happy, and that is no easy task. But a few suggested activities may go a long way toward encouraging the bonds between small children and their beloved grandparents.

For starters, you might want to propose the following ways for grandparents to spend their time with the little ones:

  • Teaching a special game or hobby (i.e. card games, gardening, fishing, stamp collecting, cooking, knitting, painting, sports and so on)
  • Reading aloud a series of books (or chapters of a favorite book)
  • Going on outings reserved only for grandparents (i.e. a particular park, museum and/or ice cream parlor!)
  • Telling stories from way back when (This might get the grandparents thinking about writing down a memoir for the family - we can only hope!)
  • Creating a kids' corner at grandparents' house (Kids can collaborate on this, adding special toys, books, and extra clothes.)

And for any grandparent who takes the role to heart, we love Adair Lara's very funny The Granny Diaries: An Insider's Guide for New Grandmothers. Grains of salt are sprinkled freely here on the whole sentimental notion of the doting granny.  New grandparents experience a profound, if often misunderstood identity shift, and Lara illuminates it with wry wit, grace, and boundless love.

Most importantly, time with grandparents is precious and memorable to each generation, no matter the activities involved. Let's do what we can to make the moments happy for all.

From the Parents

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