Engage your grandchildren to build a relationship

Published 11:03 am Monday, June 5, 2017

by Dr. Carletta N. Perry

Q. We are grandparents raising our granddaughter, but she is so distant. How can we become closer?

A. Many grandparents attempt to bond with their grandchildren by buying them things such as the latest technological gadgets, cool clothes and shoes, and giving them extra freedom with curfew and friends. This can cause some children to feel a sense of entitlement toward their grandparents or see their grandparents not as “parents” — because parents discipline — but as people they can get over on.

Either way, your goal is to have your grandchild come to you when she needs help or wants to talk and it’s not happening.

Here are some ways to engage your granddaughter and create a healthy, long-term relationship:

• Think about your unique grandchild and write down what emotions she might be dealing with based on her life circumstances; Set aside time to discuss these emotions, behaviors and express that you love her very much during and after each talk; if you are uncomfortable, seek a professional counselor but still be involved with the counseling sessions so you are aware of the child’s emotions, progress and how to help at home.

• Incorporate new strategies in your rearing process: create a face-to-face dinnertime schedule and use this time to check in, talk about the day or upcoming events; support and attend her school functions and do things she likes to do sometimes; allow her to earn new things rather than receiving gifts too often; set household rules (chores, curfew, manners, etc.); find a balance in giving freedom and being too rigid by always ask for destination, know friends and friends’ parents’ names and phone numbers, and monitor computer and television usage.

• Create a new family plan of how things will go using some of the suggestions I have noted here. Discuss the plan with her before you implement so she is aware of the rules as well as the consequences. Be consistent or your plan may fail. Children and teens need consistency when it comes to your love, your time and discipline. When you do this, you are saying “I love you.”

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