Digital Altruism

Cultivating compassion in the 21st century.

Summer Advice for Grandparents

Ten ways to build strong relationships with your grandchildren this summer!

Spending time with your grandchildren and not sure how to relate? Here’s a list of 10 things grandparents can do to improve their relationships and have fun with the young people in their lives. 

 1) Practice being in the present moment. Children are spontaneous creatures—lighten up on your routine and see where the day takes you.

 2) Stay abreast of popular films and popular video games. An older person who has heard of Despicable Me and Minecraft is much more interesting to a younger person than one who hasn't.  

 3) Walk, bike, hike, swim, practice yoga, or go to the gym. Whatever your fitness level, by including your grandchildren in your exercise routine they’ll be more likely to view you as strong, capable, and energetic.

4) Too often grandparents give money as a way to relate. A better approach is to give children a fun way to earn it. Helping you with a project, for example, taking care of a summer garden, cleaning out a closet, or helping you with a garage sale.

5) Be funny. Learn some jokes and riddles. This exercises your memory and keeps your brain fit.

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6) Let young people help you take care of a family pet. Many children love animals. You can strike up a conversation with them about animals nearly anytime. Don't have a pet? Consider purchasing them a goldfish, or volunteering to walk the dogs at the local animal shelter. 

 7) Inspire goodness through your own example. If you participate in a community garden or volunteer at the local soup kitchen, be sure to take your grandchildren with you.  They might say they don’t want to go, but chances are later on they’ll be glad they did. When you go through the drive-thru, pay for the person behind you. When they ask you why you did (which they probably will) tell them about “random acts of kindness” and how they make a world a better place.  If you can’t get out of the house, or don’t have extra money, tell them about “digital altruism” and the “cyberhero”. Show them how they can use the computer to help other people, animals, and the environment.

8) Play!  Be a person who looks for fun. An older person who plays the accordion or guitar is far more intriguing than one who doesn't. Not into music? Join the local playhouse and audition for a role. Chances are they might have a role for your grandchild too. What could be more memorable?

9) Make things by hand. Teach your grandchildren to sew, knit, work with clay, build models, or make sushi.  Younger people need these skills and will always remember that they learned them from you!

10) If you’re not familiar with how to use Facebook, or you’ve never played an online game, let your grandchildren teach you a few things. This will build their self-esteem and they’ll always remember (and be proud) that they were the one who taught you!

Dana Klisanin, Ph.D., is an integral psychologist specializing in the use of arts and media to promote altruism and compassion.

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