By Linda Gilden, Crosswalk.com
We all need to feel special. But what great joy you have when you become a grandparent and you have the privilege of making the next generation of your family feel the love and encouragement of their grandparents.
There are many ways to make your grandchildren feel special. Many of them involve spending time with your grandchildren one-on-one. Here are a few suggestions for getting started.
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1. One-on-One Time
Invite your grandchild to go out to eat or come over to your home for a meal. If you go out to eat, let him or her pick the place. If you eat at home, which is probably a good idea during these COVID days, prepare his or her favorite foods. Yes, you can survive eating hot dogs or pizza for one meal. If you need to fix something different for yourself, that’s fine.
When your grandchildren come over to your house, be prepared to drop everything else to play games of their choosing. Teach them how to play a new card game. Bring out a board game you liked to play when you were a child. If it is pretty weather outside, challenge him or her to a game of kickball or get a plastic bat and wiffle ball and teach him or her how to hit a ball.
Create bases and let them run around them after they hit the ball. This will help them expend some of their energy.
Invite one grandchild at a time to have a sleepover at your house. Plan fun things he or she would enjoy. Put a tent up in the backyard and sleep outside. If you can’t sleep outside, make an inside tent out of blankets and curl up by the fire and watch a movie.
Baking is always fun with a grandchild. Chances are that it is not a favorite activity of all the grandchildren. But if you know your grandchild likes to bake, make sure you have ingredients if they are coming for a visit. Choose a neighbor or special friend and deliver the cookies to him or her. That adds the element of service to what you are doing.
Does one of your grandchildren like to fish? Find a nearby pond or lake where you can go together for an afternoon of fishing. When you get home, clean the fish together and cook them for supper.
In this age of technology grandparents sometimes find themselves lacking in the skills they need to do research on the computer, make folders on their phones, access an online event, etc. Those things and so much more are skills that your grandchild can do easily.
Your grandchild would be flattered if you asked him or her to come over and give them a lesson or two in how to use electronic devices.
Get creative with how you can spend quality time with each of your grankids!
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2. Give Them Lots of Attention
Celebrating unbirthdays is a good way to give a grandchild extra attention, a feeling of being celebrated just for existing, even when it isn’t their birthday! Gifts are optional but a meal with the child’s favorite foods, a crown or sash as a special designation, and a cupcake with a candle is enough to create a celebration.
When a grandchild passes a milestone in his or her life, a celebration is called for. Whether taking his or her first step, graduating from Kindergarten, sitting on the bench for the championship team, learning to drive, or graduating from high school, celebrate those once in a lifetime events
Grandchildren like to get notes or letters in the mail. If you live in the same city as your grandchildren, write a special note and next time you are over at their house, slip into their room and put it on their pillow.
If your grandchildren live in another city, mail a special card, note, or even a picture taken of a special time you were together. Let them know every time you are together is a special memory.
If a grandchild is sick and has to stay home from school and other activities, go to the store and buy popsicles. Take them by the house with a note that says, “Here are some magic popsicles to make you feel better!” Most likely the next time you talk to your grandchildren they will say, “Hey, Grandma, those magic popsicles really worked!”
Learn what each grandchild’s favorite candy or snack is. When you are picking them up at school or taking them to an activity, make sure you have one in the glove compartment for munching.
Giving your grandchildren extra attention, especially when it’s for no particular reason, will help them to feel extra secure in your love and extra worthy in God’s eyes.
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3. Encourage Their Interests
From the time your grandchildren are born, they are developing their own interests and hobbies. Watch for signs that your grandchild is developing a new interest and do everything you can to encourage learning that skill or craft.
If your grandchild expresses an interest in art, purchase him or her some canvases, paint, brushes, and other supplies. Find an easel where they can display their artwork. Hang their artwork in your home where others can see it.
Perhaps sports is high on the list of things your grandson or granddaughter loves to do. Make sure they have all the equipment they need to practice and home and become proficient in their skills. Attend games or sports events when you can to cheer them on!
Writing may be your grandchild’s greatest interest. Help him or her think of events in their lives that would make good stories. If you are good at writing, create a story together and send it to a magazine for publication. Many publications accept stories from young writers.
By encouraging their talents and interests, you are helping them to become all that God has created them to be, and helping to train them in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).
Even if your grandchildren gives this interest up in a few months, it will still make an impression on them that you were there to cheer them on. And those sorts of love deposits last much longer than their possible affinity for a musical instrument!
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4. Create New Traditions
Being on the receiving end of a special family tradition makes a grandchild feel special. One family’s grandparents give their grandchildren their first bicycle on their sixth birthday. That special gift is looked forward to as soon as the grandchild learns about the tradition.
Another family celebrates their ten-year-old grandchildren’s birthdays by taking them on a trip – just the ten-year-old and his or her grandparents. The grandparents give the child some guidelines and the child picks the destination.
One of our parameters is that we have to be able to drive to the destination. With our first several grandchildren their first choice was Hawaii. That seemed a little far (and expensive!) for us so we instituted the only-within-driving-distance rule. There are plenty of fun places within driving distance of our home.
Also, we asked them to pick a spot that we would ordinarily not choose for a family vacation. We wanted that trip to be special where we could do fun things with that specific ten-year-old.
You may need to just give your grandchildren a list of three or four places to choose from based on your physical capabilities. For example, if you have limitations or low stamina, I wouldn’t put “hike to a waterfall at the top of a mountain” on the list. Make sure it is something you and your grandchild will enjoy.
We found that when we first began our ten-year-old trips, we could physically do a lot more. Now there a few activities and places we tend to leave off the list.
One grandmother started the tradition of passing a family heirloom down to a grandchild when he or she turned 16.
For the girls, it is usually a piece of jewelry that belonged to her grandmother or great-grandmother. Sometimes the stone is changed to the child’s birthstone. Other times there is a setting that belonged to a family member that can be conformed to something the sixteen-year-old would enjoy. This gives them a special piece of family history.
For the boys, the choice is usually something special of a grandfather or great grandfather. Perhaps a pocket knife or a favorite writing pen. If Grandpa has a special collection, the sixteenth birthday might be a great time to pass that along.
Decorating and undecorating for the holidays can become a fun tradition for the whole family. Save an afternoon or evening to do these chores and they become more events than chores. End with a family dinner and a seasonal movie.
Do you like homemade ice cream? Make that a family tradition. Making ice cream doesn’t have to be a summertime-only occasion. Keep it in the freezer year-round so you can have a treat whenever you want.
Time spent with a grandchild is never wasted. Use the time you are together wisely to pour love and encouragement into your grandchildren.
Not only will it enrich the relationship during their growing years, but it will bond you with them for life.
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