• 1) Be a Great Listener

    As a child, there’s nothing better than having a loving adult tune in and listen attentively to your ideas. As a grandma, you have an amazing opportunity to pull up a front row seat and listen to whatever your grandchild wants to share. Make an effort to avoid the distractions of the daily grind and jump on the chance to connect just by opening your ears and smiling as you soak in every word. As kids get older, hold back on offering your opinion until they ask for it. This “listening trick” will earn you the badge of a great listener and, as a bonus, your grandchild will actually listen to your amazing advice when you share it.

    2) Skip the Sugarcoat

    As a grandmother, you want nothing more than to see your grandchild happy. That said, sometimes life isn’t so sweet! Resist the urge to sugarcoat things and know that being honest is the best policy. If your little love topples down and has a skinned knee or an older child is having a meltdown, instead of saying, “You’re okay,” (which may be far from the truth) try saying, “That wasn’t fun,” or “I know this is hard.” By choosing words that accurately mirror what’s going on, you’re connecting with your grandchild and building trust that will last long after these little setbacks.

    3) Don’t be a Pushover

    One of the fringe benefits of being a grandparent is taking a backseat when it comes to being the “rule enforcer.” In fact, you’re in a prime position to indulge your grandchild here and there! That said, setting limits to ensure that your grandchild is respectful toward you and capable of hearing you say no from time to time is important. This will prevent you from being seen as a “pushover” and allow you to enjoy your grandchild knowing that you can keep things safe and under control!

    4) Avoid Getting Caught in the Middle

    Parents and children will always argue and disagree, which may be hard to watch as a grandparent. The urge to defend one side or step in as a mediator may be strong, but it may cause more trouble than it’s worth. The best strategy is to respectfully step out of the line of fire and let things settle without your input. In the end, being “Switzerland” allows you to support everyone when the dust settles and potentially offer your two cents (if it’s solicited) when emotions aren’t running so high.

    5) Give Big Love!

    This may go without saying, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to make sure your grandchild reaches his or her full potential. Saying “I love you” is fantastic. Showing you love your grandchild is even better. If you’re miles away make a point to call or write (a mode of communication kids these days will rarely engage in if you don’t show them how!). If you’re in the neighborhood, bring on the hugs and cuddles. Let your grandchild know that you appreciate his or her special talents and how hard they work when trying something new. All of this will fill up their internal reservoir of self-esteem and provide a safety net they can rely on for years to come.

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    Article by: Dr. Stephanie O'Leary

    Stephanie O'Leary, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in Neuropsychology, and a mom of two. She provides parents with a no-nonsense approach to navigating the daily grind while preparing their child for the challenges they’ll face in the real world. www.stephanieoleary.com

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