Being a grandma means you get a front-row seat to the most wonderful children in the world’s lives and that you get to love and support them at every age and stage. As you probably remember from raising your kids (your grandkids’ parents!), each stage is hugely different from the last, which can keep any grandma on her toes! No need to fear, though, as I have put together this list of how you can easily bond with your grandchildren at every stage of their lives:
Newborn (0 to 3 months)
You know the old saying that you don’t want to hold a baby too much or you will spoil them? It’s utter nonsense. According to WebMD, the more you hold and love a baby, the better, as they need “constant attention to give them the foundation to grow emotionally, physically and intellectually.” That said, hold onto and cuddle that baby like it’s meeting their basic needs – because it is!
Infant (3 to 12 months)
You’ve had your own kids, so you know that babies are constantly growing and changing. However, bonding with a newborn and an infant is similar, as it calls for lots of holding, cuddling, rocking, kissing, and soothing. In addition to this physical aspect, have conversations with your grandbaby, read them stories, sing songs, and play lots of games (a la Pat-a-Cake, This Little Piggy, and Peek-a-Boo).
Toddler (1 to 3)
Toddlers are busy, adorable, and oh-so-fun! If you see or talk to your grandbaby regularly, he or she should know you by now and probably greets you with a huge smile and squeals. Isn’t being a grandma the best? While toddlers seem so much older physically and developmentally, you can still bond the same way you did when they were an infant.
In addition to the songs, games, and cuddles, grandmas can bond with their toddler grandchild in other ways, including read-alouds, positive affirmations, age-appropriate crafting, and lots of quality one-on-one time.
Preschooler (3 to 5)
Can you believe your grandchild is old enough to be considered a PRESCHOOLER? Where has the time gone? By now, you are probably one of your grandchild’s favorite people, as he or she associates you with love, happiness, fun, and every other positive emotion they have ever felt. By the time your grandchild turns 3, you will notice that they already possess their own unique personality and interests, which you can use to deepen your relationship even further.
Keep doing what you have been doing until this point, but start asking questions to show your interest in them (and their interests), and give them some easy chores/jobs to help them build their confidence and demonstrate their independence.
Grade Schooler (6 to 12)
Needless to say, there is a BIG difference between a 6-year-old and a 12-year-old, but the way to bond is similar over this 6-year span. Since children in this age bracket are beginning to make new friends, learn new things, and become more independent, it is essential that you follow their lead and show interest in what it is that interests them.
Are they suddenly obsessed with a particular sport/team? Make plans to watch a game together (and ask questions!). Is baking or cooking their thing? Ask if you can do it together sometime. Maybe your granddaughter has a crush on a handsome movie star? Movie night, anyone?
Teenager (13 to 18)
Oh, the dreaded teenage years… or are they? Yes, there will be angst, acne, and awkwardness, but overall the adolescent years are fun and a great time to deepen your bond even more. How does one do this with a seemingly unrelatable 15-year-old? You, grandma, were once 15, so talk to them about what being a teenager was like for you and see if you can help them through whatever is going on.
Another great way to bond with your teenage grandchild? Don’t lecture or talk down to them, as it can put a rift in the relationship you have been working so hard to build.
Your grandbaby is no longer a baby – they are a grown adult and are either attending college or working a full-time job (or both!) and figuring out what they will do with their life. Wherever they are, support them. Thanks to the bond you have built from the day they were born, you may find them turning to you for advice regarding jobs, dating, marriage, having babies, and raising them.
Speaking of your grandchild having a baby, you, grandma, have been promoted to GREAT grandma. Congratulations (and don’t forget all the ways you can bond with this next generation)!
I hope these tips for bonding with your grandkids work as well for you as they have for me! Can you think of anything I missed (or that worked for you and your grandchild)? Please let me know! Talk soon!