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Taking care of grandchildren will always be a love-hate affair for any grandparent. The elderly of the previous generation, proud of living with their children, naturally looked after their grandchildren at home. Even though they struggled, they did not complain out of fear of being excluded, having to live alone or being placed in a nursing home.
Conversely, today's grandparents are mostly economically independent and physically able; most of them walk around with their peers. If there is no particular reason, they would rather live away from their married children to avoid friction.
However, family life has dramatically changed since the dawn of the COVID epidemic. Working and going to school at home has doubled the pressure on ordinary working parents. Even when work returns to normal, schools may be suspended if there is a new case; thus, looking after the child falls on grandparents. We say that grandchildren are the "heart and flesh" of grandparents. Yet, it is hard to get close to them, and children will always be children. When they are cute, they are like angels, but when naughty, they are like little demons. It is not only about picking up after them and cooking their meals but also shouldering the responsibility of teaching. In addition, the current family can be more complex, and children may not be raised by the same parents who gave birth to them. How to take appropriate measures to make those little young’uns feel the love and care of grandparents is a universal question.
A good parent-child relationship forms the basis for the effective discipline of children. The same is said when caring for grandchildren, except the parent's role is now the grandparent's. This relationship also allows children to grow in an environment where they feel safe and loved. The following are the elements of a good parent-child relationship:
  • Enhance trust and security
When parents actively express their love to their children, they will regard their parents as reliable figures. They will trust their parents to provide encouragement and support when needed. With someone to trust, their sense of security will improve. Grandparents can also do this but be sure not to rob the trust your grandchildren have for their parents. Instead, look to strengthen the relationship between them. Grandparents are encouraged to talk privately with parents if issues arise with their children.
  • Pay attention and spend quality time
An emotional relationship is like a seedling; it needs time and attention to cultivate, so a parent-child relationship needs enough nutrients to blossom and bear fruit. No matter how busy your life is, try to leave some time for your grandchildren to talk about their day and understand each other's feelings. These windows of time spent together, sending the kids to school, picking them up, reading them bedtime stories, and shopping together is all worth fighting for.
  • Be fair
Punishments should be reasonable and only used to teach children about their bad behaviour. On the other hand, when they perform well, appreciate and reward them. The younger they are, the more they need immediate rewards. When they get older, rewards can be delayed. For example, using a reward chart to document good behaviour and achievements is a great way to motivate your child. Once they have accumulated a certain amount of these achievements, reward them accordingly.
  • Appropriate emotional management
When children throw tantrums, the first step is always to calm them down before understanding their unhappiness. However, it is equally as crucial that you don't indulge the child as it may promote this behaviour in the future. Instead, communicate that you are trying to understand them but disagree with losing their temper. After understanding their perspective, you can give appropriate guidance. If you can exercise restraint and let your child feel your love and care even when you discipline them, you will yield better results. A family offers each other support. Grandparents should let their grandchildren freely express both positive and negative emotions but should also guide and encourage them to express themselves in a more suitable way.
  • Transform conflict into cooperation
For older grandchildren who hold very different views, conflict is natural. The problem is that this conflict does not have to appear in a "you lose, I win" situation. Often, the two sides can communicate, compromise, and work together to find a mutually acceptable method to achieve a win-win situation where both parties are happy.
  •  Build family cohesion
Only when there is participation and commitment can there be a sense of belonging. Therefore, encourage your grandchildren to participate and support the family, such as celebrating family members' birthdays, putting up New Year's home decorations or moving preparations, etc. These activities make the child feel valued as a family member, encouraging them to contribute more to the family.