Teenagers need their grandparents

No matter what they may tell you, teenagers need grandparents in their lives.

Never doubt for a minute your influence on your teenage grandchildren. Healthy connections with adults are one of the most important factors in helping teens develop into successful adults. The following are ideas suggested by Michigan State University Extension to help grandparents strengthen their relationships with teenage grandchildren:

When your teenage grandchild makes a mistake, use the situation to help your grandchild learn something. Teach teens how to make amends. For example in a situation where a grandchild may have taken something, say “So you took something that wasn’t yours. How will you return it or repay the person?” The point is to help your grandchild learn a better way of doing things, and not to hurt them through angry words or actions.

Tell your grandchildren what’s good about them, and tell them often. Find out what makes your grandchild unique, and praise them for it. Your words of praise and acknowledgement are very powerful, even if the only response you get is a shrug. You can be sure they heard you, so keep it up.

Teens are going to push, complain, test and try to get around your rules. Don’t give up. Know your rules and enforce them consistently. Be predictable. When you are predictable, your grandchildren can trust you. Allow them the opportunity to make choices. Then, when they keep agreements, make good choices, and honor rules, acknowledge them for being responsible.

When your teenage grandchild says, “I want to tell you something,” it is time to give them your undivided attention. To show that you are listening, make eye contact, nod your head and wait until they are finished to respond. Sometimes the timing for these conversations is not always great, so if that is the case, let them know that and ask if you can talk about it at another specified time. It is extremely important that you keep this appointment. The great thing is, when you hear them out, their willingness to listen to you will also increase.

Show respect to your grandchildren. Acknowledge their feelings, ideas and even their complaints. Teens will learn to show respect to you from the way you show respect to them.

Teens who know they have a community of support – friends, teachers, parents, grandparents and other adults have more fun and success. Encourage their interests and help them find positive ways to take part with others. Get to know their friends.

It takes time to build solid relationships. You are helping to shape the life of another human being, so stay with it. Continue to build this relationship with your teenage grandchild and the future will be brighter for you both.

Think, also of how well you really know your grandchild. Ask them questions and really listen to their answers. The questions don’t have to sound like an inquisition, ask in an offhand way while you are doing other things. Don’t forget to share information about yourself with your grandchildren. They need to be reminded that you were young once, with many of the same feelings, emotions and uncertainties as they may be experiencing.

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