These core values give kids a great foundation for living a successful life. — By Jennifer Kelly Geddes
“Often grandparents can spend more quiet time with grandkids than
parents, so this is a great opportunity to pass along a little wisdom,”
suggests Karen Wrolson, M.S., a life coach and founder of Excite Ed!, an
educational and motivational consultancy.
Sitting, talking and really listening to your grandchildren as you
share life lessons can make a big difference in how they live their
lives—and often they’ll listen to you when they won’t listen to their
parents. Four lessons you should teach...
What it teaches:
Empathy. Tuning in to another person’s perspective is at the heart of
empathy—and when taught correctly it might prevent future bullying.
How to begin: Doing
a good turn for others is a classic way to explain empathy and also
make a difference in your community. “Set up a regular volunteer
activity so your grandchild can learn about people in need and see that
he has the ability to change someone’s life for the better,” says
Wrolson. Raking a neighbor’s leaves every week, helping to build a
wheelchair ramp at a church or packing care bags for women and kids in a
homeless shelter are just a few ways to start. As you work, share a
time when you were in need of help or understanding. Your hard-earned
experience on the receiving end of empathy makes the lesson real to your
What it teaches:
Gratitude. It’s more than just saying ‘thanks’ when someone hands you
something. Strive to teach kids to appreciate all they have.
How to begin: “Have your grandchild thank people
fully, going beyond a simple ‘thanks’, and express why they like the
gift or how they’ll use it,” says Wrolson. Make a greater impact by
reviving the ancient art of the thank-you note—still an important skill
in the digital age—and help her to pen one. You could also make a point
of expressing gratitude when you’re together, even for the smallest
pleasures (green lights on the road, beautiful sunshine, a smile at the
What it teaches: Respect.
It’s admiration and kindness rolled into one, and a little bit goes a
long way. It’s also a cool song (play it and dance together!).
How to begin: Talk about respecting everyone,
including teachers, cashiers, store clerks, and then model it for your
grandchild, insists Wrolson.
Respect means listening
carefully when someone speaks, looking that person in the eye and
extending common courtesy (holding the door, offering a seat). It also
covers personal property, so remind your grandchild to pick up toys so
others won’t trip and fall and to put the sweatshirt she borrowed from
her brother in his dresser, rather than leave it on the floor. This
behavior can sometimes be forgotten from generation to generation so
bring it back when you’re together.
spent a longer life learning how to deal with people, you can
demonstrate the advantages that come with showing respect. And whatever
you do, curb your own comments and generalizations (‘cops are never
where you need them’ or ‘kids today don’t understand anything’). These
remarks label groups unfairly.
What it teaches: Honesty. Telling the truth, even when it’s unpopular, is the hardest lesson of all.
How to begin: Everyone’s lied and regretted it so
bring up a misgiving or two from your past and explain how you would
have done things differently if you’d known better. Of course it’s
tempting to fib here and there, but even the littlest of kids can detect
an untruth. Avoiding a scary topic or whitewashing for safety reasons
is bound to happen, though much of the time honesty can and should rule
Teach truthfulness by sticking to your
word. Kids will remember if you don’t do what you promised (i.e., take
them to the park after naptime) and might view you as dishonest. Also
explain why honesty is important and what can happen to trust if a child
gets caught in a lie. The other side of this lesson is to praise your
grandkid when he admits to doing something he shouldn’t have. Covering
up a mistake or bad behavior is a natural tendency, so be sure to let
him know how proud you are that he came to you with the truth.
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