a special feature from Kay & Leslie, founders of Grandparentslink

One of the most valuable gifts we are able to give our grandchildren is helping to build their self-esteem and self-confidence. Both of these qualities are not inherited; they take practice. As grandparents, we can strike an optimistic chord with our grandchildren and encourage and support positive thoughts and ideas. How can we do this? “Have a go” at these suggestions:

Discuss positive events

Ask your grandchild to tell you one positive event in her day. Discuss why this occurrence made her feel good. Begin with this one event and build a “happy/ good-feeling” list. Put this list in a place that your grandchild can easily access, such as a bedroom or kitchen wall, in a specific folder, in a special drawer…

Help with chores

When you tell your grandchild that you need his help, he feels needed and important.  Ask him to help clean up, set the table, prepare for a party, cook, work in your office. Explain why you need assistance. This will boost his self-confidence and personal self-worth.

If there are siblings, have the older child teach the younger

Let the older sibling play games that boost self-esteem. Whether playing with dolls or trucks or stuffed animals, the older sibling can teach the younger child manners and responsible ways to share. Reading books, playing board games, doing puzzles, teaching a new song or sport, are all fun and give confidence to the older child – and impart a positive boost to both the older and the younger child.

Role play 

There’s nothing like role-playing with children to see how they are feeling and what is going on in their everyday lives. When playing with your grandchildren, you can help them solve difficult situations, teach positive ways of handling different circumstances, and enter a dialogue that might not have otherwise presented itself.

Give back

It’s important for children to take care of themselves, as well as learning to take care of others. Whether participating in the local food drive, donating toys and clothing, or engaging in any kind of community service, children can develop empathy and enjoy the feeling of giving. Helping others is empowering.