A psychology expert has come up with a six-point guide to help grandparents looking after children steer clear of family feuds and get more enjoyment from the patter of tiny (and large) feet this summer.
Professor Martin Milton, Director of Counselling Psychology programmes at Regent’s University London, explains:
“Each generation grows up in different circumstances, so what suits children today won’t always seem appropriate to adults.
“When grandparents have a good relationship with parents, an open discussion about any anxieties can often create a closer family understanding.
“However, not all families manage this and grandparents often use examples of grandchildren’s behaviour as a way of lecturing parents about their own perceived faults.
“Rather than using criticism to try and make a difference, grandparents should think beyond taking away electronic gadgets and come up with interesting and fun alternatives.”
Professor Milton’s six-point guide
1. Get involved and offer to have the kids on a regular basis, and make sure these times include alternative activities. This gives grandchildren a chance to bond with you and enjoy things like walks in the park, reading, cooking, or helping in the garden
2. Develop your own ‘house rules’ so grandchildren know, while they may have four-hour online marathons at home, gadgets and computers are on for no more than an hour in your house
3. Make the other three hours something your grandchildren can relate to – don’t just turn devices off then banish them to homework or isolation
4. Make a plan. It’s no good telling grandchildren off for playing Xbox if all that happens instead is joining you for hours of mindless TV-watching
5. Don’t be passive: when you know your grandchild has a hobby, make sure you encourage it. If your grandchildren like ballet, check out what’s on and take them to the local theatre if you can
6. Talk to them about their wider lives. Show an interest in what else they’re doing, who their friends are, what ambitions they have, and places they’d like to visit.
Professor Martin Milton is Counselling Psychology Programme Director at Regent’s University London