Building Bonds: 3 Proven Strategies to Foster Stronger Connections Between Kids and Their Grandparents

Building Bonds: 3 Proven Strategies to Foster Stronger Connections Between Kids and Their Grandparents

Quality time is one of the most important ways we show someone we care about them. Making time for others, as life goes on can become more and more difficult especially for family members. However, one of the key relationships in a child's developmental years is their relationship with their grandparents. Some connect very easily while others can find this relationship challenging to maintain and grow especially with a grandparent living with Alzhiemer’s or dementia. Here are some ways to help grow these relationships.

To start off with, we live in an age where everything is digital. While this certainly has its benefits, there are some key drawbacks. Technology has been seen as one of the greatest influences to causing the disconnect between children & teenagers and in person conversations. Tech is distracting and can be an escape for some individuals, especially when they are in environments that might be awkward, confusing, or hard to navigate. Encouraging these kiddos to initiate conversations with their grandparents or loved ones is important. However, they do not need to go into the conversation empty handed. Give them conversation starters or some activity  that can be the focus point of the conversation. At Resense, we offer the "Making Connections" flash cards. Each card has a specific topic, such as, school, food, cars. Then on the flip side of the card, they have engagement questions that you or your child could ask their loved one. This is a great activity and bridges that communication gap! They are easy to make or you can get yours for $6 on our shop! (Link below)

Similarly to the last suggestion, another great way to encourage both the younger and older generations to connect is to do a physical activity together. This could be as simple as a board game or as complex as planning a museum field trip! When choosing an activity to do it is important to 1.) be creative but also 2.) consider your loved ones favorite hobbies, foods, skills, and wants. Choose something that you know they will enjoy, especially if you are apart of that experience! Let's walk through some practical examples! 

  • Gardening: If your loved one has a garden, offer to help with the planting or maintaining this summer! It is a great skill to have and who best to learn from than your grandparents :) However, if they are in a care community, bring gardening to them! Get some potting soil, a small pot, and a flower that is easy to manage. You can plant it with them and put it in a window seal for it to grow! When you visit, just remember to water it! 
  • Chores: This might seem extremely simple, but it is appreciated. Recently, we had a conversation with Heather Janes, Owner of Monarch Dementia Caregiver Services ( you will hear from her in a later post, but she mentioned that one of the key things that family members forget when visiting a loved one is to remember that they are there to visit. So, make sure that you are intentional about chatting, catching up, doing a fun activity... and then you can jump into chores or some of the "admin" tasks that you might have.
  • Cards: Cards a great activity to do with your loved ones. There are very simple card games like "go fish" or my personal favorite is Spite and Malice. It is a fun game to play with your family and you will get some great laughs out of it! 
  • Reading the newspaper: This is a great conversation starter. It keeps them up to date with current times but also gives you topics to discuss and learn from your loved ones! However, I understand that sometimes not everything in the news is quite positive. If this is something you are worried about, consider our Resense Register. This is a dementia-friendly newspaper with large font and easy to read, positive news articles. The Register is a monthly newspaper that will be delivered directly to your home or care community. It is printed on classic broadsheet (normal newspaper printing) to help replicate opening the newspaper each morning. The feel of the the newspaper and the content are a sensory experience that your loved one will enjoy.

If finding an activity to do is proving difficult, Resense provides our "Connect & Comfort Kits". These kits are specifically designed to help create quality time and conversations together while improving brain-health. They utilize a nuanced approach to therapy, targeting the senses. Each activity inside is specifically targeting a specific sense but together they provide a great tool for hours of interaction! There are around 6 different types of activities you could do with your loved one. We also provide a "facilitator guide" that provides prompts to ensure that your loved one engages with the activities! If you are interested, check out our shop! Linked below.

Remember: Make these interactions as fun as possible. It will be a more genuine relationship if they feel it is fun and not a chore. Use phrases like “Want to go see grandma? She just got a new fun board game!” Not “you need to go see grandma” or “I think you should see grandma” If a child feels that what they are doing is a fun thing, they will go into it with a much happier attitude, rather than a requirement or chore. Show your gratitude and encouragement when they see them. If they feel that it's fun to see their loved ones and can associate it positively, then they will be much more likely to want to see their grandparents on a regular basis.

Remember this is not something the kids have to do. Make sure that you and whoever else is involved in the grandparents life is making the effort to spend time with them in a fun environment. They are your parents, your grandparents and your friends. If you expect for your children to spend time with them in a fun way, you have to be doing the same. 

With these thoughts and suggestions in mind there are bound to be some amazing memories in your family.

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