As we approach Grandparents Day, the experts at the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program are shining a spotlight on the vital role that grandparents hold in their grandchildren’s lives.
Simultaneously, they are celebrating the profound wisdom and life experience of the older generation while urging grandparents to recognise the distinctive challenges they encounter in today’s ever-evolving landscape of parenthood.
Dr. Alan Ralph, the Head of Training at Triple P International, emphasised the increasing support provided by grandparents, which serves to ease the financial burdens on parents. However, he stressed the importance of recognising that today’s grandparents grew up in a generation where discussions about matters such as mental health and anxiety were not as openly addressed as they are nowadays.
“Australia’s grandparents are now the biggest providers of informal childcare for children, but at a time when according to the Australian Psychological Society, children are living with increased levels of anxiety and stress,” Ralph said.
“On top of that, grandparents also need to grapple with new technology and the ever-changing world of social media, and might feel ill-equipped to support their grandchildren when issues arise.
“In our grandparents’ generation, anxiety in children was often described as a passing phase or stage. But now we know it’s important to help children develop coping skills to manage their anxiety without resorting to negative practices, like yelling or forcing them to do certain things when they are not ready.
“Even though this generation of kids may appear to be vastly different, grandparents should still trust in their own experiences and wisdom. While it’s true that talking about mental health and anxiety may not have been common during their time, that doesn’t mean they’re not well-equipped to offer invaluable understanding and support.
“They have the benefit of experience, as well as perspectives that come from having witnessed multiple generations grow and develop.”
Triple P offers three valuable suggestions for supporting anxious grandchildren:
1. Recognise, understand, and accept a child’s feelings: For example, communicate it’s okay to experience uncomfortable feelings (e.g. anger, sadness) as well as comfortable feelings (e.g. happiness, confidence) and appropriately share your own feelings, without dwelling on upsetting or worrying events.
2. Teach children how to express their feelings in a way that is not going to be hurtful to themselves or others. Chat with them about their emotions and listen to them without telling them how to feel. And lead by example, showing them how to express feelings appropriately.
3. Help children develop an optimistic outlook. This can make all the difference in their ability to persevere when things get difficult. One effective way is to do some activities that can help kids learn how to stick with challenges, such as playing games that require teamwork or problem-solving skills, like puzzles or board games.
In addition to the above, it’s important to acknowledge not only the distinctive contributions you bring as a grandparent but also to grasp the essential strategies and insights needed to effectively fulfill this significant role in your grandchild’s life. Recognising your role is the initial step, yet understanding how to nurture and fortify the bonds with your grandchild is imperative for establishing a lasting and positive influence.
To assist you in carrying out this vital role, Bayu Prihandito, the founder of Life Architekture and a certified Psychology Expert & Life Coach, offers the following recommendations to improve your connection with your grandchild and create a meaningful impact in their life.