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How Do You Teach Children to Respect Their Grandparents?

Parul Solanki
In today's fast-paced world, where the influence of media and other factors affect your child, parents need to ensure that they teach their children to respect their grandparents.
What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.
~ Rudolph Giuliani
As a parent, it can be mortifying when your little one refuses to climb up on your parent's lap, or just screams and yells at them every time they show any affection towards him/her. Teaching the child to respect his or her grandparents can seem like an uphill task for most parents.
This is because unlike a century before, most grandparents don't live with their grandchildren now, and often meet only on special occasions like Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Apart from the distance, there are various factors that affect the grandparent-grandchild relationship.
Primary among them is popular media, which is filled with representations of smart-mouthed kids and their hapless parents. It is therefore little wonder that children tend to emulate these characteristics as well.
They often talk back, or resist co-operating with their grandparents. Any efforts by the grandparents to connect with the kids are met with friction and arguments with the parents, as well as grandparents. Unfortunately, most grandparents let the children get away with this.
While they might be doing so out of the love for their grandchildren, this lenient behavior by the grandparents enforces the concept in the child's mind that he/she can get away with the bad behavior and disrespect towards his/her grandparents. So, how do you teach your child to respect their grandparents, or for that matter any elderly?

Teaching Children to Respect their Grandparents

Increase Interaction with Grandparents
Children need to be with their grandparents and spend some time with them to develop that special bond. Where there is love, respect generally comes on its own. On the other hand, if they remain isolated, acquaintances that meet only on certain days, then it is hard to foster respect and love in the child's heart.

What You Can Do

✔ As a parent you need to ensure that you welcome the grandparents to spend time with their grandchildren.

✔ If you live near each other, then ensure frequent visits. If that is not possible, then talk on the phone or via video chats.
✔ Encourage older children to communicate with their grandparents via text messages on phones or emails as well.

✔ Include the grandparents in the child's activities and events at school.

✔ Set up dates where the grandparents can take the children out for movies, walks in the park, or ice cream.
Respect Your Parents
Children learn by example, and it is up to us parents, to model this behavior towards our parents or in-laws.
With your in-laws or parents offering constant advice about every aspect of our lives, it can become second nature to just brush them off or answer them back rudely. When children see this, they are likely to imitate this behavior towards their grandparents. There is a great Jewish parable to illustrate the fact.
There lived a man named Schmuel. His elderly father often spilled soup on the tablecloth due to his trembling . Once when the old man dropped and broke a teacup, Schmuel announced to the old man, from then on he would have food in his room, and gave his father a wooden bowl.
The next day when Schmuel came home, he found his son carving a piece of wood. When asked, the son said that he was making a wooden bowl for him so that when Schmuel was old and his hands would start to shake, he would get this bowl.
What You Can Do
✔ The next time your parents or in-laws offer an advice, just thank them nicely and say you will think about it.
✔ When you visit your parents with the kids, offer some services when you are there, like cleaning the dishes or raking the yard. The concern and love that you show for your parents and in-laws serves as an important lesson of love and care for the children.
✔ When talking about grandparents in front of the children, make sure you talk about them in a respectful, loving way. Even if your relationship with your parents and in-laws are strained, never vent your ire in front of the kids, as they are sure to do the same.
Share Personal Experiences and Common Interests
Grandparents are often a wealth of personal experiences and knowledge.
As kids, we all remember those amazing stories and sayings by our grandparents that left an indelible mark on our minds. Some would remember their grandfather's stories, other would recall the love with which their grandmothers baked cookies on Sundays, often letting the grandchildren help them out. Do you not want your children to have the same experiences.

What You Can Do

✔ Ask kids to persuade their grandparents to tell them some stories or funny anecdotes about their childhood and other experiences. When grandparents narrate these stories, children realize that their grandparents had the same experiences that they are having now. This helps in bonding.
✔ Ask your parents to communicate the family history and traditions with the children.

✔ Play games, bake a dish, or go for movies. Sharing common interests helps in fostering a stronger and relaxed relationship.
Synch Everyone to Your Expectations
When teaching a child certain values like respect and care, it is important to let other people know your plans.
Talk to your parents and in-laws about it. If your parents are over-indulgent and pamper the child too much, it can hamper your plans. The children also need to be told about what is acceptable and not, when the grandparents are there.

What You Can Do

✔ Ask your parents to step into a more authoritative role. They need to be assertive if the child is making a mistake. Being too soft on the grand kids can make the children question the grandparent's authority and disrespect them.
✔ Set clear expectations about respectful behavior towards grandparents. The kids may not be overtly enthusiastic about greeting their grandparents, especially when they are too strict, but it is important to be consistent about setting rules for what is right and what is not, when the children are with their grandparents.
Make sure they greet or wish and shake hands with their grandparents. If they receive gifts, it is important to teach them to thank their grandparents for it.

✔ Being pampered by grandparents is a great feeling. Allow your children to enjoy this as well, but it is best to set a limit.
These days with both parents working, many prefer to leave their kids with the grandparents. This is often a win-win situation as the child does not have to go to daycare, while the grandparents get to spend time with their grandchildren.
In this situation it is best for parents and the grandparents to come to a mutual agreement regarding the child's routine, supervision needed, and disciplinary measures. This will help in avoiding conflicts, while also allow the child to respect his/her grandparents as authority figures.