Grandparents and grandchildren – the best thing since sliced bread?

September 13, 2014 Published by


With grandparents doing an increasing amount of childcare, it is worth looking at the benefit of inter-generational play to young children.  Whilst there are many benefits of letting children play with peers and siblings, and quality time with primary care-givers is precious, grandparents offer another, equally valuable influence on children’s development.


Grandfather Lifting Grandchild


Whilst parents have many demands on their time, grandparents tend to have more patience and time to give children.  They also have a lot more experience and are older and wiser than most of us and children respond well to having an ally, albeit one with slightly old fashioned views on children.  The games that they enjoy playing are more likely to be classic, low-tech games and this helps children get the balanced play diet that they so need.

Some grandparents may be involved in regular child care and thus take more of a parenting role, others are more of an occasional treat.  The relationship that grandparents have with their grandchildren will depend on many things but the joy and benefits both children and the elderly gain from the relationship are huge.



Whilst children are young, grandparents can help form their characters, enhance their sense of identity and belonging by telling them stories of their own and the child’s parent’s childhoods.  Grandparents are also often the glue of the family, keeping cousins in touch and promoting a sense of family which again helps children feel grounded and that they have a place in the world.  This sense of belonging can help prevent children from seeking acceptance in other places such as cults or gangs.

They also tend to be more forthright, whereas an anxious mother will sugar coat her words in order to protect her precious child’s self esteem – grandparents may be more straight forward and children respond well to direct, honest communication.  Grandparents can be very huggable too which goes a long way to counter-balancing any hard feelings from some honest feedback over the quality of a child’s homework.  The extra treats and ‘don’t tell your mum but….’ all do wonders to make grandparents heroes in the eyes of their young grandchildren and a child can never have too many grown-ups who love them unconditionally.


What role do grandparents play in your child’s life?


Dr Amanda Gummer is featured in The Sunday Times (please note, it’s a pay to view site) today, talking about grandparents and their evolving roles within the lives of their grandchildren.  Here, she writes more about the very special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, along with the benefits that having hands on grandparents can bring to a grandchild’s life.



Other articles you may find interesting:

Identity development in children

Role play and social development

Moving house

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This post was written by Fundamentally Children

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