connection with a grandchild
Adobe Stock

Missing that connection with a grandchild? 5 ways to approach your relationship differently

Connection with a grandchild is as unique as the child themselves.

Each one of your children came into the world with their own personality. Their own likes, dislikes, quirks, and preferences. If you’re a nana, that’s true for your grandkids too. Because of their differences, you may find it easier to connect with some grandchild over others. That’s not a bad thing.

Clinical social worker Ginger Healy shared how, though you love them the same, you may need to approach your relationship with them differently.


“Everyone’s different. It could be age or stage of development. It could be that they’ve had something in the past or currently that they’re dealing with that has caused them to put up some walls and go into self-protection mode, making them a little harder to reach,” Ginger said.

Building Trust

Ginger emphasized the importance of trust in these relationships. “I always want you to start on building that trust, creating this emotionally safe environment. If you can be honest and open and respectful and admit your own mistakes, that gives them permission to let their guard down and trust you.”

Emotions are Contagious

Ginger pointed out that emotions are contagious. She explained, “We have these neurons in our brain called mirror neurons and they reflect. If you are stressed, feeling negative, dysregulated, the person next to you can catch that. If you can be regulated, calm, and steady, your grandkids can borrow your calm.”

Get Curious

Ginger advised grandparents to, “get curious, put on your detective hat and notice. Observe what haven’t you noticed about this kid before. What lights them up? What are their likes and their dislikes? What makes them feel comfortable?”

The Power of Presence

Ginger suggested that, “just your warmth and presence can be enough. They don’t necessarily need to open up and tell you everything. You just being there allows them to feel love from you.”

Have Fun

Finally, Ginger reminded us that we should always be having fun. “It shouldn’t be like a reward. It should be a given. It makes the nervous system feel safe, so then they can be vulnerable and open up and the connection can happen.”

Ginger said, “It all really comes down to seeing our grandchildren and having empathy for their struggles. Who really are they? Sometimes we think that what they’re dealing with might just be a first world problem, but to them it’s not. So, honoring that, believing them, knowing that this is hard for them, having empathy for that and being attuned to who they really are and what their needs are.”

For more advice and inspiration, you can find Ginger on Instagram at @gingerhealylcsw.

Add comment