The first step to helping your grandchildren reach their highest potential is simply for you to get to know them better. And the number one way to get to know them is obvious, but some of you may be missing it.school-aged-grandkids

1. Simply ask questions. Go out for a frozen yogurt and ask about her friends at school, and what they like to do together. Always be ready with an interesting question about what they like, their hopes and dreams, or “what would you do if …” kinds of questions.

2. Whenever you can, spend time on your grandchild’s turf. Go to their soccer practice; sit in on a piano lesson; attend their orchestra concerts; go with them to the swimming pool.

When you’re around the grandkids, you probably hear them talk about who’s doing what: who hit a triple at the softball game, who did a flip off the high dive, who played the Chopin piece perfectly. You can enjoy their stories, but it’s even better to be there and see it all, and it helps you be a better grandparent. The more you know about your grandchildren, the more you’ll be able to help them cultivate their unique gifts and talents.

3. Provide them with plenty of opportunities to discover their interests and talents. Chances are, finances are limited and your grandchild might not get to explore some new passion or interest, whether it’s gymnastics or the violin or whatever. Maybe that’s where you can step in and help, assuming her parents approve.

4. Give feedback, especially when it’s praise. You don’t have to be an expert—just tell them you’re proud of their efforts and offer your positive observations. Believe me, coming from you this will be a big encouragement for them.

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5. Listen to your grandchild’s friends, teachers, coaches, and especially their parents. All these people see a side of your grandchild that you don’t, and they’ll give you insights you would have never noticed on your own.

When you get to know your grandkids even better, you’ll gain valuable insights into who they are, how they think, and what motivates them. And you’ll be better prepared to do what’s best for them.