There are many ways that grandparents can influence their grandkids. Showing them the value of a healthy lifestyle through active grandparenting.
The easy part for most grandparents is to spoil, to love unconditionally and to be there for them as much as possible. The harder part is to ensure your other lifestyle choices are something you would be proud for the grandkids to mimic.
My wife and I have always been active, participating in sports, running, hiking, biking, and working out. Our kids pretty much did the same as they grew up because we modeled and encouraged an active lifestyle.
We taught them not only the health benefits of an active lifestyle, but also had a lot of fun as a family doing these activities together. Our son has carried this influence, and has probably even extended it further, with his young boys, and it’s very encouraging to know that our grandsons have that great example and positive influence daily.
When we spend time with our grandchildren, we continue to feed these efforts, keeping the boys active and interested in participating in various activities. They are all quite athletic and full of energy, so I must admit I can’t keep up as much as I would like. But it is extremely comforting to know they love to be active and competitive in every activity they are involved in.
As an example, we have participated in the Pat Tillman Run since its inception. When our grandsons were old enough to run a bit with us, we continued a tradition of doing a shadow run with them when we visited them in Virginia Beach, VA. We sign them up for the run and pick up their bib numbers, T-shirts and sport bags. That way, on our next visit, we all do our shadow run with them on the boardwalk at the beach, or at the track at the local school.
The experience brings so much more than fitness and sport. We have the opportunity to teach them to appreciate and recognize an American hero like Pat Tillman. Their Dad is their real military hero, but Pat is a good example and role model for all young boys.
Make it Fun
Of course, this type of activity is not always and option. We often opt for simpler activities that I would recommend any active grandparents do with their grandkids. Any activities that associate time and fun with the grandparents will reap long-term rewards.
- Take a walk in the park
- Go on a hike
- Play catch with a baseball or football
- Shoot some hoops
- Go on a bike ride
- Go to the local school playground
Don’t Get Lost in Distractions
The truth is, there are so many distractions for children today that we never experienced. Our time outside mandated creativity, communication, responsibility and conflict resolution.
The more outside activity we can encourage for our grandkids, the more we can influence their lifestyle choices. We help them experience activities that you can’t learn from video games, cell phones or iPad’s. I’m sure there is some reluctance to look back at the “good old days” and claim how much better things were, and how great things were for us growing up. But that’s not my intent here.
I simply want to capture the benefits of what we did experience, how it shaped and molded us, and how we became who we are. There are a lot of things that technology provides today that could have been a great help to us if they were available. But there are also so many things we didn’t have, or had to create on our own. These things are missed in the new age of technological distractions.
Teaching Life Skills
Being successful in life includes many of the benefits enjoyed with an active lifestyle: creativity, communication, responsibility and conflict resolution.
Playing outside, being involved in team or individual sports, exploring nature or simply taking walks together provide the opportunity to develop critical life skills that will benefit your grandchildren for a lifetime.
I would encourage you to foster a healthy lifestyle, share it, and let them see you live it because they will see much more than you ever considered.