I am a hugger. When the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, I missed hugging my grandkids. We know that when seniors and kids connect everyone benefits, so Larry and I got creative with our (safe) socializing. The ideas we came up with like visiting our great-granddaughters with silly signs were necessary during the pandemic, but what’s wonderful is that they’re just as useful for non-pandemic situations too.
Are you a grandparent, aunt, uncle or other older adult who would enjoy connecting with youth? Read on for my ideas for how to Care Well for your favorite youngster.
Invite a few youngsters to go on a hike or a walk with you to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. You could also turn the walk into a game by making it a scavenger hunt. Make a list of objects that one might find on your walk and then set a time limit and see if she can find the listed objects. Some objects might be: items from nature such as: acorn, pine cone, a bird, or a squirrel. If your walk is in the city or suburbs, choose items such as: a sign with the letter “A”, a red car, or a person wearing a certain type of clothing.
PLAN A SPECIAL SURPRISE
Who doesn’t love a “special delivery?” If you already know the child well, you could plan a special surprise to be mailed or dropped off on their porch. Ideas include: a treat bag filled with healthy snacks, coloring books, craft items like pipe cleaners or Silly Putty. If you need ideas, check out our Getting to Know You Questionnaire. I have used this form with my grandchildren to help get birthday ideas – as well as provide conversation starters for when I chat with them.
CHECK IN OFTEN
Text or email a simple message to your young friend or family member. We all like to see a message from someone we like. Your message can be a one-liner, such as:
- “Thinking of you”
- “Wondering what you are doing today?”
- “I enjoyed talking with you last week.”
- “What are you doing this weekend?”
- “Do you know any good jokes?”
Speaking of jokes – there are many kid-friendly jokes online. Some of my favorites are Third Grade Jokes, 277 Puns for Kids, and Riddles for Teens . Also, remember that today’s youth rarely receives physical mail, so if you have their home address, consider surprising them with a handwritten letter sent by snail mail.
If you are feeling lonely or isolated, chances are there’s a child out there who is feeling that way too. Please consider reaching out. We all benefit – elders and youth alike – when we take the time to connect.