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Grandparenting Principles Issue 1 2 3 4 5

Teaching Grandchildren How to Protect Themselves

As a grandparent, you aren’t with your grandchildren 24/7. That’s why it’s important when you are with them to help them develop the ability to protect themselves when you, their parents or other adults are not around.

One of the greatest threats your grandchild will face is peer pressure to engage in negative or harmful behaviors (doing something dangerous, taking drugs, cheating, engaging in criminal behavior, etc.). One fundamental way to reduce the influence peer pressure can have on children is to help them develop a positive moral foundation early on so they intuitively know what is right and what is wrong. You can accomplish this by teaching social skills and modeling positive moral behaviors for your grandchild. Then, you may want to reinforce this teaching/modeling with spiritual or religious instruction.

In addition to negative peer pressure, your grandchildren will experience societal pressures to achieve positive goals — getting straight “A’s,” making the sports team, scoring high in a music competition or getting into a good college, for instance. You can help empower your grandchild by teaching coping skills that will help him/her effectively deal with stressful, pressure-filled situations. You should also try to maintain a strong, supportive relationship with your grandchild by talking often and keeping the lines of honest communication open.

Children can be incredibly resilient, but they can also be quite vulnerable at times. They look to their parents and grandparents for cues about how to handle potentially dangerous situations. This is why it is so important for adults to model positive behaviors for them.

Teaching Activity

Practice Resisting Peer Pressure

This is a role-play activity for you and your grandchild. Think of several scenarios in which your grandchild might be pressured into engaging in negative behaviors. Then, act out a scenario where you and your grandchild play specific roles. For instance, you could play an older child who is trying to get your grandchild to smoke marijuana. Or, you could pretend to be a younger child encouraging your grandchild to try something dangerous. Before beginning the role-play, go over the steps of the social skill, “Resisting Peer Pressure”:

  1. Look at the person.
  2. Use a calm, assertive voice tone.
  3. State clearly that you do not want to engage in the inappropriate activity.
  4. Suggest an alternative activity. Give a reason.
  5. If the person persists, continue to say “No.”
  6. If the peer will not accept your answer, ask him/her to leave, or remove yourself from the situation.

Parenting Strategy

Preventive Teaching

To help your grandchild resist negative peer pressure and avoid other potentially dangerous situations, you must preventively teach social skills he/she can use. Teaching these skills ahead of time, and modeling them yourself, prepares your grandchild to do the right thing when real-life situations occur.

Social Skills for Younger Children
Social Skills for Older Children

Here are ​the steps for using preventive teaching to teach skills:

  1. Describe the desired behavior (skill).
  2. Give a reason for using the behavior (skill).
  3. Practice.

Coming up in Issue 3

Preparing Children for Real-Life Situations


Practicing SODAS


Corrective ​Teaching

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