Grandparents hold many different roles in a child’s life. Some grandparents may be a child’s main carer, others will help with childcare, and some will have occasional contact. Hopefully, there is something here for everyone.
1. You matter. Your loving connection with your grandchild helps them know they are worthy of love.
2. Unconditional love. Grandparenting and parenting can be tough, but by showing unconditional love you create safety and trust.
3. Listening. You do not have to have all the answers. Just being there to listen to your grandchild’s worries, questions, joys, and concerns makes an enormous difference.
4. Sharing a different perspective. You can help your grandchild work through different ideas and solutions to a challenge.
5. Giving time out. You can take your grandchild’s mind off worries and concerns by going for a walk, playing a game, or watching a film together.
6. Looking out for them. If your grandchild’s behaviour has changed, they seem unusually, withdrawn, or sad, or on the other hand they seem particularly angry or aggressive they may be going through a bullying situation. Find a quiet space to ask if there is anything on their mind.
7. Sharing your experiences. Share stories of your own time at school and your friendships over the years. Help your grandchild understand there will be highs and lows, and that there is a way through any challenge.
8. Learning to manage conflict. We do not always get on with everyone. You can talk to your grandchild about staying calm, knowing when to walk away, understanding we all like different things, and using a calm, assertive voice to manage tricky situations.
9. Showing kindness to others. Share stories of when people have been kind to you. Participate in acts of kindness with your grandchild. You could bake a cake together and give to a neighbour, buy a homeless person a drink, or help a friend out with some shopping, gardening, or another job around the home.
10. Sharing your history. We all have a story to tell, and your history and the history of your ancestors can help children gain a greater appreciation and understanding of who they are. This is particularly important for children who feel different from others, or in the minority in their school or community.
11. Helping your grandchild be body confident. Appearance-related bullying is the most common form of bullying. Make sure you talk kindly about your own looks and show your grandchild you are proud in your skin. Help them think about all the amazing things their body can do, rather than what they look like.
12. Showing an interest in their lives. You will sometimes only get one-word answers (!) but consistently showing an interest in your grandchild’s life means they feel connected to you and may open up if they need help.
13. Being mindful of how you talk about others. Children follow our lead and as much as other family members, neighbours and friends might be causing us stress, how we talk about other people impacts the children in our lives.
14. Understanding not all children will fight back. Some children are more passive in their behaviour and find it hard to stand up for themselves. Your grandchild may find it helpful to attend a free Kidscape ZAP workshop to learn assertiveness and resilience skills.
15. Accepting all children are different. You may find your grandchild hard to understand or have an easier relationship with one grandchild than the other. All children are different and have something to teach us.
16. Being open to things you do not understand. Every generation has its own views, thoughts, and trends. Try to understand your grandchild’s perspective and be open to changing your mind or looking at things in a different way.
17. Asking how you can help. Children going through a bullying situation can feel very powerless. Help your grandchild feel empowered by asking how you can help. It may be that they simply need you to listen.
18. Staying calm. It is incredibly challenging when a child you love is going through a bullying situation. Listen to their concerns, reassure them that is it not their fault and that together you will sort it out.
19. Keeping an open mind. Relationships can be challenging. It is natural for children to have friendship fallouts. Remember bullying behaviour is intended to hurt and is repeated. This can help you decide when a situation may be day to day conflict between children, or a bullying situation.
20. Preparing for school meetings. You may need to meet with a teacher to talk about a bullying situation. Take a look at our advice on how to prepare.
21. Understanding mental health. Bullying can have a serious impact on mental health – both in the short and long term. This can include depression and anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. If you have concerns about your grandchild, it is important to seek help. Your child’s GP can give advice, and many schools have their own counselling and/or pastoral support that they can offer.
22. Celebrating difference. People can be different in many ways. Diverse backgrounds, cultures, experiences of wealth or poverty, education, faith, life experiences like divorce or bereavement, disability or additional needs, sexuality and gender or growing up in different neighbourhoods. It is endless. Be curious and openminded. Learn about other cultures.
23. Asking your grandchild to share their experiences of bullying. It does not have to be something they have experienced themselves; they may have a story to share about something they have seen happen to others and would welcome your advice.
24. Encouraging self-confidence. Help your grandchild find activities that they enjoy and encourage them to make friends outside of school so they have a wider circle of friends. See the Kidscape #ILoveMe Confidence Campaign.
25. Helping when friendships and relationships come to an end. It’s hard to lose a friend. Help your grandchild understand this is part of life, to be open to new friendships, and to not limit themselves to one best friend.
26. Discouraging sexist or sexual comments. Children experience high levels of sexual harassment within our schools and need the help of adults to understand this is never okay. If they say something in front of you, gently challenge, and explain why they need to stop.
27. Sharing what you love about your grandchild. Try not to overly focus on one thing, celebrate effort not just achievement, and share all the many different things you love about them.
28. Encouraging them to stand up for others. They may not always feel safe to intervene, but they can help lead another child away from a difficult situation, invite them to join in their game or to sit with them, or go with them to get help.
29. Knowing the law when it comes to bullying and harassment. All schools must take action to prevent bullying and harassment. Ask to see a copy of the school anti-bullying policy and do not be afraid to ask questions if your grandchild does not feel safe at school.
30. Having an interest in their friends and relationships. Ask what qualities they look for in a friend and the things they like to do together. Help them understand that a good friend makes you happy, is loyal, and lets you be yourself.
31. Sharing Kidscape top tips for dealing with bullying – for children and for parents and carers. These are available in multiple languages. See our top tips for dealing with bullying.
32. Showing an interest in their online life. Some grandparents spend a lot of time online and feel confident with social media such as Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp, while others will have less experience. It does not matter. Ask your grandchild to show you what they enjoy online and to talk through with you the different ways to stay safe. Sign up for Kidscape online safety training.
33. Accepting bullying is not a sign of weakness. It can be hard for children to share they are experiencing bullying, particularly if they hear messages like ‘you just need to fight back,’ ‘stand up for yourself,’ ‘it’s just part of life.’ If you are being bullied it can have serious, long-term consequences, can happen to anyone, and is never your fault.
34. Sharing books with themes around bullying and relationships. This can be a fantastic way to open up a discussion about bullying, or to share advice if you are not sure what to say. See Kidscape's ‘Help with bullying and relationships’ guide for children and young people.
35. Not accepting bullying in sports clubs. It is important that adults set a good example to children, particularly on the side-lines. Avoid making negative comments about other people’s children and make sure you are encouraging positive play and action, rather than getting angry when things go wrong. See bullying in sports clubs.
36. Helping to prepare for the new school term. Starting school or going back to school can be an anxious time. Kidscape has advice for starting school, from early years through to secondary school.
37. Being aware of disablist bullying. This is when disabled children or children with additional needs are repeatedly targeted by other children. Disabled children experience much higher rates of bullying and this is never acceptable or inevitable. For advice and organisations who can help, see 'Disabled children and bullying'.
38. Understanding schools are all different. While there is a legal duty to prevent bullying and harassment, schools will do this in different ways. A good first step if you have concerns is to ask for the school anti-bullying policy. See our advice on talking to schools about bullying.
39. Helping to manage emotions. Help children recognise and name their emotions and find positive ways to manage them. This could include talking about anything that is on their mind, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, spending time with friends and family doing things they enjoy, exercising every day, and learning relaxation techniques such as guided breathing and meditation.
40. Supporting autistic children to communicate their experiences. If your grandchild is autistic, has other additional needs, or would appreciate a range of ways to communicate a bullying situation, Kidscape has developed different tools they can use. See 'Autistic children and bullying.'
41. Knowing when to intervene. If your grandchild has been seriously harmed or is at risk of harm, then you must get help. This could be physical harm, sexual harm, they may be receiving threats, or others may be encouraging them to self-harm. This could be an adult or another child. If they are at immediate risk dial 999. Otherwise, contact the children’s services team at your local council.
42. Understanding personal boundaries. Talk to your grandchild about what it means to have boundaries – whether emotional or physical. Chat through what you can do if someone is in your personal space, and it makes you feel uncomfortable. Talk about the importance of being mindful of our own physical contact with others; for example, of not assuming that someone wants a hug. For younger children it is important they learn to be gentle in their play with others, and accepting that not everyone enjoys ‘play fighting’ or games with physical contact.
43. Signposting to help. There may be times when your grandchild does not feel able to share with you or a parent or carer what is happening. Let them know about Childline.
44. Limiting time online. It’s good to encourage children to take a break from their phones and devices. If you are caring for your grandchildren overnight, discourage them from taking phones to bed.
45. Standing up to racism. Encourage your grandchild to welcome friendships with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. If your grandchild is experiencing racism, get help. See 'Racist bullying.'
46. Recording bullying incidents. If your grandchild is experiencing bullying it is important to keep a log of incidents. They may find it useful to use the Kidscape log and school contact record.
47. Considering different ways to communicate. Some children may find face-to-face conversations challenging but will enjoy going for a walk, participating in an activity they enjoy, or receiving a text to let them know you are thinking of them.
48. Dealing with homophobic bullying. Some children may be bullied for their sexuality or gender – whether actual or perceived. This is never okay. There are lots of charities that can support and give advice, such as Education Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH).
49. Telling other people about Kidscape. Let friends and families know that Kidscape can help if a child is going through a bullying situation.
50. Staying in touch. We hope you have found this advice helpful. Please visit www.kidscape.org.uk to donate, sign up for our newsletter, or find details of our advice line service if you have concerns about a child.