Gifts for long distance grandchildren can build connection.
This guest post is by Kerry Byrne, PhD., founder of The Long Distance Grandparent.
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When you take the time and spend the money on a gift, you want to get the most out of it in terms of creating moments and memories from a distance.
With a little creativity, you can give a gift to build connections around when you video chat.
Here’s how it works: You’ve talked to the parents, and they’ve shared that your grandchild wants a particular gift.
Let’s say your grandchild wants a play cash register (great gift option by the way!). You search the internet and the shops far and wide for the best cash register for their age.
You find the perfect cash register and send it.
Now, buy one for yourself too, so you can play together on a video chat with your grandchild. A low-cost, secondhand version will do the trick. Or even make one out of a small box.
(Top Tip: If you are together for the gift giving event, wrap yours up too and, low and behold, you have received the same gift! You can play together while you are visiting, and then later when you video chat.)
But we want to make this gift work hard for its money!
After the gift giving frenzy dust settles, invite your grandchild to a video chat where you will play together with the gift.
For example, invite them to go shopping at your house. Set up a small shop with lightweight items you can mail to them afterwards. Ask them to ring up the items on their cash register. Or have them show up on the call with a shopping bag and they collect items for you to ring through your cash register.
This springboard effect can be extended to almost any gift you purchase.
A baby doll: you can take care of your babies together on a video chat. In the coming months, follow-up with clothes for baby doll or a wee bottle.
A dump truck: You can fill your dump trucks up together and unload them. And in the future, you can send them a small packet of dinosaurs or cotton balls to ‘load’ into the truck together. You guessed it, buy a small packet for yourself too.
Pokémon cards – if you buy yourself some, you can talk about them together and tap into their expertise to better understand them. Collecting the same things your grandchild loves to collect is a great way to bond.
For older grandchildren, perhaps you were asked to pick up a jersey from a sports team or a player they love? Buy yourself one and show up on a video chat wearing it or take a picture of yourself in the jersey and make it into a postcard.
You can just buy a baseball type cap if it’s cheaper than the whole jersey. It’s just about letting them know you are listening and care about what they care about.
This will be the gift that keeps on giving to your relationship with them – something you can play or talk about together.
A gift you can build on in future interactions or mailings you send to them. If you find some cool dinosaur money, you can pop it into the mail to revive the shop game in future.
Play – and a willingness to be playful - is so important to creating trust and nurturing bonds from a distance. Being thoughtful about a gift’s potential for shared play will go a long way towards building the relationship you want with your grands.
Kerry Byrne, PhD, has studied aging and care for 25 years. She is the founder of The Long Distance Grandparent, a mission-driven business helping grandparents build strong bonds with their grandchildren from a distance.