I’ve been spending every day with grandkids for a month or more, so when it came time to decide on a blog topic, naturally kids were on my mind.
There are two ways that kids and blessings connect:bl
- Kids blessing others, which came up in a previous blog: Kids Can Contribute to Blessing Others
- Others blessing kids. This is the opposite of getting the kids to join in — it’s reaching out to bless the kids. What can we do when kids are the ones who are sick or grieving? Or when kids are on the periphery of a family dealing with something tough?
Blessing the kids will be the topic of today’s blog.
Interview With a Grandson
My 11-year-old grandson is spending some time with me, so I put him in the hot seat and asked for his input. He’s been through some not-so-easy times in his life already, from the day six years ago when he sat on my lap as his precious Papa took his last breath to this summer’s move across the country.
I explained to my grandson that a child’s input could help lots of other kids. The thing is, adults may really care but get confused about the best thing to do for a kid. We can end up doing nothing… and feeling badly about it.
In fact, that’s what this blog is all about.
Today we will find out, based on one child’s experiences with big things in life:
What suggestions can a kid come up with for an adult who really wants to be there for a young person but has no idea what to do?
Without putting too much pressure on him, LOL, I showed him the blog and explained the three areas I like to talk about:
Conversation. Sometimes we could really use someone to listen or to help us understand.
Service. This required some explanation for an 11-year-old who didn’t think anyone needed to join the Army LOL. Basically, service means you want to “do” something, whether playing a game together or cleaning up your room for you.
Gifts. Small things that might be useful, such as on a road trip, or might be meaningful on a hard day.
Kids Value Memories
As we talked, we both stopped regularly to say that every kid is different. However, by the end of our conversation, I remarked that every important contribution in this child’s 11 years of life seemed to circle around one thing:
Hard times in life all have one thing in common: There is a loss to grieve. It might not be a big loss, there might be an even better home or job to make up for the one that you are leaving, but there is still a loss to face, to grieve, and to some extent to let go of.
Turning a loss into a memory, tucking it away, ensuring it will remain safe and sound, a valuable part of your life that you will always appreciate, is an important way that kids can adapt to changes in their lives, even difficult ones. As my grandson shared the things he has valued most when his life has gone upside-down, it was all about creating memories.
Turning a Loss Into a Memory
What are some practical ways an adult can reach out to a child? We may spot some jumping-off points by listening in on the thoughts of a kid.
To an 11-year-old boy, the value of conversation can vary. In his words, It depends on how harsh the situation is. A couple of ideas about heading into a conversation with kids:
- Keeping memories alive. My older grandkids love to hear stories. Even six years later, my grandson says: You showed me about the furniture Papa made, or just knowing stuff he did, that’s cool.
- A reassuring voice. When my grandson was a preschooler, Papa going to the hospital was discussed in about the same tone of voice as Papa going on an errand. I’ve noticed even toddlers respond to a calm voice explaining what will happen next. You may not need to worry about finding the right words to say; the sound of your reassuring voice alone can signal to a child that the situation is under control and all will be well.
Once he understood “service” didn’t mean joining the Army, several themes emerged.
- Distraction can be helpful. Ideas from our interview: Having fun might work, distract kids from sadness for a while. Playing four-square. Games are fun, just in general. Or maybe something they’ve wanted to do for a long time.
- A great experience. Something that stands out will help the child remember the last days spent with someone special or to remember the area he used to live in. My expert says: Spending time with someone you really like, or a special place you like or you’ve wanted to see. When we were moving, it was fun cuz me and my dad got to set off fireworks. Going to the big mall with my aunt and uncle, that was really fun, too.
- Keep close. Plan activities that keep kids nearby, prolonging time spent with the person or place that will be missed. According to a child: Not going away a lot, since you want to be at your old place as long as possible. Appreciating the views in the old place, like the mall or the park, or even feeling the humidity and the mosquitoes.
- Starting new memories. And then maybe learning the views in the new place. Even at 11, my grandson recognized there are new memories to build on the other side of hard times, as well.
A few simple ideas came to mind.
- Car activities can help when a long drive is in the picture, whether making a trip to see some in the hospital or making a big move. It’s another example of distraction. It may only work if given just before leaving, so the child doesn’t forget about it or wonder where it is. Maze book & other puzzle books, snacks like goldfish, for the car. The audiobook was fun. Nothing big, I have my electronics. My sister’s electronics run out of batteries fast, so maybe batteries for some kids?
- A simple reminder of someone or some place. In a situation like when Papa died, an essence of him. Like the rock Papa gave me, he drew a smiley face on it for me — he gave it to me so it’s more special. Or the teddy bear made out of his shirt.
- Cards and notes. I think I will appreciate them more when I’m older. Looking back later, I’ll be glad.
Nope, not from an 11-year-old. But from me, always!
Don’t be afraid to jump in and bless a child in your life.
Even if the whole idea doesn’t quite work out, your blessing is in the gesture, the evidence that you care. Even my grandson mentioned that when he looks back, he now notices things people did for him that he may not have paid attention to at the time.
Blog #15, COMMENT BELOW: Any ideas to add? Stories? Experiences?