Saturday, 7 November 2015

How we teach our children to be with elderly people

Inspired by the recent release of the John Lewis Christmas advert "The man on the moon" I started to think about my sons relationship with elderly people that we know and those that are part of my family.

Part of bringing up a child is teaching them to adapt to different scenarios and I believe that this is an important development that they need help with.

I remember being a young child sitting around the dinner table with my large family. My Great Grandad was always there. I loved him and cared that he was well and happy but, I struggled to know how to interact with him. Often the only interaction was if I needed to help with something or if he had started to speak to me. I found myself nervous of saying the wrong thing, upsetting or even hurting him. He was an amazing man and I loved being in his company but there was something that did make me hesitant.

With my Grandparents, I have grown as they have grown and therefore it has been a natural progression of learning to cope with illness, changes in living and what is able to be done as they grow older. I feel very comfortable helping my Grandma, being with her. I thoroughly enjoy her company and we often have moments of hilarity.

Just because I have this type of relationship with my Grandma, It does not mean that my son does.
When you are a small child I believe elderly people can be a little intimidating. Not through any aggression or malice but because they can often be loud due to hearing problems. They can often step across the boundaries of personal space without meaning to. Due to this, I believe that we need to teach and help our children to understand this and give them the tools to deal with it and build up their own relationships.

I have been quite hard on my son at times when he has not wanted to give his Great Grandma a hug, or does not answer her questions clearly or straight away. I have seen this as being disrespectful to a person that cares and loves him. Maybe I need to re-think this?

Tor has an amazing relationship with his Great Grandma. He will sit and read with her. They play funny jokes. They discuss words and meanings.
When Tor returned from his holiday in Namibia we visited Great Grandma and he patiently showed her every photograph and spoke about them. It was at this moment that I realised that he did understand, he had adapted himself to her needs and because he was able to do this he shared a very intimate and special time with her.

So, I have learnt that I need to guide Tor with his relationships with older people. I need to be aware of things that might intimidate him but still ensuring that he maintains a level of respect and care.

I suppose in lots of ways this should be the way for all relationships in life.

So, whatever you think of the new Christmas advert, it does give you reason to think even if it is not in the way the advert was intended for.

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  1. Great post. Teaching our children how to interact with all different kinds of people is something we have to model. If we do make the effort, then it's more likely that they will too. Looks like you're doing a great job.

  2. Thank you so much for your lovely comment
    Take care ~ Torsmum


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