Dear Grandparenting: Grandparents like to boast about their grandchildren whenever they get together. It’s a big game of Can You Top This? Someone starts off talking about what a smart grandson they have. Next thing you know, someone else tries to top that by bragging about their genius granddaughter.
We never had any academic superstars in our family. My grandchildren are blessed with common sense but don’t shine in class. My oldest grandchild didn’t score real well on tests that show if he’s ready for college. Does he have any chance to make it or is this something like the kiss of death? Bucky Jackson, Charlotte, North Carolina
Dear Bucky: Academically gifted high school students are not necessarily the runaway winners in life, as anyone who ever attended their high school reunion can tell you.
Some kids peak in high school, but many that excel early on cannot cope with adversity when the going gets tough. Tests can measure academic aptitudes, but they cannot take the measure of a grandchild’s heart, drive or intestinal fortitude. Motivation is the master aptitude. Call it what you will — resilience, character, guts, a willingness to pay the price — but these qualities are the best predictors of a grandchild’s future success.
Can grandparents nurture motivation? You bet, according to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
The trick is to engage grandchildren in activities that provide them with intrinsic rewards; i.e., activities of the child’s choosing that pleases him, thus generating sustained effort, satisfaction and confidence.
The activity must be challenging enough to keep the child interested, but not so difficult as to overwhelm him. Grandchildren with intrinsic motivation don’t need grandparents hovering over them. If not, they are more inclined to complain and compete for attention. For a fuller explanation, visit NASP’s web site (www.nasponline.org) and do a search re: childhood motivation.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Ivan Marty, of Butler, Maryland, reports that “it’s so funny how roles are reversed” when granddaughter Patty, 3, pays him a visit.
“When she’s at home, she is taught to come running when her parents call. At my place, I’m the one who comes running when Patty calls.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.