by Dr. Ken Canfield

You’ve probably heard about teachable moments. For quite some time, educators and parenting experts have suggested that one of the best times for kids to learn is during or right after some meaningful experience.

I’m assuming here that you do see yourself as a key teacher for your grandchild. You have wisdom and stories and lessons to share; it’s one of the key aspects of your role.

One challenge with the teachable moments idea is that we can’t really predict when those “meaningful” times will happen, and we don’t always know what will be memorable for a grandchild.

So I suggest actively looking for those opportunities.

We’re spending time with a grandchild, something out-of-the-ordinary happens, and we recognize it as a chance to share a bit of wisdom with him or her. Maybe there’s a similar experience you had earlier in life, and you can briefly tell that story and what you learned from it.

These moments happen all the time, if we’re looking for them. Maybe someone is rude to you at a restaurant. Maybe someone goes out of their way to help you at the grocery store. You get cut off in traffic. You receive too much change by mistake. The everyday life possibilities are practically infinite.

The key is to recognize those moments and make use of them for your grandchild’s benefit.

For example, we might say, “You know, that guy didn’t treat us very well back there. He must be having a bad day. There’s a lot going on in his life that we don’t know about.” Maybe you could even say a quick prayer for him.

Or in another situation, you might say, “That young woman made a mistake when I paid the bill. She gave me too much money. Let’s go back inside and return the money because it isn’t mine.”

Some teachable moments aren’t quite as obvious, but if you’re looking for them, you’ll notice them. You’ll be surprised by how you can use all kinds of things that happen around you.

Of course, we don’t want to always be teaching, where each outing with a grandchild includes for or five lectures or life lessons. We don’t want to be heavy-handed or long-winded with this. But it does make sense to be diligent in helping to shape their character and offer guidance that could benefit them in the future.

Ideally, your grandchildren’s parents are being diligent in teaching spiritual truths, values, and moral insights. Our role as grandparents should be to support them in those efforts.

When have you taken advantage of a teachable moment with a grandchild? Share what works so other grandparents can benefit … at our Facebook page.

This was adapted from Dr. Ken Canfield’s book, The HEART of Grandparenting. Find out more and get your copy here.