by Dr. Ken Canfield

If you’re anything like me, you can’t get enough of your grandkids, and you’re looking for more ways to stay in contact, build them up, and let them know you love them. This week I’m sharing one great idea for how to do that, and the idea comes from a father and daughter, but it’s a natural for grandparents and grandkids too. 

One summer, Chris took a trip with his daughter’s youth group to work on houses in a blighted rural area. Now Chris, being a bottom-line, results-oriented businessman, was eager to get in there, swing a hammer, repair some walls and get as much done as possible in the time they were there.

But before they started, the director from the mission organization gathered everyone for a meeting. He had a bulletin board with envelopes attached to it, one for each team member, and he explained that they would be giving “encouragrams” to one another for the whole week they were there. He explained that “encouragrams” are short messages of encouragement. Each day the first order of business was to write a short, positive note to another team member.

This was just about the last thing Chris wanted to do. What does this have to do with building houses? he thought. About an hour later, he went to his envelope and found this message: “Thanks for coming along on the trip. I love you and am glad you’re here.” It was signed by his daughter, Erika.

As you can imagine, Chris was hooked. Over the next seven days, he wrote many notes to his daughter and the other teens on the trip, and he received many himself. It was an eye-opening reminder of the dynamic impact of encouraging words, and after that week he committed himself to using encouragrams regularly at home with his wife and other children.

All kids need encouragement, and as a grandparent, maybe one of your main goals can be to fill up your grandkids’ emotional tanks with as much encouragement as they can hold.

You never know, you might start a trend that spreads to your grandkids’ parents and the whole family. Surely many families can use more positive words and encouragement, and it can start with you!

Today’s technology makes it even easier. Maybe you can text your encouragrams, send them by email or mail, or write them on a marker board when the grandkids visit. Just notice something positive about them and their character and send a quick blessing that’s clear and specific. Then make a commitment to keep it up through the coming weeks and months.

I think you’ll be surprised at what a difference it can make in your grandchild and in your relationship with him or her.

Are you already doing something similar? Share your ideas with other grandparents on our Facebook page.

Read more from Dr. Ken in his book, The HEART of Grandparenting. Find out more and get your copy here.