Preschoolers are energetic, excitable, often challenging, and full of wonder and willfulness. Each one is unique, and yet there are some general principles that will aid us as we try to bond with them and do our part to help shape them into responsible adults … someday.

If your grandchild has been around a few years now, it might seem like his birth is ancient history now, but there’s still so much that’s new and unfamiliar for him, and so much still to learn. It takes a while to figure out this human life thing and learn to talk, use the bathroom, figure out boundaries at home, get along with parents and siblings and friends, and thousands of other skills.

He’s still growing rapidly, with seemingly boundless energy to run, race, wrestle, play games, swing, slide, sing songs, tell stories, ask questions, ask more questions, and on and on. He will keep you on the verge of wonder and help you feel young again.

And as he grows in his ability to communicate, it only gets more rewarding. Now he can understand and use words rather than forcing you to interpret various sounds and gestures. You can say, “I love you” and be confident that your granddaughter knows what you mean. You can ask your grandson, “What do you want to do this afternoon?” and his answer will guide you toward something that will make him happy.

A lot of these activities are opportunities to spend time together and get to know each other more and more. You’ll make fantastic memories together!

You probably experienced a lot of this when your own children were preschool-age, but with the passage of time we all need reminders. There are so many great ways to invest in young grandchildren. Here are 3 pieces of wisdom to consider as you do so:

Be ready: young grandkids will really test your stamina.

Since you aren’t really young again, you may find that active grandkids will wear you out. You’re probably not used to their non-stop energy and full schedule. Relating to grandkids at this age can be so rewarding, especially if you get to enjoy them for a while and then send them home until next time.

Maybe you’re in a situation where you’re caring for one or more grandkids most of the day several times a week—or even living with them full-time. That can be stressful and exhausting, and grandparents who step into those roles are making important investments in their grandkids. But if that kind of commitment isn’t needed or isn’t possible in your situation, that’s okay too. You need some “me” time for self-care so you can be your best when you are with your grands.

Establish positive patterns.

It will probably be a little bit different for each of us, depending on the specifics of the situation. But we should do all we can to have a consistent and positive presence in our grandkids’ lives—in ways that also work for their parents, of course.

This consistency can mean seeing and spending time with the grandkids on a regular basis—even if it’s on the phone or Facetime if you live far away. It’s also important to be reliable in how you relate to them. Are you optimistic and easy-going, or outgoing and fun one time and moody the next?

As the patriarch or matriarch of the family, you can help create stability in their lives. They know what to expect from you. They can depend on you anytime. They may not understand all of that right away as preschoolers, but they can get a strong taste that will get stronger as they grow, and it may really blossom in their teen and young adult years. Building that trust starts even when they’re young.

Demonstrate gentleness.

Maybe your grandkids have parents who give them lots of love and encouragement, but in today’s world the chances are good that they will experience some level of drama at home. And maybe you’re the best person to demonstrate healthy emotions for them.

Maturity doesn’t always come with age, but your years of experience have probably given you a perspective on life that helps you stay calm, not worry about circumstances, and make the most of your time with your precious grandchild. You aren’t too busy to give her your undivided attention, to listen well and get excited about what she tells you. Maybe she needs that from you.

Your relationship with your grandchild can have an atmosphere of gentleness, comfort and acceptance even during times when you need to be assertive with her—like firmly asking her to apologize to her sibling or challenging her to improve her attitude about something. Just keep letting your love and concern shine through and it will much more likely come across as gentleness to your grandchild.

What would you add? How do you bond with and invest in your preschool grandchild? Share your insights and get ideas from other grandparents on our Facebook page.