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Gary GillesGary Gilles, LCPC
Empowering and practical insights to grow your most important relationships

Teach Healthy Living to Your Grandchildren

Gary Gilles, LCPC Updated: Dec 12th 2014

grandparents reading with young girlWant to leave a lasting legacy that will benefit your grandchildren their entire lives? Teach them healthy habits. Better yet, show them how to practice healthy living through your example. The best time to start these lessons is when your grandchildren are young, before bad habits take root. Here are some creative ways to get your grandchild on the right track:


  • Invite your grandchild to shop with you. Point out your favorite fruits and vegetables. Encourage them to choose a vegetable that you can prepare together. Kids are more likely to eat what they help prepare.
  • Invite them to help you cook a simple meal. Show them a favorite recipe and let them be part of the process from beginning to end. Many children grow up believing that real food comes in packages.
  • Serve child-sized portions and don't force your grandchild to clean his or her plate. Large portions encourage overeating.
  • Encourage clean-up as part of the eating process. Make it fun by telling stories or listening to music while you wash, dry and put things away.

Physical activity

  • Take a walk, bicycle or play ball with your grandchild. Children love when adults are active with them.
  • Give gifts that encourage activity, such as a Frisbee, balls or sporting equipment.

Dental Care

  • Encourage grandchildren to brush after each meal.
  • Show older children how to floss their teeth and explain its importance.
  • Steer your grandchildren away from sugar-laden drinks that add calories and promote tooth decay.


  • Instruct on proper hand washing. Scrub with soap and water for at least 10 seconds and then rinse and dry. It might sound too simple, but infectious disease is rampant, even in hospitals where infectious disease prevention is constantly encouraged.


  • Teach your grandchildren simple manners such as saying "please" and "thank-you." Or when inadvertently bumping into someone saying, "Excuse me." Again, this sounds old-fashioned but common courtesies are increasingly left out of family dynamics these days. For some children the grandparents are the only ones who will regularly teach these manners. Be sure to model these courtesies in both the way you interact with others and with your grandchildren.
  • Grandparents can help their grandkids to learn the forgotten art of writing thank you notes to others. In an age where technology often triumphs over the personal touch, a personal, handwritten note can be a tender way to show genuine gratitude.
  • You can also emphasize good manners when you require your grandchildren to put their cell phone away when at the dinner table.


  • One of the most rewarding things you can do with your grandchildren is read to them. This will not only improve their cognitive and language skills but it will instill in them a love for reading and stimulate their imagination. Reading aloud to children has also been shown to improve reading comprehension.


  • Grandparents often have the ability to exert a deep influence on their grandchildren's values. Take opportunities to teach your grandkids about respecting other people by listening and responding appropriately. Help them understand the value of honesty, integrity and having a willingness to help others in need.

Unfortunately many grandparents don't feel as though they have much influence in their grandchild's life. They believe that their grandchildren are more interested in technology than in the things mentioned above. But, push onward because the things you have to share are life lessons that they may not learn anywhere else. Which means, if you don't teach them, who will?


Gary Gilles, LCPC

Gary Gilles is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in private practice for over 20 years. He is passionate about helping people live empowered, healthy lives. He works from the idea that we feel most contented and in control of our lives when we take action on what we value most. This typically involves choices around relationships and personal habits. He uses his expertise as a change agent in his counseling practice, his blog and his books to help people get their lives back on track. Gary's hundreds of published articles have appeared in a wide range of print and online publications. He currently publishes a popular blog entitled Relationship Matters at His books are available at You can contact Gary at:

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