Ask Dr. Gramma Karen: Granddaughter Resists Skyping with Grandmother


My mother wants to Skype once a week with Madison, my six-year-old daughter. However, Madison has started saying she doesn’t want these weekly Skype sessions with Grandma anymore because “it’s not fair to my other grandparents.” I am looking for ideas on how to handle this.

If fairness to the other grandparents were truly the issue for Madison, that would be an easy fix: Skype with them, too. So, perhaps Madison is feeling pressure and/or is bored or uncomfortable with the scheduled Skyping. Regardless, I have three options to suggest.

1: Just do it!
Your situation reminds me of the grandmother who recounts that when she was a child she was always expected to kiss her great-grandmother, who, alas, had bristly whiskers that made kissing her unpleasant. When she told her mother she didn’t want to kiss her great-grandmother anymore, her mother said, “If Nunna wants a kiss, you will give her a kiss.” And that was that.

You could use this same kind of dictum. You could say, “If Grandma wants to Skype with you every Thursday night at 7 p.m., then that’s what you’ll do.” The potential problem with this approach is that your daughter could feel resentment and become a sulky participant in something that you want to be fun for both Madison and her grandmother.

2: Make connecting on Skype more fun.
If “just do it” feels a bit too authoritarian, a simple option may be for your mom to punch up the Skyping sessions, that is, make them more varied and engaging. For example, one grandmother suggests dressing in a costume for the calls, or reading a book “together”, such as Sneezy Louise, where Madison would fill in the achoos in the appropriate places.

Another grandmother has compiled a list of 17 suggestions – many of which may be more appropriate for children younger than Madison, but some may be of interest – for example, Madison works on an art project and talks about what she’s doing, e.g., why she’s using certain colors or materials.

3: Do online games and activities together.
However, just sprucing up the current Skyping sessions – in effect, just doing more of the same with some pizazz – may not satisfy Madison, so I want to suggest you change the focus from Skyping with Grandma to staying connected with Grandma. To get this shift underway, you might ask Madison why she thinks Grandma wants to Skype with her. She will probably say something along the lines of, “Because Grandma loves me.” You might respond: “I think you’re right. Because Grandma loves you, she is interested in you and what you’re doing. Skyping is a way for her to be in touch with you, be a part of your life.”

This might be an opportunity to interject some empathy: “How do you think Grandma will feel if she can’t be in touch with you?” Madison will probably say that Grandma will be sad.

You continue: “So, we’re in agreement that Grandma wants to be in touch with you because she loves you and wants to know what’s going on in your life. I have some ideas for other ways that you and Grandma might stay in touch with each other that might be fun for both of you. Do you want me to tell you some of the things I’ve come up with?”

Assuming Madison is interested – and I would be surprised if she were not – here is a list of various activities I’ve compiled that Madison and Grandma can do together instead of, or in addition to, Skyping. (Madison may have some ideas of her own.)

Grandparenting from a Distance: 20 Activities for Grandparents To Do with Their Grandchildren

Grandoodlez: Comprises a suite of creative activities that can be digitally shared, e.g., draw pictures, create videos (requires a nominal monthly fee)

A Story Before Bed: Adult selects a book from their library and makes a video recording reading it; recording resides on the child’s family computer to be watched anytime (fee required per book or monthly or one-time membership)

Be There Bedtime Stories: Shows the pages of the book being read with adult shown in a box on top of screen reading the story. ($9.99 per book; stored permanently on computer and can be accessed at any time) 163 jokes appropriate to share with kids.
Q: What did the duck say when he bought lipstick?
A: Put it on my bill.
Jokes can be copied and e-mailed, minus the answer. Each joke has a cute picture.

Yahoo! Games: Site contains many multi-player games; some may be too advanced for younger children, but there are many that may be fun and appropriate.

Pogo: A source of free online, multi-player games.

The offers hundreds of online coloring book pages – point and click and the objects fills in – that can be saved and e-mailed. A child and a long-distance adult can work on an identical image and then share them and talk about the colors they’ve selected.

Google Docs allows two or more people to work together on a document, such as creating a story together.

I hope that you, Madison, and Madison’s grandmother find these ideas helpful.


Ask Dr. Gramma Karen is published every other Tuesday.

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Dr. Rancourt’s latest book:
Ask Dr. Gramma Karen, Volume II: Savvy Advice to Soothe Parent-Grandparent Conflicts

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