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5 Positive Character Traits To Instill in Your Grandchildren

Making biscuits with her three-year-old granddaughter helped her to teach patience, perseverance, perspective and more.

A grandmother receives a kiss from her granddaughter.

My granddaughter Zoë stood on the stool next to me, a biscuit cutter clinched tightly in her tiny hands. She bounced with anticipation. At three years old, she already enjoyed helping me cook. I turned her way and smiled; white flour had sprinkled across her cheeks.

“Now, Nona?” She held the cutter over her head.

“Not yet,” I cautioned as I patted the round dough flat. I did own a rolling pin, but when I was young and recently married, I  couldn’t afford one, so I judged the thickness of the dough by patting it. Since then— and several rolling pins later— I still preferred to pat out the dough. I pointed to the area closest to Zoë. “You pat this section,” I said.

She tapped the dough several times. “Now?”

I chuckled. “Okay.” I helped guide her to the outside of the circle and allowed her to push down. She twisted the cutter to loosen the dough then lifted it free. “I want this one,” she said.

I placed the biscuit on the corner of the pan. “Remember where we place it,” I said.

She nodded. “I want to make more.”

As we continued to work with the dough, I told Zoë the story I’d shared with her several times before of how I learned to make biscuits from my grandmother. I still used the exact cutter Zoë was currently using. That small kitchen gadget, with a faded red nob, had been used to make biscuits through five generations: from my grandmother, to my mom, to me, my kids (including Zoë’s dad), and now Zoë.

This season in my life as a grandmother—aka Nona—is one full of joy and responsibility. Having had the privilege of raising four kids to adulthood, I now have an opportunity to pour my love and hard-earned life lessons into the lives of our grandchildren.

How am I doing that? With intentionality and with a firm focus on these five life skills: purpose, preparation, patience, perseverance, and perspective. All of which I’ve showed Zoë through making biscuits.

Whether big or small, I want our grandkids to think through why they are doing an activity. When I asked Zoë why we were making biscuits, she replied, “Because they’re yummy!” That’s a pretty good answer, especially coming from a three-year-old. But as she grows up, I want to continue asking her the why behind activities she chooses to participate in.

Teaching our grandchildren to be purposeful with decisions they make will help in developing critical thinking.

As a three-year-old, Zoë does not like preparing for an activity; she wants to get right to the fun part! Getting the bowl and pan, gathering ingredients, and preheating the oven are all about preparation. I’d ask her throughout this process, “What if we forget…” I’d name a step or ingredient to leave out, then ask, “Would the biscuits be good if we did that?”

Zoe would giggle and answered with a drawn out, “Noooo.”

Teaching our grandkids the importance of being prepared can help them learn to follow directions well.

With the biscuits on the pan, I placed them in the oven. I set a timer, but every few minutes Zoë wants to open the oven for a sneek peak. “Remember, we have a timer set and we have to be…?”

She’d huff. “Patient.”

Teaching our grandkids that there are some things worth waiting for is a skill that will greatly benefit them throughout their lives.

The first time Zoë made biscuits with me, she struggled. Almost as much flour ended up on her as in the bowl. When she tried to get the dough to release from the cutter, some biscuits folded in half or some would lose their round shape and flop onto the pan in an unrecognizable mound. “I can’t do this, Nona,” she wailed.

“You just need a little more practice.” We worked together and she ultimately persevered.

Teaching our grandchildren to persevere builds endurance and confidence.

Making biscuits with Zoë gives me opportunities to share family stories, tell her about our culture and our values. All of which will influence her perspective on life.

What a valuable gift we give to our grandchildren when we share who we are and what is important to our family.

With the meal set on the table—including the biscuits—Zoë announced, “I helped make the biscuits, but the best one is here.” She pointed to her plate. “I made it.”

Purpose, preparation, patience, perseverance, and perspective. Being close to the grandkids makes these traits easier to pass on, but with a little creativity and effort, grandparents who live far away can also find ways to teach these valuable skills.

Butter dripped down Zoë’s chin after she took her first bite. With a full mouth she said, “Nona can we make biscuits again one day?”

I smiled. “Absolutely, sweet girl.”

Who knows, maybe one day our grandkids will impart these same tips to their grandchildren.

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