For some people, being an aunt or uncle is among the greatest experiences in life. Below, we’ll discuss why and we’ll provide 10 tips that can help you become the cool aunt or uncle that kids will want to spend time with.
Why Be the Cool Aunt or Uncle?
Aunts and uncles often like the youthful energy their nieces or nephews provide. Some of them want to act like a parent figure to that youthful energy. Others want to actually be part of that youthful energy by acting as a friend to their niece or nephew, not a superior.
That is not to say that cool aunts and uncles need to be immature. Quite the opposite, in fact, being mature when you need to be is a key part of the role. But they need to be able to get in touch with their inner kid and avoid taking on the role of just another patronizing adult trying to govern the kid’s life.
Some people enjoy being friends with their niece or nephew. It allows them to recapture some of their youth and bond with their family member on a level they cannot if they remain on the outside looking in.
10 Tips to be the Cool Aunt or Uncle
Express Interest in Their Hobbies
Show you want to know more about what they like. And when they tell you, listen inquisitively and respectfully as a friend would do instead of merely listening out of politeness like many adults do with kids.
Be a Break
Like we mentioned, kids are used to the adults in their lives, treating them like lessers by telling them what to do and where to go. Give them a break from that “them vs. us” mentality by asking them what they think is important, and letting that shape what you do together.
Love Your Work
Remember that you’re still an adult, and try to be the one that your niece or nephew wants to grow into. That entails finding a job you love and expressing your professional passion when you’re around them in a relatable way.
Make Time for Family
Even though you should love work, you need to make undivided time for your niece/nephew and their loved ones. It’s not ideal to completely ignore the family until the one weekend per quarter when they stay at your house, even if you guys have a great time during that weekend.
Do Interesting Things
Kids remember doing things more than receiving gifts. Some people think they can be the cool aunt or uncle simply by opening their wallets every time they see the kid and dishing out for expensive gifts, but that’s totally incorrect. Go to sporting events, museums, theater productions, zoos, theme parks… anything you can both enjoy. It’ll be a lot cheaper than constantly buying presents, too.
Kids aren’t huge fans of rules. When you’re with your niece or nephew, don’t impose too many rules, and don’t be a stickler when it comes to following the rules set out by others. Don’t be reckless and disregard the important rules, but remember to be a free spirit.
Stay up to date with cultural events and popular terminology that people the age of your niece or nephew care about using social media like Reddit and Instagram. But, for the love of God, don’t try to shoehorn it into conversations. If you do, it sounds incredibly awkward. Instead, just be prepared for if (and when) these subjects come up naturally.
Get Gift-Giving Help from Other Kids
A staple of being the cool aunt or uncle is giving sweet gifts at birthdays and Christmases. If you’re just learning, though, asking your friend’s children to pick out the gift you will buy is a great tactic. It lets you learn more about what people that age are into.
Don’t Sit Out
Let’s say you take your young niece or nephew to the playground, and they decide to play on the jungle gym. You should join them! Playing with them instead of just being an observer is a great bonding opportunity.
If you want to get advanced with this tactic, you can even stir up a little playful mischief by stealing their shoes or putting a handful of grass down their shirt like a friend might do.
Get In Early
People’s memories from a young age are stronger and govern many of their feelings when they’re older. So try to establish yourself as the cool aunt or uncle when your niece or nephew is young, and it will be easier to keep the role as they age.
Being a cool aunt or uncle isn’t always easy because many adults are not used to embracing their inner child. But use the tips above as guidelines to gradually get used to it, and you can have an extremely satisfying relationship.
Watch this excellent video by YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen for some tips on how to embrace your inner child in a healthy manner in your everyday life!