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The minute you become a grandparent, you are bestowed with certain characteristics: the bragging rights of a PR guru, expert cheek-pinching and hair-tousling skills, and the intense impulse to be the favorite grandparent.

And it’s no wonder, says Georgia Witkin, author of The Modern Grandparent’s Handbook. “Grandparents fall in love with their grandchildren. You want them to know how special they are to you, and the way to measure that is by how special you seem to be to them.” Here are some strategies:

Don't buy their love.

Promises of forbidden cookies and late bedtimes may have your grandkids looking forward to a visit, but that kind of adoration fades when the sugar rush is over. Building a relationship based on true affection will be more meaningful to you both.

Listen to them.

Ask them questions, then sit back and let them know they’re being heard. You don’t have to correct them or give advice. “Just repeat back what they told you,” Witkin says. “You won’t sound like their parents or their friends. Instead, you’ll become a special confidant.”

Find similarities.

Talk about what their favorite things are — colors, foods, activities — and see if they match your own. Sharing interests strengthens your bond. “When they think of their favorite things,” Witkin says, “they’ll associate it with you.”

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