How to Be a Great Auntie

Three Parts:Being Available to Your Nieces and NephewsEngaging Your Nieces and Nephews with ActivitiesSpoiling Your Nieces and Nephews

Becoming an auntie to a child, whether by blood or by choice, is an exciting experience. As an aunt, you are involved in your niece or nephew’s life, engaging them, loving them, and acting as a role model for them. While the prospect of caring for and being involved in a child’s life might seem daunting to a first time aunt, you will quickly find that it is easy and fun to build a great relationship with your niece or nephew.

Part 1
Being Available to Your Nieces and Nephews

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    Listen to them. Sometimes parents are too busy to listen to their children, especially if they have multiple children and busy careers. In situations such as these, as an auntie you can give more time to all the stories and news that your nieces and nephews want to share. In this way, you are almost acting as a supplemental parent by offering your niece or nephew your attention when they need it.[1]
    • Practice active listening with your nieces and nephews. Listen to closely to what they are saying to you, and then repeat it back to them in their own words to make sure that you understood what they told you.[2] Now, your niece or nephew will either confirm that you understood what they said, or they will correct you and explain what they meant. This helps to avoid misunderstandings.[3]
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    Act as a role model. In addition to listening to your niece or nephew, you can offer them advice, teach them how to do things, and set a good example for them.[4] This will allow you to help mold your niece or nephew’s behaviors through your own example or counsel. For example, you might offer advice on how your niece or nephew should treat their siblings or how they should maintain a relationship with their parents. [5] Or you might offer relationship advice or counsel your niece or nephew on school or career paths as they get older.[6]
    • If you do not believe that you would be a good role model for your nieces and nephews, ask yourself why not. Is this something that you can change about yourself? If so, consider making the change. If not, consider the impact this will have on the children. Ask yourself if this is something that you could hide from your nieces and nephews, if you cannot change it. If so, consider hiding it.
    • For example, perhaps you are a young adult and you like to drink alcohol with your friends in the evening. You know that drinking alcohol in excess in front of your nieces and nephews could have a lasting negative impact upon them and that it wouldn’t make you a good role model. You might decide to stop drinking so much in order to be a better role model for the children. Or you might decide to continue drinking with your friends, but choose to remain sober when you are around your nieces and nephews. If you feel like you need to get drunk around your nieces and nephews, return them to their parents immediately. Getting drunk in front of them is irresponsible, and sets a bad example for them.
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    Be available to your niece and nephew. Babysit your nieces and nephews when they are young. As they get older, let them know that they can drop by to see you whenever they wish. Take them on outings with you or arrange scheduled visits with them.[7] The more time that you spend together, the stronger your bond will become. You will also show them that you are dependable and that they can trust you by making time for them.
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    Spend time cultivating your relationship with them through phone calls, text messages, and emails.[8] This is especially important if you can't visit with your niece or nephew or if you live far away. By incorporating mediated communication into your relationship with your niece or nephew, you are teaching them that you are always available to them and that you can be reached in a multitude of ways.[9]
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    Share stories with your nieces and nephews. If you know that your niece or nephew is going through something that you experienced as a child, share the story of your experience with your niece or nephew. [10] Children like hearing stories, especially when they are relatable or if they contain stories that include people they know such as their parents, grandparents, or other aunts and uncles. These stories inform your nieces and nephews of their family history, while also letting them know that they are not alone in their experiences.
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    Remain on good terms with your siblings. Your brother or sister is likely the parent of your nieces and nephews, and you want to make sure that you don’t go against their wishes when you are spending time with your nieces and nephews. Your relationship with your nieces and nephews depends upon the strength of your relationship with their parents. The closer you are with their parents, the more likely that you will be close with your nieces and nephews.[11]
    • As an aunt, you also want to make sure that you back up your siblings in the values, lessons, and rules that they are imposing upon their children.[12] Respecting your siblings, shows your nieces and nephews that they should respect their parents and the family unit as a whole.

Part 2
Engaging Your Nieces and Nephews with Activities

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    Choose activities that your niece or nephew enjoys. When in doubt, ask them what they like to do. By undertaking an activity that they like, you will be able to hold their interest and demonstrate a common bond with them.
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    Teach them how to do something that you enjoy. If you have a talent or a special skill, go out of your way to teach your niece or nephew how to do what you do.[13][14] This will create a stronger bond between you and your niece or nephew and this activity may become something that they only do with you. For example:
    • If you are good at baking cookies, perhaps you can teach them how to make your recipes and you can bake cookies together.
    • If you are a musician, perhaps you can teach them to play music with you.
    • If you play a soccer, you might teach your niece or nephew how to kick the soccer ball around the field with you, or instruct them on the rules of the game.
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    Take your nieces and nephews to interesting places. By taking them to a place that you find fun or interesting, you’ll impart your interests on them. These places might include planetariums, museums, parks, zoos, aquariums, beaches, etc. These trips can be educational, informative, and fun.
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    Make staying in fun. Sometimes staying in can be more fun than going out with your niece or nephew. You can giggle and dance in the living room.[15] You can build a blanket fort and watch movies or read books together all afternoon. Doing an activity together doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to leave the house or spend a lot of money. Below are a list of other activities that can make staying in fun:
    • Bring along something from work and do a show-and-tell.
    • Work on a science experiment together.
    • Bake a dessert together.
    • Go through an old photo album filled with images of you and their parents.
    • Do an art project together.

Part 3
Spoiling Your Nieces and Nephews

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    Buy them gifts. [16] While it makes sense to buy gifts for the child’s birthdays and winter holidays, sometimes it is fun to surprise your niece or nephew with a gift at random. Sometimes these gifts will be impractical items that are adorable or funny, and other times your gift may be a toy that you know the child has been yearning for.[17] Regardless of what you gift the child, the look of excitement and happiness on their face is always worth the expense.
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    Take them out for dessert. As an auntie, you can spoil your niece and nephew with desserts when they spend time with you. This is a particular treat for the child if your visits are infrequent or if their parents do not often give them desserts. Taking a child out for ice cream with rainbow sprinkles is a great way to spoil them and bond with them at the same time.[18]
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    Take them to do something special. An easy way to spoil your niece or nephew is to take them to do something significant once or twice a year. For example, you might take them to a baseball game if your niece or nephew is a sports fan, to a dinner theatre musical if they are a fan of theatre, or to see The Nutcracker if they are a fan of dance. While these events may range in price from free to pricey, this is a special treat and time spent with you that they will treasure.
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    Maintain boundaries. While spoiling your nieces and nephews is fun, you want to make sure that you aren’t doing anything that will have negative consequences for you or for them. For example, you might let your five year old niece stay up an hour beyond her bedtime to finish watching a movie with you, but you don’t want to let her stay up until midnight. Likewise, you might like to take your teenage nephew out for dinner and a ball game, but you shouldn’t be giving him beers while he is in your care.


  • Reward them for good deeds.
  • Be supportive.
  • Use positive reinforcement and avoid punishing your niece or nephew since that is their parents’ role.
  • Maintain firm boundaries and let your niece or nephew know what those boundaries are.


  • Don’t keep secrets from your niece or nephew’s parents.
  • Don’t undermine their parents.
  • Respect your niece or nephew’s parents’ rules and wishes regarding their child.
  • Don’t say negative things about their parents or other family members.

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Categories: Parenting