The best way for dads to connect to their kids is to get involved in their daily routines. Marriage and Family Therapist, Jason Williams has creative ways for dads to connect throughout the day.
For older kids talk to kids about what’s happening that day. I f possible help wake the kids up and get them up and moving in a gentle but firm manner. If you are a dad is off to work before the morning routine gets going, strive to be more involved on weekends or days off like becoming the best French toast or pancake chef your kids know.
Send a quick text to older kids letting them know you’re thinking of them and you hope their day is going well. For younger kids (infants and toddlers) calling home or to the daycare to check on them talk to them briefly or talk to your wife to ask how she is doing and how her day is going. (Research is very clear that one of the most powerful ways for dads to nurture their children and foster a healthy father-child is to show love and affection to their mother). Where possible take your kids out for lunch or eat lunch with them at their school.
Evening Time/Dinner time:
This is likely where dads can have the biggest impact, simply because many of them have more time at home in the evening. Spend as much time as you can playing and having fun. Fathers play a unique role in teaching children how to explore their world. Strive to maintain active, physical, and a playful style of
fathering; tossing the football, playing catch or going to library to find a good book to read. (One of the more rewarding activities that my son and I have enjoyed is to join the parent (father) child book club at the library and read a series of books together) Instilling a love of reading is one of the best ways to ensure a lifetime of personal growth and learning. Engage in diapering, bathing, and story time putting the kids to bed. Provide praise and recognition when your kids behave well or accomplish
something. Be interested in listening to them and showing interest in what they like.
Involve them in work projects around the house and yard. Do them together as
much as possible. Washing dishes together after dinner, cleaning up and mowing
the yard. Take a trip together to the hardware store for supplies. Focus on loving physical touch with hugs and kisses and verbal expressions of I love you. (It is sad how many times I hear people tell me in my therapy practice that their father never said the words “I love you.”) Remain calm and steady. Fathers who respond calmly when children get upset, misbehave, or otherwise lose control have children who are less aggressive, more well-liked by peers, and have greater self-esteem.
Dads have a powerful influence in helping younger children to prepare for success in the outside world by engaging in vigorous physical play. Discipline with love. Children need guidance and discipline not punishment. Have family dinner together. Teach children the importance of honesty, humility, being responsible by being a role model.
Find more articles and tools for dads at www.fatherhood.org.
Jason Williams is a licensed marriage and family therapist. For more information visit www.associatedpsych.com