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It’s no question that parenting is the most difficult, yet the most rewarding job we will ever have. I have found over the years that the 5 tips below have helped me be a better dad to my 4 kids. I’m always looking for feedback so include any of your tips in the comments that have helped you. With your permission, I may share them in future posts.
No One’s Perfect
We all want our kids to do their best and strive for excellence, but pushing them too hard can cause a negative reaction rather than a positive. When our kids mess up at home or school we should let them know that making mistakes is part of life and that it is OK. Use the mistake to teach and mentor them in the expected behavior or action. We as parents also mess up from time to time. Why should we expect more from our kids than we do from ourselves?
Alone Time Is Good
Set aside time every day for your kids to have “alone” time where he or she can gather thoughts, read a book, work on homework or simply rest. Kids, just like adults, go through a lot of ups and downs during the day. Having alone time is healthy. Turn off the phone, TV, video games and any other distraction for 30 minutes to an hour every day. Alone time for the kids means that mommy and daddy get alone time. Even with 4 kids, this is possible…at least for 15 minutes, right?
Be Fair and Consistent
I can’t tell you how many times my brother and I fought over things growing up. One of us had a red toy and the other a blue, or one had a Popsicle and the other an ice cream sandwich. Being fair and consistent as a parent is tough. What may work for one of our kids may not work for the other, but we have to show them we are treating them all equally. When our kids ask to play video games, our rule is that they have to finish all of their homework first. Once the homework is done, we set a timer for video game time and then move on to the next activity. My kids will fight tooth and nail to extend the time, but this is where being fair and consistent comes into play. It’s not wrong to occasionally extend by 5 or 10 minutes, but don’t make this a habit. Teach your kids that there are limits and why there are limits (bad for eyesight, inactivity, etc).
Give Undivided Attention
When your kids ask you a question or want to show you something they learned give them your undivided attention. This means putting away the phone, tablet, laptop, book or whatever distraction you may have in your hands. Let your kids know that what they are showing you takes precedence over everything you have going on. Kids’ sporting events are not the time to look down at your phone, but unfortunately this has been my observation of other parents at games. I can’t say that I haven’t been guilty of this in the past, but I have made a rule with myself that my phone is only out during their events to take pictures or video – that’s it. Our kids need to see that we are taking interest in their lives and supporting them. Watch your child’s progress in the sport, cheer him or her on and offer encouragement. You can’t do that if you aren’t watching.
Go on a Kid/Parent Date
My wife and I have been going on kid/parent dates for a while now and we love them! It doesn’t have to be anywhere that costs money or is expensive. Simply leaving the house and doing an activity with each child individually will give both of you that quality time that is so important. For my boys, they love going to the store to get a new video game. My daughter likes to go to the mall or to get ice cream. Make the date about them and not about you.