When your child is born you get a bucket 100% full of their love, respect, and admiration. The trick is keeping that bucket full.
Whether you’re a split family dad, full-time working dad, or stay at home dad the thing to remember is money and toys won’t keep that bucket full. What keeps it full is time. Quality, simple, time.
Here are twenty hacks that don’t cost much but will make you super-heroish in your child’s eyes and lay foundations for life long mutual respect and admiration:
Get At Child Level
If you want your child to look up to you, make sure you get at eye level with them as often as you can when you talk.
Just like you, if you feel you are ‘looking up’ to someone, it’s natural to feel subservient. Get on your knees and look ‘em in the eye. They’ll respect you for it.
Look At The Clouds
Maybe you have never done it, but laying on the grass watching clouds go by is a thing.
Spark imagination by looking for shapes. You’ll almost always find dogs, turtles, rabbits, and virtually anything else you can imagine in the clouds. And imagining is the key. The conversation you have in these moments can be amazing.
Get A Couple Of Kick-balls
For less than two bucks you can find a simple air-filled ball. Get ones that make sense for the size of your child and (maybe you can guess what to do, but in case you can’t) kick it with them.
Play With A Stick
Even cheaper than air-filled balls are sticks.
Sticks are amazing things. They can be tossed, banged, and twirled.
They can dig, be swords, and pretty much anything you want them to be.
Toss Pebbles And Rocks
Like sticks, rocks and pebbles are dirt cheap, plentiful, and fun to toss and throw.
Make sure you gage the tossing power and steer clear of danger of course, but things like this keep it simple and fun and take technology out of the picture so you can get at real communication.
Get Handy With Simple Food
In most cases there’s not much reason for fancy fare. But do keep it healthy.
Fruits, vegetables, fresh deli, simpler whole meats, and of course the standards, grilled cheese and mac and cheese can keep a child’s culinary curiosity satisfied easily.
Give Great Dad Hugs
Dad’s got big strong arms. Use them.
Wrap your child in meaningful hugs, even for no reason. Especially for no reason.
Children need to feel secure and the person they most look to for strength and security is dad. Good hugs go a long way.
Enjoy Their Everything
The natural curiosity of children is amazing, but you must want to see it.
Too often grownups are wrapped up in the adult world and don’t see the joy and simplicity of children. Go with it and enjoy it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Forget How Old You Are
Just like enjoying their everything, and maybe a big part of how to do it is forgetting you’re an adult.
See the world through your child’s eyes. The view is wonderful and honestly you can learn a thing or two from your children if you just let yourself.
Rediscover Cool Bugs
The world is a wonderous place with plenty of creatures in it. Don’t go sticking your hand in nests and holes of course, but when you get the opportunity to chat about a creature, do it.
Yes, Dolls Are Cool
And so are soccer balls, cricket bats, and sling-shots, but gender barriers should not raise an issue on one side or the other.
Get with the program of what your child feels comfortable playing with.
Listen To Understand
This is huge, and most everybody hasn’t a clue as how to do it. We get programmed in life to listen to respond rather than listen to understand.
The proper term for it is active listening, search it out and you’ll get some details. Essentially though, the adage that we have two holes for listening and one for speaking makes sense. You should be listening twice as much as you’re talking.
If you can master this early it will be a skill set that you and your child will carry thorough life.
Get Cool Books And Read
Spark that imagination and build that grey matter with books.
Study after study suggests that reading in early life greatly improves a child’s performance in life. Reading is such a critical skill that helping your child master it is one of the biggest favors you can do for them.
Children’s books are fun and you can find all kinds of stories and interactive experiences in them.
As a bonus, reading together is a bond builder.
Stick Your Toes In The Grass
Master simplicity, and share that mastery with your child.
There will be plenty of time for life’s complexities and hardships down the road, but if in the early years you set the example of seeing the simple joy in life you may just pass that along to your child.
Keep it simple, keep it fun. Help your child discover simple happiness.
Remember, They’re Smart
Children are much smarter and savvier than parent’s give them credit for. What they often lack is the life experience and perhaps language ability to express their thoughts in ways parents easily understand. Be certain though that their thoughts are far more complete than you may realize.
Be as curious as your child. Be more curious in fact.
Children are natural magnets for new information and experiences, and curiosity is the tool they will use to navigate life’s problems as they move along. By you sharing and showing your curiosity with them you will help them build healthy approaches to building knowledge.
Get Your Hands Messy
Go ahead and stick your hands in that finger paint or clay. It washes off.
I found a really good website with tons of ideas, and your hands don’t always have to get messy!
This isn’t always easy, and sometimes we must adjust schedules and things where our children may miss out on something. It happens.
But do your level best to keep your promises to your children. Keeping promises and honesty are the glue that will keep your relationship healthy and long lasting.
Never lie and even if it’s the hardest thing you have ever had to do, be honest with your children. Sooner or later they will reflect on major moments in their lives, and if you handled less than happy events with them honestly, they will reflect positively in that honesty rather than in anger of being lied to.