No matter what time of year it is there is always the opportunity for new beginnings, to set new goals and have new aspirations. As we head into the summer, we all pledge to spend more time with our kids, balance life better and find new ways to support our children, but in reality, it’s difficult to follow through. Here are a few practical tips that dads can follow to make family life a little more meaningful:
Create fun family rituals together
The start of the spring/summer season is a great time to build some family rituals. A dad once told me that at the start of every year, he schedules holidays or local getaways with his kids as they update their family calendar. They look for ‘high pressure moments’ in the school year: times when the kids have exams or big projects, and plan holidays or fun trips right after. This ranges from movie nights to weekend trips to a favourite city. Other examples include starting a family dinner ritual for back to school. Be inspired by Harvard University’s Family Dinner Project.
Whatever they are, fun family rituals not only create memories but can help bond a family together.
Cultivate a “growth mindset”
Stanford University Professor, Carol Dweck, suggests cultivating a “growth mindset” whereby kids understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort and persistence. Her research shows that praising effort rather than intelligence or talent can have a lasting positive impact on your child’s development.
Tip: Instead of saying, “Good job, you’re so intelligent,” give compliments like “Good job, you worked very hard,” or “Wow, I love how you kept trying to figure that out.” This way, they are likely to develop a growth mindset and persist despite failures and setback. Children can still feel positive emotions even after mistakes, because they understand their intrinsic value as a person hasn’t been called into question.
Engage on their level for genuine quality time
There is a difference between doing things you think your child would like to do versus doing things they actually enjoy. A dad once shared that he thought fixing the car together would be a cool activity but when he asked his son, he was told playing Lego with him was more fun. Interestingly, twenty minutes into playing with Legos, his son jumped up and asked if they could fix the car together. Take time to observe what your child actually enjoys doing and engage with that activity for genuine quality time and connection.
Demystify school life – get support!
According to the OECD report, children receive an average of 7,475 hours of compulsory instruction during their primary and lower secondary education. School plays a massive role in influencing your child’s development and yet for most busy dads, school life remains a mystery or the job of the spouse. Research suggests engaging fathers in their children’s education can make a significant difference to the lives of both child and father well beyond the years of school-based learning. At Linden, our coaches offer 15 minutes weekly updates via phone/skype or in person during lunch breaks on the academic progress and needs of your child. They regularly liaise with teachers and present the information in a clear format so that you and your partner can have quality conversations with your child(ren) and provide the support they need.
Activate your “village”
Expose your kids to other men, women, aunts and uncles around you who share your values or have other perspectives that can broaden your child’s worldview. The old saying is true: It takes a village to raise a child. We were never meant to raise our children all alone or in a bubble, so let some pressure off and enlarge your circle.
Learn from each other
You have much to give and much to learn from your child. What are your thoughts on how to manage time? How to lead a difficult team? How to work out complex algebra equations? How to bake a killer cheesecake? Find a time that’s right to share your pearls of wisdom. Likewise, be open and stay curious about what your child is learning at every stage. Let their natural curiosity about certain things or passions inspire you. Sharing and listening will be perceived as an act of love.
Want to share a tip for other dynamic dads? Contact us – we’d love to hear from you.
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