From play wrestling to teaching life skills, here are some tips on how to foster that one-of-a-kind relationship between you and your kids
It’s almost Father’s Day – a day to recognize one of the most influential figures in a child’s life: dear ol’ dad! As a dad, you’re one of your kiddos favorite people (even if Spiderman occasionally edges you out of the top spot).
With all the stressors of adulting – work, health, money, aging parents, to name a few – it can be tough to channel your inner Elsa and let it go and truly focus on playing and being present with your kids. Nonetheless, that bonding time is invaluable for their development, and letting loose with your kids and checking the stress at the door also does wonders for your own sanity!
So in honor of Father's Day, here are some ways to help cultivate that precious bond that only a father or father figure can have with his kids.
Dad Bonding for the infants
Moms often have the advantage of bonding during pregnancy, but dads of the tiniest of humans can get in on that action, too!
A great way to help regulate their developing bodies and help them become familiar with you in those early months is to do skin-to-skin contact with your infant. Give them eye contact, talk, and sing. Diapers and nearby burp cloths are highly recommended!
Another way to engage with those little ones is to imitate what they’re doing. Simon Says Lite if you will.
It’s also never too early to start reading or flip through books with your tykes, and babies especially love those high-contrast books. Or, if you’re the more imaginative type, make up a story for them! Don’t take offense if the baby snoozes mid-story – it’s them, not you.
Parent Bonding for Bigger Littles
Once the kids are more communicative and active, it opens up a new world of possibilities! There’s an especially sweet spot for bonding time before they’re in elementary school and have more friends and extracurricular schedules.
One of our favorite ways to engage with our littles is to involve them in our own hobbies.
Your kids want to see you having a good time, too, so why not teach them your (safe) craft? Love to build? Challenge them to create the ultimate battle robot out of LEGOs. Then battle! Obviously.
Prefer the great outdoors? Carve out time to teach them a skill or activity that you can envision doing together in the future.
Maybe you’re into a certain sport. Share that love with your future MVP! Take the time to explain the rules of the game and have a little family scrimmage yourselves. Perhaps your love of the game will inspire him or her to join a team in the near future.
And when your to-do list is miles long, consider having them tag along with you when you run errands. Yes, the trip to the hardware store WILL be 3x as long, since you’ll have to explain what every gizmo does, but be honest: doesn’t that sound kind of fun? Like an adult version of perusing a candy store leisurely with your sidekick in tow.
Have Parenting Rituals
By rituals, we aren’t suggesting busting out the sage and chanting (unless, of course, your family is into that, then please, by all means!).
Family traditions and rituals are extra special when they start in childhood. Can’t you just imagine your daughter telling her kids that she and her dad used to get fresh donuts every Saturday? Or your son recounting how he used to wrestle with his dad when he was little? There is no such thing as a too-small tradition. Secret handshakes, morning brushing songs, bedtime stories…The list is endless and each one is so meaningful.
Even involving kids on your nutrition routines can model healthy behaviors for them. Do you do push-ups every night? Have them get on your back for some added resistance! Do you take your vitamins first thing in the morning? Make it a two-fer and give them theirs at the same time. (And may we suggest cementing your place as the favorite parent by giving him or her a delectable, well-rounded fair-trade chocolate vitamin??)
Parent on Their Level
Last but certainly not least, your kids likely have their own evident strengths and are curious about different things. Figure out what your child’s interests (or love languages) are and play into those!
Visit the library together and check out a book about your kid’s interest, find a video on YouTube with the creature he or she is really into, or even pretend alongside them in a storyline they begin. We guarantee that when you dive into those and help them explore their interests, that’s when the strongest connections will emerge.
Father Time Matters
Taking the time to connect with your mini-me will have a profound and positive impact on them that they’ll carry with them their entire lives. Keep on rockin’, dads, and here’s to you.
Happy Father’s Day!