This is video #3 in this 7 part video series called The Fatherhood Formula where we teach you the 7 Principles of Dad Success. In the first 2 videos we covered Commitment and Contact, the first 2 principles of the Fatherhood Formula. You can find these on our Fatherhood Formula Playlist.
In this video we are discussing the 3rd principle: Connection. Connecting with your child is absolutely crucial in creating dad success. Everyone, especially children want to feel connected. When kids don’t feel connected at home, at school, or within the community, that can lead to some big problems. They will seek out connection in ways that we prefer they didn’t. They will find connection through bad behavior, sex, drugs, gangs, etc. So let’s look at some ways that we as fathers can connect with our kids:
#1 – Provide Contact – In the previous video we discussed how crucial Contact is on it’s own. But it’s also helpful in providing connection. Hug, touch, or sitting with or close to your child is good. I understand your dad may have not shown much affection towards you. But it’s time to break the cycle. Don’t be afraid to hug and kiss your child…a lot.
#2 – Read to them – Whether they are too young to understand the words you are saying or they are old enough to read to you, the opportunity to share that time is valuable. You can connect through reading and stories.
#3 – Create a secret signal – One example is when you are holding there hand, you can squeeze it 3 times and let them know when you do that it means “I love you.” Or when you see them from across the playground and you touch your ear it means you think they are amazing. It can be anything and mean anything but it’s a way to connect non-verbally.
#4 – Play or do activities with them – Whether its a game, sport, and craft, kids all have something they like to do. Sit down with them and do an activity they choose to do. Get involved and play with them. As they get a little older it may take a little more effort to connect. But here’s a couple of more things you can do:
#5 – Have a meal together – I don’t care whether it’s breakfast lunch or dinner. Family meals improve connection. Reduce a teens chances of using alcohol or drugs in half. If you or your child’s schedule doesn’t allow you to be there at least a few times a week, see if you can modify the schedule. It’s that important. For you dads who work Dads fairly regular hours, make it a point to get home for dinner.
#6 – Plan a Date With Your Child – If you have more than one child or you always do things as one big family, this is incredibly helpful. Plan some one-on one time with your child. Do something where you both just get to enjoy each other’s time together.
#7 – Figure out what they like and learn about it – Your child might be into video games or collect something and you don’t understand it or have interest in it. Well, learn a few things about it and show that you appreciate something that they like. It will help make them feel connected.
#8 – Ask them questions about their life – If they feel connected, they will be inclined to talk more. Ask them questions such as “How do you feel about that?” or “What is your opinion about this”. Listen to their answers so they can share what is going on with them.
#9 – Family Meetings – Like asking them questions, a family meeting provides you an opportunity to listen. The meetings may include updating everyone on what is going on in the upcoming week, or to discuss issues anyone has had during the week that need to be resolved. Family meetings can be a good way for each member to feel heard and get a chance to provide input to the family.
#10 – Be empathetic – Empathy is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Kids (like your spouse) don’t usually need an answer to their problem. They usually just want to be heard. Showing you hear and understand them can go along way in providing connection.
#11 – Put Your Phone Down – Yes, put your phone down. We are all guilty of spending too much time on our phones. They are addictive, time consuming, and distracting. Our child is asking us a question and we aren’t paying attention because we are on our phone. You cannot properly parent if you are distracted.
Think about the suggestions I have provided. Yes connecting with your child takes effort. But remember, you are committing to dad success. For some of you, it might even be uncomfortable or feel awkward. That’s ok, do it anyway. Keep in mind too that a common theme in creating connection is being present. When you are present with your children, they will benefit from it and so will you.
I want to give you a homework assignment. I want you to do at least 3 items from our list over the next week. If you can do more, great, but do a minimum of 3. Observe any changes in how either you feel or changes you see in your child. It’s important for you to celebrate those feelings and take notice of them.
We also want to hear about your experiences. Leave your results or feedback in the comments section below. Let me know how it goes.