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Top Posts of 2012: #3 — 8 Things About Disciplining Your Child

disciplineThe Father Factor Blog is closing out the year by revisiting some of our most popular blogs of 2012! We've enjoyed talking parenting tips and tools this year with you. Today is our third most popular blog post of 2012!

From the blog:

Discipline comes from the Latin word “discipulus” meaning “to teach; to guide.” Punishment means to “penalize” for doing something wrong. Sometimes, these get mixed up with each other, resulting in a less than ideal outcome for our children. Therefore, it’s vital us parents know the following eight things about disciplining our children. 

1. Know Your Discipline Style

  • The Dictator. This Dad is always strict and never nurtures. His children know what he doesn’t want them to do, but rarely what he wants them to do. This Dad says, “My way or the highway.”
  • The King. This Dad is strict and nurtures when needed. His children know what he doesn’t want them to do, as well as what he wants them to do. This Dad says, “Let me show you the way.”
  • The Joker. This Dad is never strict and rarely nurtures. He jokes a lot and makes fun of his children. His children don’t know what he doesn’t want them to do or what he wants them to do. This Dad says, “Let’s just have fun.”
  • The Follower. This Dad is sometimes strict and sometimes nurtures. He lets Mom take the lead on discipline and backs her up when needed. His children know some of things he doesn’t want them to do and some of the things he does want them to do. This Dad says, “Do whatever Mom says.”
  • The Dreamer. This Dad is never strict and never nurtures. He lets Mom take the lead on discipline and doesn’t get involved with it. His children don’t know what he wants them to do or what he wants them to do. This Dad says, “Whatever. Just leave me alone.”

2. Know the Family Rules
Clear communication is vital for understanding right and wrong in your house. You will need to establish clear boundaries for your home.

3. Know Your Reward Options
Many Dads believe discipline means “to control” rather than “to teach or to guide.” As a result, they use fear when they punish. We give examples of rewards in the full blog post. But things like praising your child for correct behavior, certain freedoms like stayin up later at night or reading an extra story at bedtime may prove helpful.

4. Know Your Punishment Options
When the time for punishment happens, it’s vital dads know they have options. We give several examples in the full blog post, but in short, things like actually saying you're disappointed and making your child right the wrong by apologizing for wrong done to someone can go a long way toward teaching your child instead of simply punishing.

5. Know Difference Between Discipline and Punishment
Many Dads define discipline as punishment. In other words, they don’t see punishment as a way to discipline in certain situations. They see punishment and discipline as the same thing.

6. Know Difference Between the Action and the Actor
Always focus on the “Action” not the “Actor.” Talk about what your child did. It’s okay, for example, to say that your child did something “bad” as long as you don’t say your child is “bad” for doing it. Keep the focus on the action.

We offer age-specific ideas for new dads learning to discipline, for kids and for teens in the full blog post.

7. Know the “Why” of Discipline

Always explain why your child is being disciplined. Discipline is meant to guide your child and to teach a lesson. It’s essential you explain to your child why they have to sit in their room or give up TV.

8. Know How to End with Love
No matter what, never end with the discipline; always end with love. Hug your child and let him or her know you are disciplining out of love. 

Read the full blog post for more detailed tips: 8 Things to Know About Disciplining Your Child

Tell us: Which blog post did you like the most in 2012?

photo credit: o5com 


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5 LEGO Inspired Foods for a Fancy Party

This is a guest post by Carlo Pandian. Carlo is a freelance writer based in London who writes on parenting, cooking and all things LEGO. If you would like to blog for us, email here.

Despite the global domination of the computer game, LEGO remains an eternally popular hands-on toy for kids. Of course it’s not just a toy, nor is it just for kids, and plenty of teens and adults have proved that sculpture is not confined to the world of bronze and/or structural steelwork. You can create some amazing displays in LEGO, and for those with a family obsessed with these diminutive plastic bricks the good news is that LEGO-themed foods are easy to create. Whether it’s a kid’s birthday or just for fun, these LEGO-inspired tasty treats are easy to, erm, construct. 

Basic Modelling
The shape of LEGO blocks is probably what makes them an ideal basis for a range of foods.  Forgetting the mini-figures for the moment, the basic structure is very blocky! The studs on the top are relatively easy to create with a range of ingredients and a little imagination. 

Let them Eat Cake
LEGO cakeAdmittedly, Marie-Antoinette and her family were not overly fond of blocks but, LEGO fan or not, who doesn’t love a cake or two? Sponge, of any variety, can easily be baked in the required rectangular shape or, alternatively, a large square sponge can be cut into a range of different sized blocks. Circular sponge sections can then be placed to mimic the studs and the whole confection covered in suitable icing colored in bright primary colors like LEGO itself. 

Made for Lego?
LEGO marshmellowIf bite-size Rice Krispie squares weren’t designed to be adapted into a LEGO-themed treat then I can’t image what was going through the head of their creator. Again, it’s easy to cut the stud sections and apply them to the squares using melted chocolate. If you use a basic white chocolate mix you can add appropriate coloring, to create the final constructed confection.  These are great served up on a plate or can be popped onto lollipop sticks – either way they tend to shift quickly, so make plenty. 

Helping Hands
LEGO lollipopThese are a combination of the above. Small pieces of cakes decorated with Smarties, to create the studs, can be covered in melted chocolate to create the desired form. Cake pops are not only popular at kid’s parties but also tend to be one of those activities that younger members of the family enjoy getting involved in. When preparing them you’ll need plenty of greaseproof paper to place the setting pops on, and plenty of kitchen-towel to wipe the kids with. A change of clothing is also a handy ingredient. 

Healthy Alternatives Kids Will Eat
LEGO watermelonFor those involved in the long-term battle of getting healthy fresh fruit and vegetables into smaller people, the watermelon is heaven sent. Sticky, juicy and tasty it appeals to kids in its natural form but can also be easily sculpted into melon-pops. Cut into squares and sculpt the Lego studs with an apple corer. It’s a good idea to chill these, to resemble lollipops, but also to reduce at least some of the sticky/messy content that develops when you add a child.  

Mini-Sculptures
LEGO breadMini-figures are not, it has to be said, the easiest object to sculpt in any edible media, but sandwiches can provide an excellent solution. These can be cut into mini-figurine head shapes and the tops decorated with a range of expressions, using a little of the filling of choice.

Mom and dad: What have you built with your kids recently?

Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer and blogs on free time activities, parenting and LEGO covering everything from LEGOLAND Discovery Center attractions in Dallas to teaching recycling to children. When he’s not online, Carlo likes cooking, gardening and cycling in the countryside.

My Apology to My Junkyard Dawg Dad

This is a guest post by Larry Elder. He is author of Dear Father, Dear Son now available for order on www.larryelder.com. If you would like to blog for us, email here.

Heard of Tiger Moms? I had a Junkyard Dawg Dad. 

For a very long time, I hated him. His anger. His volatility. His surliness. Today, they’d use the term “emotionally unavailable.” 

Larry Elder

“Dear Father, Dear Son,” my new book, is a 247-page apology to this very special, WWII retired Marine, my father. I knew virtually nothing of his life, and never had a conversation with him, until I was 25.

From the time I was fifteen -- when my father and I had a big, long-time-coming fight -- until ten years later, we did not speak to each other. I wanted nothing to do with this volatile person who, for reasons that escaped me, managed to marry my mother. Our little home, where my two brothers and I slept in the same bedroom, instantly became a place of tension the moment Dad set foot in the front door. Was it supposed to be like this?

After ten years I sat down and talked to the man -- for eight hours. 

Why, I wanted to know, were you so damn angry all the time? Why did you whip the three of us -- my two brothers and me -- so furiously? Did you know that the three of us were scared to death of you? Did know that this fear crossed into hatred? Did you care? Does this even matter to you?

An only child, my father was a black boy born to an illiterate single mom in a rented room in Athens, Georgia. He was a child on the eve of the Great Depression in the Jim Crow South. He did not know his birth date, and used the one arbitrarily written down by a teacher when he started school.

He never met his biological father. His mom raised him with a series of boyfriends, one of whom was a man named Elder. That man never married my dad’s mother. Worse, he was an alcoholic who beat both my dad and his mom. 

One day my dad came home from school and made too much noise for his mother and her then-boyfriend. They all quarreled, his mom siding with the boyfriend. My dad was thrown out of his house at age 13 -- never to return. A year later the Great Depression began.

He dropped out of school and looked for work wherever he could find it. After a series of jobs as a yard boy, shoeshine boy, hotel valet and cook, he finally landed a prestigious job as a Pullman porter, then the largest private employer of blacks in the country. It was as a Pullman porter that Dad first visited California. He thought of it as a less prejudiced place, loved the climate, and made a promise to someday return. 

After Pearl Harbor, he joined the Marines. Why the Marines, I asked? “I liked the uniforms,” he told me, “and they seemed to always go where the action was.” So they made him a cook. 

He trained at Montford Point, the segregated Marine base next to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He was soon put in charge of food services, and became a staff sergeant, stationed on Guam in the south Pacific. 

But when discharged, he could not find work as a cook despite his now-considerable experience. He went to an unemployment office in Chattanooga, Tennessee where he was instructed by a white clerk to walk through the “proper door.” So he goes out into the hall, goes through the “colored only” door to the very same clerk who told him to go through the "proper door.” “Now, how may I help you?” she said.

There has to be better place than here, he thought. Dad left for California.

Restaurants in Los Angeles did not tell him -- as they did in the South -- that he’d not be hired because of his race. Instead, they refused to hire because, as he was told, “You have no references.” 

He worked two full-time jobs as a janitor, and attended night school to get a G.E.D. He averaged less than four-and-a-half hours of sleep for years. Pressure, lack of sleep, “running from job to class,” he told me, makes a man a little grumpy and impatient -- especially when raising three loud boys with a stay-at-home wife. 

He worked so hard, he said, because he never had a father, a secure home and “food in the icebox” to come home to after school. “So,” he said, “I did my best to give you kids what I never had.” He told me that growing up without “a real father in the house” was not a death sentence. If you work hard, and people “see you struggling,” they will help. But it’s up to you to play the cards you are dealt the best way you can. And the best way is through hard work.

Randolph Elder lived to see the completion of this book. He died two months before what we believe would have been his 96th birthday. I got a chance to read “Dear Father, Dear Son” to him. His verdict? “I have no idea,” he laughed, “why anyone would care about my little life.”

They care, Dad. For those born and raised in tough circumstances, you show the path: While we cannot control our circumstances, we are in complete control of our effort.

What would you tell your dad if you could sit down with him like Larry did his father?

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.


Raising a Thankful Child in 4 Easy Steps

If you've been a parent for longer than one second, you understand children have a way of not being satisfied. Most likely, your child will not come out of the womb as a grateful child. And when she learns to speak, her first words will probably not be "please" or "thank you" -- this is life. Trust me on this one, I write from a few years of experience. The time will come when your child isn't satisfied. You bought the green toy -- she wanted the pink -- and only the pink will do!

raising thankful child

Aside from throwing your hands up and saying, "forget it, we have birthed an ungrateful child who will never be thankful!" Take comfort in knowing you are not alone. I repeat: You are not alone. While your child may currently display ungrateful tendencies, he dosen't have to be ungrateful forever. With care and teaching, your daughter or son can learn to be an upstanding lady or gentleman.

How we show thankfulness is vital to whether our children will act and treat others with gratitude. When it comes to teaching your child to be thankful, Gandhi's teaching comes in handy, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Check out our four tips on how to raise a thankful child.

  1. Model Thankfulness. Say "please," "thanks" and "you're welcome" every day. Be sure this vocabulary is used by you and in your home. Parent, if you want your kids to be thankful, they have to see it first. I'm reminded of the saying, "Good manners are not only taught, they can be caught." It's vital that you not only teach your child to say "thank you" and "please" every day and at various moments, you must also use these words yourself. Thank your child for doing his chores well. Make sure your kids, hear you say "Thank you" to their mother. Don't limit thanks for actions - thank your family for being kind, patient, caring, or whatever character quality you notice about them that day.
  2. The "Thankful" Talk. During dinner or in the car driving to and from an activity, ask each member of the family what they were most thankful for that day. Make asking a daily habit. Taking a moment to reflect on the day will help everyone find something positive, even if it was a tough day. Plus, it will give you extra insight into what's going on in your child's life. As the parent, be the one to always stir the conversation to the positive side and give encouragement. Remember the objective of this conversation -- you're teaching your child to be thankful!
  3. Advertise Your Thankfulness. Hang a dry-erase board in a prominent place in your home and call it "The Thankful Board." I once worked at a company that had a "Kudos" board for its employees. This provided a great way to create an environment of encouragement and thankfulness. You can have your family write messages on the board to either say thanks to each other for something big or small. Also, you can use it to share something to your family for which they are thankful.
  4. Teach Thankfulness. Help your child understand why it is important to say "thank you." Explain to your child the "why" behind the "what." Of course, how much you explain will depend on the age of your child, but the point here is to not simply demand and be a dictator, but to teach your child why being thankful is important. With your teenager, try asking how he feels when someone says "thank you" to him. Use this time as a opportunity to teach him that other people also want to feel noticed, appreciated, and valued and that saying "thank you" makes someone else feel happy.

What one thing will you work on that will model thankfulness to your child today?

ThanksDad

Visit our "Thanks, Dad!" page for more on how you can connect with your family and other dads just like you! Don't forget to say, "Thanks, Dad!" by recording a video, sharing a picture or writing a short note commenting on this blog, Facebook or on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

photo credit: Vermin Inc 

8 Things To Know About Disciplining Your Child

Discipline comes from the Latin word “discipulus” meaning “to teach; to guide.” Punishment means to “penalize” for doing something wrong. Sometimes, these get mixed up with each other, resulting in a less than ideal outcome for our children. Therefore, it’s vital us parents know the following eight things about disciplining our children.

8 things to know about disciplining your child discipline1. Know Your Discipline Style

  • The Dictator. This Dad is always strict and never nurtures. His children know what he doesn’t want them to do, but rarely what he wants them to do. This Dad says, “My way or the highway.”
  • The King. This Dad is strict and nurtures when needed. His children know what he doesn’t want them to do, as well as what he wants them to do. This Dad says, “Let me show you the way.”
  • The Joker. This Dad is never strict and rarely nurtures. He jokes a lot and makes fun of his children. His children don’t know what he doesn’t want them to do or what he wants them to do. This Dad says, “Let’s just have fun.”
  • The Follower. This Dad is sometimes strict and sometimes nurtures. He lets Mom take the lead on discipline and backs her up when needed. His children know some of things he doesn’t want them to do and some of the things he does want them to do. This Dad says, “Do whatever Mom says.”
  • The Dreamer. This Dad is never strict and never nurtures. He lets Mom take the lead on discipline and doesn’t get involved with it. His children don’t know what he wants them to do or what he wants them to do. This Dad says, “Whatever. Just leave me alone.”

When considering which discipline style you most associate with, ask yourself, “Is this the best style for my children/my family/my involvement?” And consider something more middle of the road.

2. Know the Family Rules
Clear communication is vital for understanding right and wrong in your house. You will need to establish clear boundaries for your home. We have written about Creating Family Rules in the past. Check them out and consider adding rules in your home today.

3. Know Your Reward Options
Many Dads believe discipline means “to control” rather than “to teach or to guide.” As a result, they use fear when they punish. It’s vital you know your child and what he/she considers a reward when it comes to discipline. 

Some examples of rewards include:

  • Praise: Tell your child how much you like their correct behavior and that they’re a good person for doing it.
  • Encouraging Touch: Give your child a hug, pat on the back, or high five. It's never too early to teach your child the fistbump.
  • Freedoms: Give your child a new freedom she or he can do one time or all of the time, such as stay up or out later, read an extra story at bedtime, have a bowl of ice cream, or money for doing an extra chore.
  • Gifts: Give your child a toy, stickers or some extra cash.

4. Know Your Punishment Options
When the time for punishment happens, it’s vital dads know they have options. Some examples include:

  • Say You’re Disappointed: Tell your children you expect more of them, and you expect them to behave the right way.
  • Pay it Back: Tell your child to make up for bad behavior, such as paying for breaking something, doing the behavior they were supposed to do in the first place, or saying they’re sorry to someone they hurt.
  • Take a break: Tell your child to sit in a corner, on the couch, or go to their room for a short period of time. This works best with children under the age of 10.
  • Grounding: Don’t let your child leave the house for some period of time. Grounding works best with teens.
  • Take Away a Freedom: Remove a freedom for a period of time or forever.

Make sure the punishment fits the crime. Don’t take away a freedom, for example, when a child does something minor and telling them that you expect more of them the next time will do the trick.

5. Know Difference Between Discipline and Punishment
Many Dads define discipline as punishment. In other words, they don’t see punishment as a way to discipline in certain situations. They see punishment and discipline as the same thing. Discipline means to teach or guide. Punishment means to “penalize” for doing something wrong.

6. Know Difference Between the Action and the Actor
Always focus on the “Action” not the “Actor.” Talk about what your child did. It’s okay, for example, to say that your child did something “bad” as long as you don’t say your child is “bad” for doing it. Keep the focus on the action.

Here are ideas for age-specific discipline:

For Dads of Infants and Toddlers:

  • Discipline as a way to protect: At this age, guidance and discipline are about protecting your little one from hurting themselves. Say “no” firmly, but not harshly, when your child does something dangerous and move him or her away from the object or area immediately.
  • Consistency is important: Be consistent with enforcing the boundaries you set in your home – inconsistency will confuse your child and give him the “ok” to push the limits if he thinks he can get away with it.  

For Dads of School-Aged Children:

  • Discipline as a way to nurture: When your child does something inappropriate, talk with him or gently about why the behavior was wrong – explain how it hurt other people, or is rude.  
  • Take a break if you’re frustrated: Never discipline out of anger. Do your best to always discipline calmly.
  • Make the discipline fit the child: Different children will respond to discipline differently. One of your children might learn better through being deprived of a privilege (such as watching TV or a favorite toy); another child might respond more to being sent to his or her room or having to do extra chores.

For Dads of Teenagers:

  • Discipline as a way to guide: At this point, your teen is becoming an adult and wants to be treated as such. You still need to be your teen’s parent, not best friend, and that means setting rules to help your teen make good decisions and firmly enforcing consequences when those rules are violated.  
  • Let them make mistakes: While your teen still needs to honor your family’s rules, giving your teen the freedom to make their own choices can be a valuable learning experience. Always make sure your words and actions communicate to your teen that you will always love them even if they make mistakes.

7. Know the “Why” of Discipline
Always explain why your child is being disciplined. Discipline is meant to guide your child and to teach a lesson. It’s essential you explain to your child why they have to sit in their room or give up TV. It’s the lesson you teach them through the discipline that is most important.

8. Know How to End with Love
No matter what, never end with the discipline; always end with love. Hug your child and let him/her know you are disciplining out of love.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about disciplining your child?

Image: iStockPhoto

Join Us at "The Play-By-Play on Fatherhood"

flutieOn this Friday, unlike any other time in history, the wide world of sports and the world of fathers comes together!

Dove®Men+Care® and Dad 2.0 Summit are partnering for "The Play-By-Play on Fatherhood with Doug Flutie" and we couldn't be more excited to be a part of an event that will advance the public dialogue on responsible fatherhood.

As Dad 2.0 writes on a recent blog post:

"For football fans, you know Doug Flutie from the Hail Mary pass that beat Miami on national TV in 1984. You know about his subsequent 20-year career in the NFL, CFL, and USFL, despite the prevailing wisdom that he was too short to make it as a pro quarterback. You know about Flutie Flakes. What you may not know, however, is that Doug’s son was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old, and since 2000 the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation has raised more than $13 million to help improve the quality of life for people and families affected by autism. Doug is also part of Dove®Men+Care®’s latest “Journey to Comfort” campaign, which touches on fatherhood as never before. He’s amassed a lot of specific insights about how fatherhood changed his life, as it changes every man’s. And on October 26, he’s going to sit down with us and talk about them."

National Fatherhood Initiative has been invited to “The Play-By-Play on Fatherhood,” along with several dads who will explore, promote and champion fatherhood.

Join National Fatherhood Initiative and many other dads for the live-streamed broadcast on the Dove®Men+Care®Facebook page on Friday, October 26, at 10am Eastern. During the live-stream connect with the host and attendees by commenting on Facebook and tweeting to @DoveMenCare@dad2summit and of course @TheFatherFactor!

10 Ways to Help Your Child Deal With Bullying

Dads are often the last to know when our child is the victim of bullying. Children often do not share with their parents that they are being bullied due to shame and embarrassment. Use these 10 tips to protect your kids from bullies and help resolve school conflicts.

bullying

1) Know the Warning Signs: Understand that bullying can occur in physical, non-verbal, or online (cyber bullying) forms. If another child teases your child consistently, this represents a form of verbal bullying. Watch closely, anything from a lack of desire to attend school to sudden falling grades are possible signs your child might be experiencing a bullying problem.

2) Talk to Your Child: Be intentional about how you spend time talking with your child. Spend regular time making it clear that your child can talk to you about anything, especially tough situations at school. If your child knows you are interested in the small, daily things; he or she will be more comfortable to tell you the bigger things.

3) Teach Your Values: How you talk with your child daily will shape how your son/daughter values him- or herself. It’s never too early to talk to your child about your values. Your child needs to know right from wrong in how they treat people. If you teach your child well, they will recognize bad behavior when they see it; whether it’s to them or others. Teach your child that the standard is treating all people with respect. 

4) Get the facts. Get as much information as you can from your child if they tell you – or you suspect – a bullying situation. Consider your child's behavior, conflict-management skills, and temperament. Remember to support your child even as you do additional research on the situation. Ask detailed questions about the incident(s): Who was involved? What exactly happened? Who else might have seen the situation? Dad, do not act before thinking at this point. Do not instruct your child to fight back.

5) Stay Calm: 
Upon hearing that your son or daughter may be encountering a bully, you will probably want to pounce on said bully. Remember, a bully is seeking to create fear and control. All experts agree that the most important thing to do is stay calm. A bully is seeking reaction. Do not give it. How you personally react to the news will shape your child’s reaction.

6) Teach Your Child to Stand: Confronting a bully may be your child’s only option, but they should not seek to harm someone physically or verbally. Teach your child to stand up for him or herself, and that it is okay to speak up when spoken to in a degrading way. Of course, there is a delicate balance between instigating a fight and being a wet blanket. The earlier your child learns this, the better.

7) Talk to the Teacher: It is vital that your child learn how to handle his or her own social situations. It’s simply and a part of maturing. But, teach your child that if the bullying turns to threats of violence or emotional harm, it’s time to tell the teacher.

Dad, do not try and straighten the behavior of another child on your own. Contact your child’s school and learn about the school policy and how to access available resources. Often teachers have the best grasp on the relationships between children in the classroom. Stay professional in your interactions with school staff, and be sure to emphasize you want to work with them to find a solution. Teachers, principals, and guidance counselors are available to help.

8) Involve the Parents/Guardian: Unless the bully is over 18, which would be dealt with on a completely different manner (and different blog post), the bully will typically have parents. In most cases, the bully’s parents/guardian will not know that their child is the class bully, so it is generally a good strategy to get them involved. Keep in mind they will probably be defensive at first, so be careful not to lose your cool and make matters worse. 

9) Involve their Friends: There is definitely strength in numbers. Whether at recess, lunch or between classes, have your child plan to walk with friends. Often, bullies will not single you out when you are surrounded by supportive friends. On the flip side, your child may think they are among friends, but if those “friends” are also chiming into the bully’s behavior, help your child understand that those aren’t the type of friends he/she may want to keep. This may be a good time to encourage your child seek out new classmates as friends.

10) Prevent the Cycle. Help your child understand the situation by talking with them about why the bully acts the way he does. Empathize with your child but also constructively involve him or her in solving the problem. From kindergarten to high school, it is valuable that your child seeks supportive friends. Teaching your child appropriate social skills that build self-esteem will make them less likely targets. It's impossible to protect your child from any and all situations, but by being active and intentional, you can help your child navigate some situations.

For instance, practice scenarios while on the playground, during sibling conflicts, or even with situations you read in books and see on television. Make it a point to discuss with your child about exactly what happened in a book or movie and what the best response is in these situations. Whether the character does the wrong or right thing, the opportunity to discuss the event and use it as a teachable moment is there – seize it.

Finally, it is important for you to explain to your child that sometimes all that is necessary is avoidance. Bullies may give up if they don’t get attention. Above all, be sure you take the issue seriously and listen to your child. A child knowing that dad is supportive can give a child confidence. Sometimes, confidence makes all the difference.

What's the best advice you've heard for dealing with bullying?

 photo credit: woodleywonderworks

5 Questions Every Father Should Ask Himself

We call him the “24/7 Dad.” We believe that every child needs one. What we are talking about is an involved, responsible and committed father. We are talking about a dad who knows his role in the family. He understands he is a model for his sons on how to be a good man. Likewise, if he has daughters, he models what they should look for in a husband and father for their children.

dadandchild320 resized 600In our fathering handbooks and training, there are five questions we think every responsible father should answer. As you read, ask yourself these questions. These five questions come with a guarantee: if you answer each one honestly and take action, you will become a 24/7 Dad!

The questions we ask dads fit into five categories and are as follows:

1. Self-Awareness. The 24/7 Dad is aware of himself as a man and aware of how important he is to his family. He knows his moods, feelings and emotions; capabilities, strengths, and challenges. He is responsible for his behavior and knows his growth depends on how well he knows and accepts himself.

Don’t run by this first category without some self-reflection. Be honest with yourself as a man and father. Do you know what part of the day you are likely to be most tired and annoyed? Be discerning about how you treat your children during these times.

The 24/7 Dad also knows his ability to be with his children is affected by the choices he makes. With your vocabulary, replace “I’m too busy for XYZ” with the words “I didn’t make XYZ my priority.” Hear the difference?

So, the 24/7 Dad asks himself: How well do I know myself?

2. Caring for Self. The 24/7 Dad takes care of himself. He gets annual physicals, eats right, exercises, and learns about the world he lives in. He has a strong connection to his family and community, and chooses friends who support his healthy choices. The 24/7 Dad models for his children that he respects and likes himself because he makes good choices. When’s the last time you were at the doctor? If your answer to this question is “I go to the doctor every decade whether I need to or not!” you may want to consider modeling a different standard to your son or daughter.

So, the 24/7 Dad asks himself: How well do I care for myself? 

3. Fathering Skills. The 24/7 Dad knows his role in the family. He knows he should be involved in the daily life of his children. Consider this: Who dresses and feeds your kids? Who attends parent-teacher conferences? Who supports their sports and other interests/activities? Who helps with homework and tucks them in at night? Of course the daily schedules of work factor into this equation; however, if your answer to all of these questions (and more) on a daily basis is “mom,” we have a problem. The 24/7 Dad uses his knowledge of the unique skills he and his wife/the mother of his children brings to raising his children. In other words, he knows the difference between “fathering” and “mothering.” Said a different way, if you weren’t in the family, would anyone notice based on the daily household tasks?

So, the 24/7 Dad asks himself: How well do I “Father”?

4. Parenting Skills. The 24/7 Dad nurtures his children. Yes, nurturing is for men to do as well. He knows how his parenting skills help to develop their physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, and creative needs. His children trust and feel safe with him because he cares about and nurtures them through the use of proven parenting skills. The 24/7 Dad uses discipline to teach and guide his children, not to threaten or harm them. This is big; don’t miss this point. If and when you discipline, how are you doing it? Are you seen as the executioner of the house who comes down from time to time with his golden rules? Discipline is best done with the idea of instructing a child in the way he or she should go. This isn’t done in anger or simply because you have had a long day and are annoyed in the moment.

So, the 24/7 Dad asks himself: How well do I “Parent”?

5. Relationship Skills. The 24/7 Dad builds and maintains healthy relationships with his children, wife/mother of his children, other family members, friends, and community. He knows and values how relationships shape his children and their lives. The 24/7 Dad knows how the relationship with his wife/mother of his children affects his children and creates a good relationship with her for the sake of his children. He always looks to improve the skills he uses to communicate with others. 

So, the 24/7 Dad asks himself: How well do I relate?

Dad, what questions would you add to this list?

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This post was excerpted and adapted from NFI's 24/7 Dad resource. Read the original post in our For Fathers section.
photo credit: Fabiana Zonca

New Tool Makes Parenting Easier

If you are reading this, chances are good that you are already involved in your child’s life. Knowing this, we want to help make it easier for you to be involved and educated about the ages and stages of your child's development. We received such great feedback on our Ages and Stages Charts in the 24/7 Dad® curriculum - developed with contributions from Dr. Kyle Pruett and Dr. Yvette Warren - we decided to bring it you in a FREE online version!


The Countdown to Growing Up tool helps dads (and moms!) know about what to expect and not to expect in terms of child growth over the months and years.

Countdown to Growing Up

You can also use the tool to make notes and save or print out your child's chart to take with you to a pediatrician visit for discussion if desired. 
Be sure to click on the Complete Survey button once you have finished using the tool to give us your feedback. We'd GREATLY appreciate it! 

To begin, simply enter the name of your child, then select his/her gender and age. If you have more than one child, we will provide you with an opportunity to enter his/her/their name(s) and age(s) after entering the information for your first child.

Depending on your child’s age, you will be taken through statements to answer Yes or No/Unsure for three targets: Physical Growth, Mental/Emotional Growth and Social Growth.

Please note, this tool is customized to track ages from birth to 18+ years and older.

Countdown to Growing Up

For example, I chose to test "Fred," a five-year-old male for purposes of this review. For a five-year-old male, the Physical Growth milestone has statements like:

  • Grows 2-3 inches but gains as little as 2-4 pounds a year. Children grow and gain weight at very different rates.
  • Clearly right or left-handed.
  • Learns to tie shoes.

You as the parent simply clicks YES or NO/Unsure box for each statement.

Using "Fred" as the example, the Mental/Emotional Growth milestone asks:

  • Uses complete sentences with many words.
  • Learns to name coins, colors, days of week, months.
  • Takes basic care of self (dress, brush teeth).
  • Helps with simple chores.

For the Social Growth milestone, statements such as:

  • More settled and focused when with others.
  • Begins to notice the outside world and where/how belongs.
  • Enjoys doing things with parent of same sex.

Again, for you the mom and dad, it’s simple to click Yes or NO/Unsure for each item.

There is a section for "Additional Notes," which is optional for placing notes to yourself that will save and/or print with the PDF of the report.

Once you have chosen YES or NO/Unsure on each statement, you are taken to a list that reads: Milestones (Your Child) Has Reached. Below is an example from our test. Your report will be customized to your child's name, gender and age.

 

Countdown to Growing Up

Additionally, a section is automatically created for your customized report that reads Milestones (Your Child) Has Not Reach, your additional notes from the previous page have now been added to the report.

Lastly, on the same report is invaluable “Tips to Help (Your Child’s Name) Grow" from physicians. This is free expert advice targeted directly at your child's gender and aged based on the information you provided in answering the statements. These tips from physicians offer you expert advice for what to watch for in your child's development as well as tips to help you grow your child. 

Countdown to Growing Up

Notice at the bottom of the above image, you have four options for what you can do with the customized report of your child:

1) View PDF
2) Save as PDF
3) Track Another Child
4) Complete a Brief Survey 

Choosing “Save as PDF” will allow you to email it to yourself and then use it on your mobile device. For instance, if you have an iPhone or iPad, the PDF from your email can be saved in iBooks on your phone or iPad for easy, mobile and paperless reference at your child’s next doctor appointment.

There are two additional options, which are Track Another Child and Complete a Brief Survey. Please feel free to use this new and free tool for all of your children. Please also take a moment and complete our survey. We would love to hear feedback from you once you use the tool.

We know parents do not have a lot of time to study their children. We hope you this tool makes your life easier. Track your child’s growth today. Believe us, you will be prepared for your child's next visit to the doctor; and your doctor will never know how simple and easy it was for you!

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

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