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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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Creating Holiday Memories

This is a guest post by Dave Taylor. Dave is a single dad to three kids, writing about his experiences at Go Fatherhood from their base of operation in Boulder, Colorado. He writes this post for NFI's "The 12 Dads of Christmas." If you are interested in writing for us, send an email.

12 Dads of ChristmasI'll be honest. My parents weren't really into holidays, either for themselves or for us kids. We celebrated some American holidays, but as newly minted Americans (I was born in England and didn't become a US citizen until I was 16) a lot of those holidays seemed less than vital. Then there were birthdays, which just weren't much of a big deal, with frankly uninspired present exchanges. Finally, we also celebrated the main Jewish holidays (Passover, Hannukah) but, again, not with great zeal and enthusiasm.

Of all those, I think Passover seder was the most memorable, and I have many fond memories of my cousin David and I giggling and cracking up as the ceremonial dinner proceeded, us often interrupting the readings with long portions of Monty Python dialog. I can only imagine how the adults dealt with it, but as a kid, it was definitely a fun holiday to celebrate with good food and favorite family members.

Now that I'm a single dad, creating holiday memories for my own children has become much more important. Whether it's my traditional Thanksgiving pot luck with friends and their children (my family lives far away, unfortunately) or hosting their birthday parties at our party-friendly house -- most recently my girl's sweet 16 sleepover! -- I have come to realize the value of celebration, the truth that without occasionally taking time out to be with the ones we love just for fun and social activity, it's hard to remember to be grateful and appreciative of the blessings we have in our lives.

And I can only hope that in ten or twenty years my children will be sharing with me their favorite holiday memories from when they were kids, whether it's the splattery mess of latkes for Hannukah and the gambling on which of the candles will burn out first on the menorah or my extraordinary ability to pick perfect presents for them, year after year. Well, maybe the latter's a bit much to hope for!

After all, holidays are about all of us, they're about our ability to stop and smell the proverbial roses, to enjoy and appreciate the amazing people with whom we get to travel through our lives. And if they're our kids, so much the better!

What's one thing you have to appreciate this holiday season?

Join in and share your most memorable holiday by recording a video, sharing a picture, or posting a comment on this blog, Facebook or 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

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

A Busy Mom Talks Fatherhood’s New Parenting Tool

Amiyrah Martin is like most parents; she’s super busy. A self-professed “double booker,” she admits to giving a verbal RSVP to one party, then checking her busy schedule to see that her family is already expected at another place. In her blog 4 Hats and Frugal, she tells the honest parenting truth and confesses, “I've even double booked at the Pediatrician.”

busy scheduleBeing a parent of one child is busy enough. Add more children to the mix and the busy-ness grows by leaps and bounds. So how do parents manage everything and still have time for tracking a child’s development and growth? The simple answer is: we need all the help we can get!

Amiyrah writes, “It’s easier than ever before to use technology for aligning busy family schedules, from calendars on a computer to apps on a phone, but there’s not a lot of tech-savvy ways to keep up with your child’s growth.” She also points out that while doctors may do a great job of informing and preparing parents during the visit to the office, it’s not always easy to stay informed between doctor visits. She says, “Usually I've just written down upcoming milestones as a note in my phone, or on a piece of paper, always wondering if there was an online tool I could use.”

Thankfully, her online tool is here now! NFI’s Countdown to Growing Up allows you to track your child’s growth and save your questions as a PDF for your next doctor’s visit and to review on your mobile device or computer. You can also print your child’s chart if you like!

Take it from one busy mom: “Let's face it: even though we live busy lives, education about our children's health is top priority. It's essential to their development as a little person and our development as great parents.” Amiyrah continues, “Countdown to Growing Up provides a place where we can document milestones, track growth compared with the "average" child, while giving ideas to help development and suggesting questions we can ask the Doc next time we visit. And yes, it's information you can save, and print!” 

countdown to growing upYou can read Amiyrah’s full blog about Countdown to Growing Up at the link below. Don’t forget to take the short survey and give us your opinion of the tool. As Amiyrah says in her post, “And don't be shy: use the heck out of this tool. I plan on doing the same.”

How to do track your child’s growth and development between doctor’s visits? 

Amiyrah is a Wife, Mother, Airman in the US Air Force and all around Frugal maven. Learn more about Amiyrah at her site 4 Hats and Frugal.

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

photo credit: David Robert Wright

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?

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

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

A Doctor's Advice on the Question: Is My Kid Normal?

As a parent, the questions about your child never end. There was probably a time when you thought that once your child was delivered, they'd end. But unfortunately, you were wrong. In fact, the questions only begin once Baby Boy or Baby Girl arrives. And as your child grows, so do the questions you have about their development. From day one, parents begin to wonder how their son or daughter compares to other children.

Countdown to Growing UpEnter the doctor's office.

As a parent, you will have to take your child to the doctor, and guess what your child's doctor will do? That's right, he or she will ask you questions about the growth of your child. At the end of the visit, he or she will typically provide you with a chart comparing your child to every other child in the United States. Sounds daunting? It is. But there is something you can do.

Enter Countdown to Growing Up. Writing on his blog, Dr. Choi, a pediatrician and father in San Fransico opens up about what he sees daily from well-meaning parents at his practice. He reveals, aside from the fearful child asking him, "Are you going to give me a shot?, the second most common question he receives is from parents asking, “Is my kid normal?”

In Dr. Choi's recent post, Is My Kid Normal?, he writes openly about how a typical patient visit goes, starting with his questions to the parent about what the child can and cannot do. Often, Choi says, when a dad brings in the child, he receives blank stares in response to questions like: “How many words can your child use in a sentence?" or  “Can she follow two-step commands?” These visits, Choi says, usually end with dad calling the child's mother.

But Dr. Choi isn't all gloom and doom with dads. He makes it clear that dads play a critical role in a child’s development and health, pointing to new research studies showing just how important dads are to the health of their children.

In fact, Dr. Choi recommends NFI's Countdown to Growing Up tool to help the busy dad or mom get a sense for whether or not their child is “normal." Choi tells his readers to get online, add your child’s name, gender, and click on the age group. Then, out pops a questionnaire on child development.

When it comes to child development, tracking your child's growth physcially and socially is important, and although your child may not be progressing at the exact same pace as your friend's kids, its important that they are progressing. And isn't it cool that dads (and moms) can play a role in helping their children grow by engaging them in activities to spur them along?

After reviewing the new tool, Choi says: "It is a great way to stop and evaluate how your child is developing and start thinking about how you can help. Print it out and bring it with you to your child’s next doctor’s appointment. Now you are fully prepared for your child’s visit and can confidently answer whether or not your child is “normal”.  You won’t even have to call their mother."

Dr. Choi is a board certified pediatrician based in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He serves on the Board of Directors for the National Physicians Alliance and is a national leader of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition to his role as physican and family man, he writes at The Huffington Post and on his blog. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children.

Countdown to Growing UpCountdown to Growing Up helps dads (and moms!) know about what to expect and not to expect in terms of child growth over the months and years. You can use the tool to make notes and save or print your child's chart to take with you to your next doctor's visit. Be sure to click on the Complete Survey button and give us your feedback.

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photo credit: foshydog

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