Have you noticed that there seems to be a day to recognize everything? I believe that the more recently invented “holidays” serve to devalue actual days of significance, such as Mother’s Day, Labor Day and Father’s Day. I’ve spent some time conversing with fellow fathers to glean a few trade secrets that can help to make being a dad a bit easier. I’d like to introduce a special feature called “Dad Hacks”.
Being a parent can be tough when so much is going on in life. If you need a bit of help strategizing or some advice about tackling life’s hurdles, then reach out to our psychologists in Tampa today!
Use Reverse Psychology Sparingly and be Creative!
Fellow father Christopher B. shared this with me, “I got tired of being such a pessimist/downer/anti-cheerleader. So, I developed an alter-ego: Dr. Do-Little. He speaks with a silly quasi-Russian voice and encourages my kids to do nothing. So, instead of me haranguing them to get ready for school, Dr. Do-Little pipes up and sneers, “Gooooood! Just lay there. Do nothing. You don’t know how to get dressed. You have no idea…” Suddenly, my kids would jump up eagerly to show off their get-ready skills to prove Dr. Do-Little wrong and make him mad (he’d huff and puff in disbelief). This made the daily grind of nagging into a game that we both enjoyed.”
Christopher found that this technique worked particularly well for getting his kids to eat healthier. “Making healthy food choices caused the character to explode, “Only eat cake! Do NOT eat carrots. What are you doing?! Don’t do that! Noooooooooo! Ka-booooooooom!”
Turn Off the DeviceWhether it’s a phone, iPad or TV, eliminate distractions by turning them off while with your kids. Click To Tweet
Whether it’s a phone, iPad or TV, eliminate distractions by turning them off while with your kids. Father of one, Josh D., told me, “Here’s a super simple way to level up your limited quality time around your kids: Turn your phone off.”
We’ve all been there – half listening to what our child is saying because we’re trying to “shoot a quick text” or checking the score to the latest ball game. Our children know when we aren’t listening (so do our spouses). Notice how their faces light up when we make eye contact and pay attention to them.
Model appropriate use to teenagers: are you constantly badgering your teen to give Snapchat a break? Show them, don’t tell them. Instituting a quiet hours policy where all devices are turned off for a set period of time can be helpful to enhance family engagement.
In light of the American Academy of Pediatricians’ recent assertions that children under the age of 18 months have zero screen time, Geoff B., father of an almost two-year old shared, “My son has had little to no exposure to TV and tablets. The occasional few minutes of a soccer game when daddy is watching is about the main thing he’s been exposed to. I don’t know if it’s directly related, but he has an advanced vocabulary for a two-year-old and is very conversational. He’s still initially a little shy with strangers, but once he passes that stage, he’s very chatty, which makes him fun. This means that every minute he isn’t sleeping, one of us (parents) must be engaged with him in some activity, which is not the easiest – but the benefits seem well worth it. It helped me realize that I don’t need TV all that much too.”
I enjoy cooking, especially for my family. It’s quite a kick to the ego after I’ve spent hours researching recipes, going grocery shopping and preparing the dish when I hear, “Yuck, I’m not eating that!” Here are some food-specific hacks that I’ve found helpful:
- Compromise – Just because I think a recipe looks good doesn’t mean my kids will too. Sure, part of my goal is to expose them to new foods and sneak healthier varieties into a meal, but not at the cost of their total rejection of it. My oldest daughter loves salmon and isn’t terribly fond of other types of fish. Thankfully, it’s easy to buy frozen, individually wrapped salmon fillets at Publix or Whole Foods that allow me to have a piece ready to go for her if I buy a different type of fish for dinner for the rest of the family.
- Allow for fun – Whether it’s plating food in exciting ways or coming up with a fictional or non-fictional story about where a dish comes from, I’ve noticed that when my kids are excited about a meal, they’ll eat more of it! Breakfast for dinner is always a big hit.
- Allow them to help – This means giving younger children “big kid” responsibilities like helping to set or clear a table and offering them opportunities to assist with cooking in simple ways that include beating eggs, shucking corn or turning on the mixer. I’ve also found that “build-your-own” food tends to make everyone happy, like taco night, build-your-own bowl (burrito, fajita, veggie, rice) etc.
Jeremy H., a dad of a three-year-old, offers some great tips about eating out of the house. “Have snacks with you at all times. Even though I know my son’s routine very well, I like to be prepared for spontaneous hunger pangs. We started taking our son out to eat as a toddler and I think he’s really well-behaved at restaurants now partially because of the experience. And remember, order their food when you order your drinks!”
We would love to hear some of your favorite Dad Hacks in the comment section!
Here for All ParentsRaising kids of different ages can be quite a challenge. Click To Tweet
Raising kids of different ages can be quite a challenge. Finding new ways to help you overcome these hurdles is an exercise that can feel overwhelming and never-ending. Rice Psychology Group understands how being a parent can be tough, but our team is ready to help you find some middle ground to make it all more manageable. Contact us today to learn more about our services and what we can do to help you!