First, I know. It’s differently, not different, but isn’t it fun to play with our language and not take it too seriously? After all, that’s what this post is all about – what we can learn from dads about not taking parenting too seriously. Dads play, parent, and do language development their way. It may be different from mom’s way, but that’s okay. In fact, maybe dad’s have it down.
Before all of you moms get all worked up, I guess my second disclaimer for this post is that I’m going to admit to stereotyping. Some moms are serious, while some are playful. Some dads do more play, while moms get stuff done. Some families work and play all together. I recognize that every family dynamic and individual is different, but I’ve worked with a lot of families, and there seems to be an overall trend. That trend is that dads are good at play. I think we should give credit where credit is due, and take away some lessons from all of those great-playing dads out there. Here’s what we should all remember…
1. Use what you’ve got.
Moms can be into having all of the right gear and all of the right toys, but dads will tell you to make do with what you’ve got. Whether it’s a caribiner for a little girl’s hair tie holder or a back for a pony ride, dads don’t need fancy toys. They use crazy voices, their strong bodies (am I buttering them up now, or what?), or everyday objects to get the fun going. So, channel a fun dad’s creativity and use a chair as a rocket ship or a pencil as a microphone.
2. Pack light.
Dads don’t need a diaper bag. They’ve got cargo shorts! How much stuff can a little one really need, right? That’s the beauty of dads – because they know how to use what they’ve got, they don’t need a lot of stuff. Take a cue from them and cut out all of the baby gear and kid clutter, keep it simple, and focus on good play and real interactions. Without all of that stuff to manage, it just might be easier to stay in the moment and enjoy your little one.
3. Be silly.
Whether it’s wearing a bib to match your little one’s, being a tickle monster, or using character voices to read a bedtime story, dads are great at using silly to keep kids connected. This silliness helps kids see that that there really is no rush, that there’s time to relax. It also shows them that it’s great to just be yourself and have a good time.
4. Live the fantasy.
I’m not a sports fan. I just don’t get watching sports. The thing I really don’t get is the intrigue with fantasy football and baseball, but whatever that thing is that my husband has with fantasy is fine with me. I think that thing helps him get into the fantasy of eating whatever my daughter “cooks” and of being a very ill person requiring repeated trips to the “doctor”. Somehow he’s happy to eat 30 more bowls of strawberry soup than I can stomach and have his blood pressure checked 25 times in one day. So, even if you have to sit on a tiny chair to have a wooden, vegetable-filled bowl of soup, travel with your child to the limits of her imagination.
5. Move yourself.
Moms can be more likely to watch, comment, or even direct from the sidelines, but dads certainly tend to get in there and move. My husband will literally hurt himself to give my daughter repeated pony rides across the wood floor as my daughter yells, “Faster, FASTER!” All of this movement and touch helps kids to bond and understand their bodies, and those are both important things for learning. Plus, there’s nothing like an awesome pony ride to get a child to request it over, and over (and over) and that’s how you fill up pages and encourage language development. So, get up and use the gift of movement to get your child truly engaged in activity.
Do you know a dad with special skills? What have you learned from watching a great man engage with a child?
Are you a dad who has lessons to share? What have you learned from your special time with your children?Email this article »