Today, I’m going to start a new topic. This topic is called “Being a Dad”, I’ve been a dad for 18 months now, and I’ve learned quite a lot, and I still have a great deal to learn as we go. A few things I’ve learned:

  1. Ask, Say, Do – a cool little technique for teaching a child to do something. Instead of taking complete control of a situation and doing everything for the child you start by asking them what they think they need to do first (giving them an opportunity to say what the first step is). If they ‘say’ it correctly you move on to ‘Doing’ but if they don’t you then ‘say’ what they need to do first. ‘Do’ is all about the child doing with you assisting – rather than the other way around. Then when the first step is complete you go through the cycle again (ask, say, do).
  2. Telling not Asking – instead of saying ‘do you think it’s time for a bath now?’ saying ‘it’s time for a bath now’ – the first option gives the child the option to say no and then leaves you needing to convince or negotiate. The second option might also get a ‘no’ but is less likely to get that result. I guess it’s about assertive instructions rather than open ended ones.
  3. Quality Time – I’ve always tried to set aside time for one on one time with my daughter. I spend as much time after work with her as I can. Some days, we do a field trip to the park or even to the mall, and some days we just stay home and color or read or watch a movie. Weekends, we usually start off with a big breakfast together, then we continue that with some coloring and books and toys. Some days in the summer, I take her out to the local farmer’s market to pick up some local fresh produce. Quality time throughout the day is important to your child.
  4. Escalation Trap – most parents have experienced it. It’s a pattern whereby you as a parent only seem to get your child to do anything by escalating your efforts to get their attention – ie shouting, screaming, threats and craziness. The child also uses the same technique to get what they want – (tantrums). When this pattern takes over a family things can get pretty crazy as everyone’s pattern of behavior is to only respond to escalated behavior and to get their way by escalating.
  5. Accidental Rewards – where you reward bad behavior – sometimes just to make a child stop behaving badly (buying the toy they want when they’re throwing a tantrum in the supermarket) or sometimes inadvertently by giving the child attention when they’re doing something antisocial (laughing when the child throws blueberries at their grandmother). The problem with these accidental rewards is that the child learns that the behavior can get them something and they’re sure to repeat it.

Those are the most important rules I’ve learned so far, but I’ll have more tips for you about my experience being a dad as this goes.