The new school year is well underway, so this is a perfect time for you as a dad to join in adopting a growth mindset to strengthen and build the bond you have with your child. This translates to making a commitment over the next nine months of this school year to grow and learn even more when it comes to “studying” your child.
Here are five ways you can have a big impact on your kid.
1. Regularly check-in and ask if you’ve hurt your kid’s heart.
I love the story of a father in Southern Oregon who asks his five-year old daughter one question every night as he tucks her in bed, “Has daddy been sharp with you today?” Talk about bold and brave! He’s keeping short accounts with his daughter while making sure that he’s not allowing wounds to fester.
What would it take for you to ask that bold question every day of your child?
2. Affirm your kid at least once a day.
I promise you there’s not a day that goes by where your child isn’t hurt by someone, somewhere, somehow. It’s just the way it is. And because we thrive when our relationships are in harmony, this means when hurts cumulate, they have a toxic, destructive influence. With your kid, this will undermine confidence, calling, gifts, perspective, mood, and so on.
So imagine the power that one positive, life-breathing, affirming message from you can have. It can turn your child’s whole day around for the better. It’ll only take about one minute of your time to text your child. But why not change it up sometimes and tell him in person one positive trait or character quality aspect of who he is? And for extra credit, send a card in your own handwriting (or if still at home, put it somewhere unexpected) to give something to read and reread. Your child will treasure it on an especially hard day.
3. Listen twice as much as you talk.
This is the whole “God gave us two ears and one mouth” thing as a reminder that it’s a good rule of thumb to guide the ratio of talking to listening in our relationships.
Do you mostly tell your kid what you think and expect or do you draw it out to find out why he had the reaction he did or questions he has that may not make sense to you?
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s REALLY hard work to actively listen (and I do this for a living!). It’s so much easier to formulate my opinion, defense, or position rather than REALLY hearing first what the other person has to say…in its entirety.
As a dad, if you take the time to ask your kid questions like, “What was the best part of your day and why?” and “What was the worst part of your day and why?,” and then listen until you think you can’t listen any more, your kid will trust you with the deepest things because you set the foundation by listening.
4. Put your money where your mouth is.
To state the obvious, it costs a lot to raise a child these days. It seems like every time you turn around, there are more expenses that bleed you dry and overextend your resources. Am I right or am I right?!
Yet your kid is growing up in a day and time where your kid doesn’t have control over the cost of living, the price of gas, tax increases, school and sports fees, and on it goes.
Although you may feel the stress and burden of providing for your family, if you can find creative ways here or there to purchase something for your daughter or son, your child always remember it in years to come.
5. Pray daily for who you want your child to become.
Even if prayer isn’t your thing, I challenge you to take a 3 x 5 card and start with writing three words on it. Write those things you want to see God do in your child that will allow your kid to be a world changer. For example, you could write, “courageous, uncompromising, and confident.”
Then commit to daily asking your Heavenly Father to lock and load these qualities into the fiber of your child’s being so he or she becomes all He made your kid to be.
Portions of this post originally appeared at Dr. Michelle Watson-Canfield’s Blog.