Sunday, December 8, 2013
Huffington Post: Nearly 25 Years of Fathering -- and All I've Got Are these 3 Lousy Tips, by Jim Higley (Author, Bobblehead Dad: 25 Life Lessons I Forgot I Knew):
[W]hat I lack in reading and scholarly research, I've compensated for with a lot of observations, conversations with professionals and good old-fashioned trial-and-error. A little over 24 years of it. One of the things I've learned is that being an effective dad requires strong communications with your child. If you can nail that part of the dad job, the rest comes much easier.
A daunting task for sure -- especially as kids get older. So, here are my three top tips to help you grease that two-way road to trust-filled communications with your children.
- Put it on Ice. You don't need to react so quickly to every situation. Slow down and think. Erupting like Mt. Vesuvius, spewing words and emotions, doesn't work. It's scary and models inappropriate behavior for your children. ...
- 30-Second Rule. Stop lecturing. And when you feel the urge to lecture, limit it to 30 seconds. Kids hate lectures. I bet you do, too. If you can't get 95 percent of your point made in 30 seconds, then you need to think through your message. ...
- Stop Solving Everything. This one took me years to figure out. It's one that is really hard for dads to get good at because we love fixing and solving things. I'm talking about those times in life when your kids are mad, upset, hurt, frustrated, or angry over a host of things. Mean friends. Unfair coaches. Tough teachers. Annoying siblings. The list is miles long. I know for me, any time I used to hear another problem de jour, I'd reply to it with strategies for fixing it and make it go away. ... And you know what I've learned? Kids don't always want you to tell them what to do. They don't always need you to strategize. They're also far more resilient and capable than you give them credit for. A lot of times, they just want you to be in the zone with them. Empathize. Go deep. Be in the moment. Experience their feelings. ...
So there you have it. My top three tips. And just in case you're thinking, "Taking the easy road, huh?" the truth is all three of these ideas require you to stop, think and really focus on what your child needs. They require conscious parenting. But slowing down, taking time to think, fine-tuning your message, and acknowledging your child's emotions are collectively some of the best ways to build strong communications. Try them out. Modify them to work for your family. The rewards are plentiful.