Every dad wants to do a great job. We want to the create positive memories and be someone our kids can turn to when they need help. Sometimes, our own upbringings can get in the way of doing this as well as we want to. Many of us can have the best intentions but, get swept up into the busyness of being a man, father, partner and provider. If that’s you, know that change is possible. You can grow and become a better father no matter your story or background.
In this guide we give you 4 effective tips from everyday kiwi dads raising emotionally resilient children.
1. Talk to them about their feelings
If your child is quiet, reserved or doesn’t seem themselves – ask them if they need to talk. “I noticed you were a bit quiet after that phone call. Do you want to talk about it?”
You might find that 9/10 they say no and that’s OK. The fact that you ask and continue to ask shows that you care, and you’re open to talking if and when they’re ready. This is a healthy way to set up trust with your children.
2. Let your children see you express your emotions
Our kids learn from how we express our emotions. If you’ve had a bad day at work, feel upset about something or watched a movie that made you cry – show it. You don’t have to explain everything to your kids, but it is helpful to talk simply about why you’re upset. You might say something like, “Dad had a bad day at work, and I feel sad about it. When I feel sad it makes me feel a bit better to have a cry.”
Talking about your feelings makes it normal for your children and shows them how to talk about how their feelings.
Expressing your feelings makes you a better father because you are role modelling that behaviour for your children. – Richie Hardcore
3. Model conflict resolution within the home
Disagreements and conflict are a normal part of life. It is likely that your child may overhear a disagreement or feel the tension of an argument between you and your partner. In these situations, children are often left to guess or wonder what happened. You can show your kids how to manage conflict by:
- Showing them conflict handled well can build trust.
- Showing them the importance of listening to each other and understanding.
- Showing them, you don’t need to win arguments, in this case when you win you lose.
As an alternative, you could use your resolution as an opportunity to teach your child.
4. Allow yourself to parent imperfectly
There is no school for being a dad, we usually learn from our dad, the good bits and the not so good bits. The truth is, we are constantly learning and changing and so are our kids. This means our parenting styles need to adapt and change as well. Remember that you will make mistakes, get it wrong or find your old ways of doing things don’t work anymore. This is a normal part of parenting and we’re all human.
Imperfect parenting is normal. We all make mistakes, what matters is how we choose to show up to the next challenge.