Make sure you kiss your child goodnight or he will remind you, irrespective of what you are doing. It could be very costly!

When you tuck your Toddler in at night, always kiss him ‘good night’, and when you go and greet him the next day, kiss him ‘good morning’ as well. If you do this from birth, it will become second nature to you both. It is yet another little brick in the castle of emotional ties that you are building up with your child, which will stay with both of you for the rest of your lives. Even if your child is asleep when you do this, subconsciously he will know and sense you have done it. It will also allow you both to close off the old day, and start an exciting new one together, the next morning.

This habit will last all the way through to adulthood, and if you happen to forget one night, you can be sure your child will remind you. I once had an embarrassing episode with my daughter, while I was taking an evening phone call from a potential new employer. I had answered the call before I had kissed her goodnight. She was 3 years old at the time.

I was downstairs trying to sell myself for this particular new job that I wanted and she was standing at the gate to her bedroom shouting “kiss me goodnight Daddy”. I could hear her very clearly, but was trying to remain focussed on the call. Eventually having been distracted for about 15 minutes, the call was about to end and the person interviewing me said “next time you should say goodnight to your child before you do a phone call like this”. I was shocked as I thought she couldn’t hear my Toddler. I then stumbled out some lame excuse, about why I hadn’t said goodnight to my daughter yet, before saying goodbye to my interviewer. I didn’t get the job by the way, so be warned…..

This and many more anecdotes and tips are in my Book Help I’m a Father, by Mark Hearn, which is available through Amazon

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How important are you as a Role Model for your child?

Sometimes you can forget how important you are as a positive Role Model for your child, and just take this vital part of the Father child dynamic for granted. Your child will observe and copy everything you do, all the time, even if you are not aware he is doing it. Boys particularly will observe very closely what you as their father are doing.

As the joint most important Role Model in your child’s life, you have a huge responsibility to lead by example, however difficult it appears to be at times. The way you behave will be considered as normal and acceptable behaviour by your child. If you are considerate and calm, your child will be. If you are aggressive and loud, you child will also be like that. The question is always, ‘what constitutes a good Role Model for your child’?

Remember at all times, ‘your children are what you make them’. Whatever you are doing or saying you must always keep this in mind. Your child will reflect how you are towards them and others on a day to day basis. The following tips on being a good Role Model are fairly obvious, and certainly not meant as a lecture, but only as an ‘aide memoire’ and is also certainly not an exhaustive list. The goal is simply to help you improve the quality of your child’s life going forward as they pass through childhood.

Work hard at what you do (paid or unpaid)

Be nice to people, even if they irritate you

Be polite and kind to everyone you come across in life

Be tolerant of other people’s differences with you

Always help others if you are able to

Never be aggressive, nasty or react violently

Be a good citizen and respect the laws of the country

Be a good listener and give your time to people you meet

If you haven’t got anything nice to say about someone, then don’t say it at all

They all seem fairly obvious, but in the heat of the moment, we often forget. Your children look to you as their beacon and you must truly lead by example.

 

Is it ever acceptable to lie to your children?

This is often one of a father’s (parent’s) real dilemmas. What level of openness and honesty should you have with your child when she is a Toddler or under 7? Should you tell her exactly what is going on and risk upsetting her, or are there ever times when lying to you child is acceptable? Every parent wants their child to be brought up to be open and honest and therefore you may worry that if you are not like that with your child every time, she may assume that not being honest is acceptable and normal behaviour.

It really depends on the sensitivity of your child and you may feel that a ‘white lie’ is acceptable if it is done to protect your child from something, particularly if they are not yet of an age when they can understand the full consequences of it. The dilemma of course, is that you may not want to tell a lie to your child.

Once your child gets a bit older and becomes more mature, you will decide when she is ready to hear the truth every time. But initially this may be very hard for her to take in or accept. Irrespective of the age of your child, you may decide that on very serious issues, you will never lie to her. This rule however, can be very difficult to stick to, but if you always keep in mind that your child deserves to be treated with respect, then you will always make the right choice for her.

If you do decide not to tell your child something and tell her a lie, you must ensure that there is no way she can ever find out the truth, until at least she is an adult. If she does, then it will say to her that this is an acceptable way to behave. Always remember, your child, particularly as a Toddler and up to puberty, will look to you as her role model and if you do something, then she will do it as well.

Do you realise how observant your Toddler is?

Little children are like little sponges, and soak up everything that is happening around them, whether it is what you do, which they will copy, or what you say, which will eventually be repeated. This can be the most embarrassing as it will come out when you are least expecting it. I learnt this through experience, which eventually cost us a friendship.

I had offered to make a video at a friends wedding and give it to them after they returned from their honeymoon. As you do, before they got back, I was checking the video and doing a little editing to make it as perfect as my amateur talent could do. While I was reviewing the film, I had forgotten that my 3 year old son was sitting quietly in the Corner of the room playing in his play pen.

As I was looking through it, there was one particular shot which caught our friend at the wrong angle, and caused me to make an ‘off the cuff’ remark to my wife “I didn’t realise that Annabelle had such a big nose”. The comment was then forgotten about, particularly as that wasn’t the case in reality.

The next day she came round to our house and we welcomed her in. No sooner had she got into the lounge and my Toddler shouted out, “Daddy says you have a big nose!” At that moment, I wished I wasn’t a father, and that the ground would open up and swallow me whole. I was so embarrassed, and tried to say that my son was saying something like ‘be noise’, or an invented word ‘benose’, but he wouldn’t have any of it. He repeated and kept saying very loudly “no Daddy, you said big nose”.

Our friend was hugely offended, although she tried to laugh it off, but that day was the start of the end of our friendship. I have never made the same mistake again, so be warned.