Have fun with your baby right from the start. Even the mundane things can be a huge enjoyment for you both…..

Don’t be afraid to change your baby’s nappies right from the very first time she arrives home. Make it a fun time as well, by singing little songs, or tickling your baby’s feet or tummy while you do it. Subconscious bonding occurs while you do this, as she smiles at you, and you smile back at her. Each time you do this, you are reinforcing the link and love between you. Such a mundane yet intimate task as changing a nappy, lays the seeds for a very strong and involved relationship between you and your child as she grows up.

Whenever possible, try to be present for every bath time. Get used to holding your baby in the water, while you wash her. This will give you the confidence to handle her in a potentially dangerous situation, and create trust between you and your baby. It will be another reinforcement for your growing bond together as well.

Make sure you make bath time fun. This is a part of the day that you and your baby can really enjoy. Once the job of being washed is out the way, serious play time can begin, even when your baby is very small. Always keep little floating ducks or balls in the bathroom that she can push around the bath. When she is so small, you should always hold her very firmly with one hand.

Let her splash you while you pretend to be shocked. Your baby will love the staged expressions on your face as you get wet.

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It is possible to amuse your Toddlers whilst stuck in the car and avoid stress for all the family. Try these games and distractions and enjoy the ride.

Playing games in the car will normally stop your child getting bored and agitated. A good one that you can play with him, is ‘the snooker game’. You ask him to spot the colours of cars in the order of the balls played in a game of snooker. You start with white, then a red, then yellow, and all the way up to black. Have you ever noticed how few yellow, brown or pink cars there are on the roads? In fact there are hardly any pink ones at all. You can keep this game going for as long as you need to. It will keep your child amused for a long while, as well as distracting you.

Another game you can play is looking for the type or make of car. For example a Volkswagen Beetle, or an Aston Martin DB9. If you want the game to last a little longer for your child, then choose a rare type of car. If you want your child to find it quickly, choose a more popular model. There are many variations on this theme that you can use depending on how creative you want to be. For example, it could be marques of lorries, buses, vans or even caravans and trailers.

If you prefer to play more educational games with your child, you can play ‘Capital cities of the world’. This game is both interesting and educational for you and your child and keeps him focussed on fun learning instead of getting frustrated because he is bored in the car. Start with very easy ones such as the Capital city of England or Scotland. You call out the country and your child has to guess its Capital city. Once he gets used to some of the answers, you can progress to other more difficult ones from European or South American countries. You will be amazed just how much knowledge your child will pick up and retain.

As you know, the car can be a very challenging environment with your small child. Occasionally if the games don’t work, you can start singing songs together. This will work well for you and can be used as a means of passing time between two points on the road. If it is fifteen minutes until your exit, you can devise a game for all of you to sing songs, one after the other and you can all give marks out of ten. For example, between two junctions on a Motorway, suggest to everyone in the car to sing an agreed song or nursery rhyme, until the second junction is reached. There must be no exceptions, and everyone must join in. Let your child choose the song as soon as the one you have chosen is finished.

You will see that time passes very quickly like this and it is very good for strengthening bonds between you and your child. It also reinforces your child’s sense of doing fun things with you. Remember you want to have really good fun with your child, and that is an important part of your relationship together! For example, while going under the Dartford Tunnel, you and your child could sing “10 little ducks went swimming one day”. The goal would be to finish the song exactly at the moment when you leave the tunnel. Your child will be enthralled.

You can also invent stories to tell to your child in the car. He will be captivated. For example, you could invent a story about ‘The Wicked Witch of Gott’ (this is a totally made up name). She is an old witch who sits at her window watching the children go to school. If somebody pulls a face at her, she will cast a spell and that face would become permanent on the child who pulled it. You can only get your normal face back if you go up to the Witch’s house and apologise to the Witch in person (nobody wanted to do that). The only other way to get your normal face back is if the wind changes direction. You can adapt this story with different characters and draw it out or shorten it depending on the length of time you are in the car. This will be subconsciously teaching your child to be polite and not to pull faces at people, also to respect others who are different.

Your child will love stories which are told by you, so you can be very creative with them. For example, you could invent one about a family of dinosaurs and its prehistoric adventures, with each dinosaur representing one member of your family. You can let your Toddler choose who is what dinosaur, then you can recount a story which you can make up as you go along. If you let your child choose who you are, you might find that you always end up being the Brontosaurus! I wonder why……

How do I react and behave while my baby is being born?

One of the most moving, emotional and significant moments of you and your partner’s lives, is the birth of your child. Nothing can prepare you as a Dad, for the arrival of this new being into the world. It is so emotionally charged, that there is a real risk that reason goes out of the window.

This is where your role as a father can be vital. Although you are not actually giving birth, your role is absolutely key to it all going well. Your partner will be in extreme pain, as well as not thinking very straight while your child is being born, so it is imperative that you try to remain calm.

She will say and do things, some of which may shock you and that you have never seen before, but don’t worry, you have the key tool, to help you both manage during this very highly charged event. Of course the midwife is very important, and will guide you both, but don’t forget the Birth Plan you and your partner decided on. Remember this was formulated in the cold light of day. This should be be your guide book, unless there is a medical emergency, in which case, of course, you must follow the doctor’s advice.

When you were planning for this moment, you and your partner will have decided what pain relief she would use, and so it is very important that you stick to this, despite anything she says during the actual childbirth. She will thank you afterwards, even if in the moment she is screaming at you. At times you will be tempted to throw your carefully thought out plan out the window, because your partner will be so uncomfortable.

When you decided it together, you reassured your partner that you were in this together, and now is when you can prove this to her. She will really appreciate this when you and your new born baby get back home.

 

When should you start setting your child goals?

Setting yourself objectives and understanding that there are rewards when you achieve them, is an important part of growing up. The question is when should you start teaching your child about them.

Sometimes you have to achieve those objectives before someone else manages to. Life is competitive, whether it is at school, or on the football field, or even amongst siblings, so achieving is a vital skill to learn for a young child.

You should start setting your child goals, as soon as she is able to understand the concept of rewards, which is usually once she starts to walk. You can start with little objectives such as eating all her food at supper earns her a nice yoghurt as dessert. Or if she puts all her toys away at the end of each day, she will get an extra five minutes in the bath.

A lot of these initial ones are instinctive for your child, such as walking across the room to get the toy. And it is your role to explain to your child why the reward comes after the effort. This is very relevant as the objectives become more challenging.

As she grows a little older, you will need to make sure that the goals you set her and that she sets herself, are actually achievable. This is very important, as she needs to feel a good sense of achievement, which will give her the confidence in her own ability. She will learn that reaching goals produces benefits, and this will set her up for life.

Everyone benefits if you are a good Father.

The relationship between a father and his children is one of the two most important links in the whole of society. The other one of course is between a mother and her child. The dynamic and contribution of you, as a father with your children, underpins the whole fabric of society.

You may be unsure how to act when your child is born, or if your relationship with your child’s mother breaks down at some point, you may feel you have failed as a father. Well you haven’t, and you remain one of the two most important people in your child’s life. Whatever the circumstances you find yourself in, never give up on your role as a dad.

So many ills in society can be traced back to problems in the family unit, and in particular to poor fatherhood skills, or even an absentee father. So whatever your situation, you must continue to have a strong, loving and guiding influence on your child throughout his entire childhood. Of course, if his mother really loves him, which she does, she will allow you to be the best father possible, even if you don’t live under the same roof.

A  close and loving dynamic will benefit everyone. You, your partner, society in general, and most of all, your child. If you are going to get the most out of being a father, you have to be prepared to take on all the varying tasks it involves, however mundane or interesting, in every aspect of your child’s life. If you do this, it will be the most rewarding thing that you have ever experienced, and will set your child up beautifully to go out into the world and make his own mark in it.

 

Help, I just found out my child is taking drugs!

This is probably every parents nightmare, it is the moment you dread finding out about. But however painful it is for you to accept, you have got to face up to it, confront it and take remedial action immediately. This will not be easy, that’s for sure

For starters, your child will probably try to hide it, even though you already know about it. Then he will probably deny it or try to play it down with comments like, “it’s only cannabis”. Even though he may have tried something more serious such as ecstasy.

So you have to act straight away. Leaving it, even if it is just for one week more, could be allowing your child to slip deeper into the habit. So, what can you do?

Firstly you need to sit your child down in a relaxed environment. This could be at the dinner table one evening, or when you have just finished watching a film together. In any case, you have to find the moment, so think hard how and where you can raise this issue.

Being angry or indignant, won’t help the situation or the action you are going to take, so stay calm and try not to raise your voice. If you lose your cool, your child will clam up and won’t talk openly to you about it. It may already be a problem to get him to open up, so being calm will certainly help you.

Ask open ended questions such as:- “What do you think about drug taking and young people?”, or:- “What do you think the appeal of drugs is to young people?”. These are general questions to start the discussion off. Then you can start asking more direct questions, but always make sure they are open ended.

Tell your child that you know he has tried drugs, and ask him why he has done this? What is the reason he is doing it? Who is he doing this with? It is very rare that he will be doing it on his own at such a young age. Also ask him where he does it? And how does it make him feel?

Once you have started off the discussion, and you start to understand why he is doing it, then you can agree a plan of action. If you feel you cannot resolve the situation on your own, don’t be afraid to consult and take professional advice. It is not a weakness to enlist the help of others who have experience in handling these types of situation with young people. So do seek help.

If you address the issue, you will eventually find a solution, but don’t try to ignore it and hope it will go away. If you act as soon as you find out, you will be able to rescue the situation, however difficult that may be. But you will succeed.

 

 

Have fun with your baby at every opportunity.

Having a baby is not just a case of reproducing you and your partner in mini form. It is a chance to share in every aspect of bringing a new being into the world and playing an integral part in its development. It is also about having fun. This is one of the most important aspects of having a child and just because he is a baby, it doesn’t mean the fun can’t start right from birth.

Even such mundane tasks as changing a nappy can be a fun time together for you and your baby, even though your initial instincts might be one of horror. And it can be a real challenge to change a smelly nappy, and still enjoy doing it!

But once you have got over the initial repulsion, and you become immune to it, after a while you can make the whole experience fun for you both. Once the dirty nappy is off, and before you put a new one on, you can blow bubbles on your baby’s tummy, or tickle his feet. He will love this, and his little smile to you as you do it will be absolutely priceless.

It will be the same at bath time. Once the mundane task of washing him is done, although he may love this too, let him splash you, and watch your facial expressions as you pretend to be shocked and horrified. He will love it….

Am I a Boring Dad to my Children? How do I know if I am, and how do I stop it?

Do your children find you boring? If so, and you will know whether they do, you have to ask yourself why! There is always a risk that parents lose the ability to remain relevant to their children as they are growing up. This becomes particularly acute when your child becomes a teenager. So, the question is, how do you avoid this? Can you avoid it, or is it inevitable?

The answer is yes of course you can avoid this! It just takes effort and commitment, and a real desire on your part. The key to remaining relevant and avoiding becoming boring is to stay interested in what your children do, and become tolerant of their developing tastes.

This isn’t always easy, as their tastes in clothes, music, films and friends can be so different from yours. But you have to try, because if they perceive you as being boring and uninterested in what they do, they will stop communicating with you. The moment they do this, you will become irrelevant to their lives and just a peripheral figure floating around the edge of their existence!

This is to be avoided at all costs, as your children need you perhaps more than at any time in their lives when they become teenagers, as their points of reference are changing so quickly. You become the constant, but you have to adapt with them. But it is possible, so never give up trying …..

Do we learn from the mistakes of our parents with us, or do we just make the same ones with our own children?

When we have children, we have an ideal as to how we want to bring them up. We remember what we liked about our own childhood and what we didn’t like. Then we resolve not to do what we didn’t find very pleasant when we were growing up. Now we have our own children, we believe, and feel able to make informed decisions about how we raise our own children, in relation to how we were brought up, but it is not so simple…..

Times change, and what worked really well for your parents 25 years ago, is sometimes completely irrelevant today. But there are a lot of things that still work today, just as well as they did in years gone by, such as learning to be polite and greet people when you meet. But then it also used to be that children ‘should be seen and not heard’. No longer! And thank goodness. Children can contribute so much to their parents lives, and the interaction between them and you is a vital part of constructing a mutually rewarding and meaningful relationship with them as they grow up.

It used to be acceptable for a child’s mum to do all the work raising him, and a dad would go out and earn the money. Not any more, if you are not involved fully as a dad, then you are really missing out. When you get back from work, or a day away, give your partner a break and immediately get ‘stuck in’ with your child. Play with him, change his nappy, feed him, wind him, or help with his homework, but make sure you do. Don’t be a ‘distant father’, there in thought but not deed….. Always remember, your child needs a fully involved dad like you, just as much as he needs his mum, and he will value that though out his entire life.