Teaching Life Skills to your Teenager is vital if they are to avoid potential problems when they are older. It is your role as a Dad to do this.

This is one of the most important things you can do as the father of a teenager. Lead by example: work hard, be nice to people, be consistent, respect others and their opinions, and be honest with yourself and your children (as well as others). Your child will be observing you very closely, although he may very often appear not to care at all what you are saying or doing.

As a Father with a teenager, you need to continue to pass on your life skills (only the good ones of course, even if your teenager quite likes some of your bad ones). These cover a wide variety of areas, such as social interaction with others, management of finances and the need to work hard to achieve things in life.

An area that is very often ignored by parents is the development of personal Financial Management skills. This is absolutely vital for your child to learn as this life skill could have very serious implications and even ruin your child’s life when he is older, if he doesn’t know how to manage this. The importance of grasping an understanding first and then managing this area of his life is a key life discipline.

You will need to make a real effort to teach your child this skill and it should start when he becomes a teenager, if not before. He will by now be receiving pocket money from you, to buy the personal things he wants, some of which he cannot afford. You need to discuss with him about the concept of working to earn money, then budgeting and managing how to balance his immediate need with what he can afford. He needs to understand that he must save a portion of his weekly money until he has sufficient funds to buy that special purchase he wants. This is a very important message to get over to him, as it is very dangerous and potentially disastrous if he doesn’t understand this concept when he becomes an adult.

Your child will already have an idea of what he is good at and what he isn’t, and your job is to guide and encourage him. Always respond positively and always encourage him. This will give him belief in what he can achieve. You also need to be a realist in terms of his ambitions, while at the same time never stifling his dreams. This is a very difficult balancing act to do, particularly as nearly all teenagers are full of self-doubt, not to mention the mood swings. If you get this balancing act right however, you will launch your child into life with a very positive attitude, but if you get it wrong, it will make this transition from childhood to adulthood much more challenging for both of you.

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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……

If your Toddler is tired, he will sleep through anything, so you don’t need to worry.

Bedtime can be a stressful time for you, but you don’t really need to worry, as once you have got your Toddler into bed, if he is tired, he will go to sleep. You don’t need to close his door either. Many children can be afraid of the dark for no reason at all. Therefore, it will be reassuring for him if he wakes up in the middle of the night and doesn’t feel cut off from the rest of the family. Pitch blackness can be very intimidating and scary for a young child.

In any case, most young children do not need complete darkness or silence to sleep. When they are tired, they will sleep anywhere, even in bright sunlight in a noisy store or park. How many times have you seen a small child fast asleep in his parent’s arms or a pram, in the middle of the day? Leaving his door open can also be a good discipline for later on in life. It may well help keep your child with an ‘open’ attitude to you and others as he grows older. It should help avoid him trying to always close himself off in his bedroom when he is a teenager and distancing himself or becoming aloof from the rest of the family. It’s amazing how something as simple and unscientific as this, can help promote good habits, later on in life. And these habits die very hard in later years.

Children don’t need silence to sleep. Young children sleep if they are tired, and if they are not, then they won’t go to sleep. It can be reassuring for your Toddler to hear normal family background noise when he goes to sleep, so he does not feel cut off at bed time. It also means that your family can continue its normal household (sometimes noisy) routines in the evening. It is very important for your child’s development that he is raised in as normal household environment as possible. It goes without saying that normality is relative and based on your particular religion and culture. You will also feel less stressed as you will not be trying to keep other children quiet or keeping the general level of noise down.

A little night light in the background, particularly when your child is very young, will also help prevent him becoming afraid of the dark. Because he has this light on, as he grows older, darkness should never become an issue for him.

How do you stop any ‘Emotional Distance’ growing between you and your child?

In years gone by father’s didn’t show their emotions like mothers did. Boys had to follow in their footsteps and show the ‘British Stiff Upper Lip’. Girls were considered different from boys and allowed to show their emotions. Yet life is full of emotion no matter what sex you are. Whether it is happiness or sadness, elation or despair, you should never be afraid to show your emotions as a father. Children need to know that their father experiences the same type of emotions that they do.

They also need to be able to see you showing those emotions. This will demonstrate to them that this is completely normal behaviour. The last thing you want to do with your child is to build barriers to communication. So by being open with your emotions, it prevents any subconscious mental barriers being constructed within the vital relationship between you as a father and your child.

It is also important to be very tactile with your children, they need physical contact with you as their father just as much as they do with their mother. A strong tactile relationship will strengthen the emotional bond between the two of you. A kiss goodnight, or a reassuring hug when your child is upset or unsure about something will reinforce that emotional bond immeasurably, irrespective of what age she is, 2 or 22.

For a child, at the beginning, it is totally normal that this should happen, after all, you are her father. You are one of the two most important people in her life and you should remain as that until she starts her own life with her own partner and has children of her own. Even then that bond will never be lost. If you have created a relationship built on substance, respect and love, it will last a lifetime.

What should you do if your baby is under the weather, and you can’t get his temperature down?

If your baby has a temperature and is a little under the weather, the temptation is to ensure that he doesn’t get cold sweats and keep him well wrapped up. If you do this, his temperature will keep rising. Wrapping him up will make him even hotter and make matters a lot worse.

It seems crazy now, but we did that with our oldest child and couldn’t understand why his temperature was getting higher and higher. The first time this happened, it was very stressful for us, as we just couldn’t reduce his temperature. Eventually we called the hospital in a panic and got some very sound advice which thankfully worked really well. We put it into practice immediately and the effect was almost instantaneous. Every time any of our children ever got a temperature from then onwards, we just followed this simple advice.

So, if your child has a temperature which is proving difficult to reduce, you can use a moist cloth or flannel to dab his forehead, neck and body. This will start to cool those parts of his body specifically and his body in general and will help bring it down. You can even use a fan if you have one, as a cool breeze will also help to reduce it. While doing this, leave him without any clothes on, apart from his nappy, so his whole body can benefit from the cooling down measures you are using. Of course, the strategic use of a children’s paracetamol medicine mixture should help as well.

However, sometimes it is more serious and all these measures fail and you make no progress in bringing it down. If this happens, then you should of course seek medical assistance immediately.

How can you as a Dad, improve the general quality of life at home when you have a demanding Toddler tiring your partner out? It is possible and there is a special benefit as well!

This is always a challenge for young parents when you have Toddlers in the household, but a little extra effort can reap dividends for you both. Even if you are exhausted when you arrive home from work, and you feel you don’t have enough energy to have a little playtime with your child, force yourself to make that extra special effort.

Always say hello to your child, wherever he is in the house and listen attentively to what he has to say to you about his day. It will be time very well spent. He will always want to greet you when you have been away, even if only for a few hours and he will remember the effort you have made for him for many years to come.

It will also give your partner a break, which she will really appreciate and recognise the effort you have made. Even though she knows you are very tired from being out all day, the fact that you have made that special effort to relieve her, will help improve your relationship together. It will give her instant relief from the pressure of children, and it will definitely improve your sex life.

This may seem like a wild claim, but as she will be far more relaxed when she goes to bed, it will definitely be more rewarding than if she is exhausted. It’s a bit like knocking over a set of dominoes. You relieve the pressure on her, she spends time on herself, she relaxes, you get tired from playing with your Toddler, you need relaxing, she spends time on you, you feel better, she feels better……it’s a win/win situation……

How do you keep young children amused on long car journeys?

How often have you been on your way somewhere and been delayed by traffic, or it has taken much longer than you thought to get there? Or even just been on a long car journey and your children have got bored and started playing up? This is a regular occurrence for all parents with young children and can be the most irritating and frustrating time as you are all cooped up inside the car. So, the answer is distraction and playing games with your children.

There are two types of games you can play in the car, educational and plain simply amusing. If you sometimes struggle for ideas, particularly if you are frustrated as your children are playing up, and still having to concentrate on the road, why don’t you write down a list of games that can be played when the pressure starts to build. This can be kept in the car at all times, and then referred to when needed. It will be easier than trying to think of potential games to play when you are stressed out.

Some ideas of games are:

The ‘snooker game’. Ask you children to spot coloured cars in the order that the coloured balls are played in a game of snooker. So white is first, then red, then yellow etc. If you want it to last longer, then you can put another white in front of each colour.

Spotting makes of cars, or trucks, or vans. This is easy as you can pick popular ones, or if you want the game to last longer, you can pick rarer models.

Reciting the ‘Times tables’. Depending on the age of your children you can give them a time limit for reciting them properly and a little reward when you reach your destination if they get them all right.

‘Capital Cities of the world’. Depending on your child’s age, you can ask them the Capital city of England or Scotland, and progress to more difficult countries as they get a bit older and learn more. It is amazing how quickly they will retain this information.

Sing songs which start between two defined points on the road. It starts when you pass a certain landmark and must finish exactly as you pass the next. You will be surprised how precise your child can be. You can sing nursery rhymes, or popular songs, but let your child select the song.

Everyone, except the driver, writes a sentence on a piece of paper, then folds it so no-one else can see what is written apart from the last word, then the next person writes their own sentence. After everyone has had two turns, someone in the car reads out what has been written. Everyone will laugh for sure with what results.

You will also have your own ideas for games, and so your this list can be as long as you like, but do keep it in your car. It will definitely help you manage and keep your cool when you find yourself under pressure with your children in traffic.

 

 

Routine for your child at bedtime will make everyone’s life easier.

When you have children, it really is a full time job, so anything that can make things run smoother and more efficiently has to be welcomed. This seems such a simple thing, that you can actually forget it, but actually this really works, particularly if you introduce it from a very early age.

Regulate bedtimes from an early age, right up to the age of 16 which should be, as a guideline, 10.00pm. 15 Minutes extra should be given for every birthday reached. For example at age 4, your child’s bedtime should be 7.00 pm, or at 13, it will have progressed to 9.15pm. Start this as soon as he goes to school, when he is 4 or 5 years old. By doing this from such an early age and sticking to it rigorously, bedtimes and going to bed will never become a controversial issue. It is considered non-negotiable as it has always been like that throughout your child’s life, so as a result he will comply without question.

Once you have established this routine in your child’s life, introducing a system of giving him 15 minutes warning before bedtime will make your life even easier. This pre-warns him and will allow him to finish the game he is playing, or the TV program he is watching and be ready to go to bed on time. This way, he will not argue with you once his bedtime has arrived.

Of course, another benefit for you and your partner, is that you will always know that you can relax and have some quality time together every night, at a certain time in the evening, once your child has gone to bed.

What can you do to make your Toddler understand that she mustn’t be rude? There is a very effective strategy.

It is normal that your Toddler behaves badly when she doesn’t get her own way, but it can be very frustrating for you and her mother. How often does it appear that she is just winding you both up more and more until you are at breaking point. You just want to shout at her or even smack  her to get her to behave. Of course this might work in the short term, but it won’t be a solution in the long term and will not help her understand that her behaviour is not acceptable.

You might say that if you shouldn’t shout at her, what can you do? It is a little like with a Teenager, withdrawing privileges will often work, particularly if it is something your child really loves. Maybe you go to the park on Saturday afternoons and she is able to go and play on the swings, or you go to the children’s farm once a month where she can see all the animals. This will certainly work, but there is also another strategy which has a more immediate effect and works very well.

Your Toddler will certainly have a favourite cuddly toy, who she always sleeps with and who she loves completely. If she is rude and aggressive with you, or her sibling, you can take away her cuddly toy. You can explain to her that if she behaves like that, her cuddly toy has told you that he doesn’t want to stay in her room. He doesn’t want to spend time with a ‘nasty’ girl, who isn’t nice to people.

She will soon learn that she has to behave properly and after a few occasions of doing this, you will find that her behaviour will change. Of course, then you will have to overcome the next challenge and we all know, there are plenty of them with Toddlers!

Does your child need complete darkness and silence to go to and stay asleep?

When you put your Toddler to bed at night, do you always make sure he is in complete darkness and everyone in the house is quiet? If this is what you do, have you asked yourself why do you do it? It is a complete myth that a young child needs total silence in order to go to sleep. If he is tired, he will sleep and if he is not, he won’t. It really is as simple as that.

Additionally, how many times have you seen a young child fast asleep in his parents arms in bright sunshine and outdoors? Many times I’m sure.

So when you put your child to bed, you don’t need to close the door. In fact, if you do that from an early age, you may even start creating a fear of the dark for later years. With his door open, if he does wake up in the night, he can hear the rest of the family and any general household background noise and this will be reassuring for him. If you can leave a small night light in his room, or maybe the bathroom light on, it will be even better.

This may even help him in later life and encourage him, when he is a teenager, to leave his bedroom door open and not close himself away for hours on end. If doors have always been open since he was a baby, it will not be so natural for him to always keep it shut. This way, he may become less insular and distanced from the rest of the family during this challenging period of his life.

Something as simple as an open door at bedtime when your child is a Toddler, can really help promote good habits when he is older and these good habits die very hard in later years.