Dads, here are 15 simple things your kids want from you. As it turns out, these little things are actually the biggest things of all.
1. Hang out in the garage. Invite your children to see and hear about what you're building or repairing, and let them help. The job may take longer but you will make their day.
2. Dance with your children. It doesn't matter if you can't dance. Sway side to side, spin in a circle, jump up and down. Listening to music together creates healthy family bonds and shapes positive memories.
3. Stick to a routine. Have regular special times together every day, such as: make and eat porridge together every morning, meet up for lunch, help them get dressed, or brush teeth together at night.
4. Ask questions. Ask about school, their friends, what they're worried about, what they're looking forward to. If they share a problem do not try to fix it – they really just want you to listen. Otherwise, try gently nudging them in the direction of a solution.
5. Teach the rules. Next time you're watching a game on TV, explain the rules to your child. You'll probably end up with a friend to watch the next game with.
6. Leave messages. Words from your heart mean the world to your child. Regularly surprise your children with notes in their lunch box or sticky notes on their bathroom mirror. Tell a joke, relate what you admire about them, or just say "I love you."
7. Read out loud. They're never too old for this – a bed-time story in their younger years or taking turns reading when they're older.
8. Surprise your children. Come home early from work when you can. Take the day or the morning off work to do something fun with your kids, even if it's just once a year.
9. Bring your children to work. Show them your desk, where you fill up your coffee, and the meeting room where you have your weekly staff meetings. Tell them what you do all day when you're away from them.
10. Tell stories. Your children love to hear simple stories from when you were a child. Also, tell stories about when they were younger.
11. Go outside. After work, play outside together before dinner for a few minutes. Some suggestions are looking for bugs together, play catch or kick-to-kick, or take a quick bike ride around the block.
12. Make dinner. Pick a night and make dinner with your children – ask them to help pick what to eat and if they help make it they are bound to eat it too.
13. Look through family photos. Spend an evening reliving your vacations, their first steps and birthday parties.
14. Show up. To concerts, ball games, dance recitals, and school open days. Whatever their hobbies or interests are, be there.
15. Hug them whenever possible. You cannot get too many hugs from your dad, especially quality hugs that last over six seconds. For older children try working up from high-fives to hugs. •