Wednesday, August 14, 2013

5 Ways to grow a smart Kid

As Dads, we have more impact than we think.   Traditionally fathers have been seen as a necessary evil for procreation and financial support, but new research is pointing out the importance the father displays in the development of the child.   This does nothing to take away from the dedication and hard work put in by Mom.  Without moms in the world, we would have chaos and roving bands of lunatics.  Moms are extremely important but so are dads, just in different, more subtle, ways.  While not an exhaustive list, hopefully some of these items will help level up in fatherhood.

1 Respect your Children's Mother

I am lucky enough to be in a happy committed marriage, but this advice is true for divorced parents as well.   Basically, by showing respect for your child's mother, you are showing your son how to treat women.  If you are blessed with a daughter you are showing her how she should expect to be treated by a boyfriend or a husband.

A mother who is appreciated and respected is a more effective/confident mother---and when mama is happy everyone's happy!

2 Spend time with your Kids

It might be hard to believe, but just spending time with your kids will improve their IQ and test scores.   However, sitting and watching tv doesn't count.  You have to actively spend time with your kids and get involved in their daily lives.

3 Affirm your children

Basically make sure your kids know you love them and will care for them at all costs.   Fathers easily fall into the habit of only affirming their kids in performance based ways: "good job," "you look pretty," or "way to go".  Subconsciously our kids hear that the only time dad loves me is when I please him.  This is never our intention we always love our kids.   My wife and I tell our son "We may not always like what you do, but we will always love you". Find your warm affirming words and really mean it.  Kids are great lie detectors and instinctively know when you are just saying stuff and when you really mean what you say.

Affirmation makes for self confident kids, and self confidence allows children to think outside the box and take chances.  Sure IQ is important, but smart guarded kids are not risk takers or entrepreneurs.  Kids with both intelligence and confidence can turn into adults with the world knocking on their doors.  

4 Foster Creativity
Going one step further to foster an innovative and creative spirit is the necessary key to making smart kids. Find things you want to learn and learn with your kids. Learn scratch programming or jump into hardware hacking with an Arduino or Rasberry Pi.   If you are an expert in either of these try to forget and see things through your kids eyes.  You will be surprised by what you can learn from your kids point of view.

5 Play Games
When our kids are really young, dads get to be kids again playing with Legos and pla- doh.  When they get a little older we get to teach them to count with monopoly and strategy with chess.  A good source of modern table games, usually for older kids/teens is watching tabletop.  
A section on games would not be nerdy enough unless I mention Minecraft.  I believe this is one of the greatest video games dads can play with their kids, girl or boy.   Set up a LAN party and invite all of your kids sun deprived friends over.   If all goes well your kids can have a good time cooperatively building, and the best is when one of them begins griefiing,  The parental opportunities are endless..

Conclusion As I said in the opening, these are subtle impacts, but they are important. In this  Telegraph article, it mentions that these can have definable effects well into your children's 40's.   Even though they are subtle they are powerful.   As father's we can never expect to play Mom's role as well as she can and we should not expect her to fill our role either.  All to often men try to compete with Mom and, when they can't, they just drop out.   What we should remember is that this is not a competition. It is a collaboration.   If both parents engage and do their part we can grow a generation of happy well adjusted kids.