7 Ways Dads Can Be More Present & Attentive (Tips From A Dad)

Daaaad! You’re ALWAYS too tired to play!

DAD! You NEVER jump with me on the trampoline!

Sound familiar?

My son shouted this at me the other day. I’ve been a bit sick the last two weeks (just low on energy), so I’ve been guilty of saying no too many times.

Truth is – I OFTEN jump with him. The last couple of weeks have just been crazy.

That said, I have been slacking a bit. I haven’t been as involved as I normally am, and he picks that up really quickly.

So, I’ve decided on a few things.

I Will Say Yes Every Day (At Least Once)

It’s humanly impossible to say ‘yes’ every time our kids ask us to play with them.

But it’s not impossible to allow them to stop us at least once every day.

In our family, it’s typically the trampoline he’ll ask about.

He LOVES when Daddy joins him on the trampoline. Even if I’m tired and cannot follow his pace, he always lights up when we “jump”.

This is a “yes” that I know makes him feel special. It’s one way we can spend quality time together – even if it’s just 5 minutes before dinner.

No Computers Around When It’s Family Time

This definitely doesn’t happen every day. But it’s our goal.

I feel like I have to re-learn this “rule” every month. It just slides so quickly.

Putting our phones and computers away means so much. It’s SOO easy to get drawn to the screens when they’re within reach.

Let’s wait with screen time for Dad (and Mom) till our kids are in bed!

These are my best tips on how to put the screens away:

READ: How To Lose Phones & Laptops (around our kids)

Eye-Contact and Smile

This is how we first bond with our babies when they are newborns.

Research shows that eye-contact and facial expressions are how warmth in a relationship is developed.

This is also the beginning of communication in small babies – when we RESPOND – with smiling, cooing, and eye contact.

We must still do this for our older kids, and it’s so important that we do (without the cooing, of course!).

It helps our kids feel acknowledged.

If we are in the middle of something important (and I mean genuine importance), we can still respond to our kids even if we can’t give full attention right away.

For example,

  • “I hear you bud; I just need 5 more minutes to finish this email, then I’m all yours.”
  • Or, “I want to play with you too, but I can’t right now. Let’s play after dinner!”

Silent Communicating

As much as we love the title “Dad”, if we’re honest when we hear “Dad, Daaaaad, DAD” on repeat, it can be pretty annoying.

Kids crave our attention.

And if they feel they need to demand it, they will do anything to get it – even if it’s negative attention… Like when we get irritated with them.

A clever tip we picked up is ‘silent communicating’.

  1. When your kid has something to say, teach them to quietly and gently place their hand on your shoulder, hip or knee.
    • This gesture lets Dad know that kid needs him.
  2. If you are busy talking or working on the computer, you can gently place your hand over your kid’s hand.
    • This signal lets your kid know that you acknowledge them and will be with them in a moment.

This has helped me maintain my concentration for a few minutes longer on the task I am busy with, and my boy is learning the discipline of not interrupting.

You must respond with your full attention within a few minutes for this to be effective.

This can save a lot of shouting from the kids… and dad.

Family Traditions

Special family traditions are a powerful way of establishing a sense of identity and security in our kids.

Family traditions can be significant ways to spend time together as a family. These could be religious or cultural practices or traditions passed down from your great-grandparents.

These special practices could range from Christmas dinners to affectionate nicknames.

But you can start new traditions too!

  • Pancakes on a Sunday morning (together as a family).
  • Crazy Breakfasts for birthdays. Kids love it when we break the rules every now and again – why not have M&Ms and scrambled eggs for breakfast?! 😉
  • A secret handshake for school drop-offs.

Use Words To Celebrate Your Kid

Words are one of the best ways to show our kids that we notice and celebrate them.

This is how we can give positive attention to our kids.

  • “You worked really hard at school today – I saw you got a sticker! I am so proud of you.”
  • “Coach told me you were so helpful after soccer practice today. That’s great teamwork.”

Pro-Dad Tip: Physical affection is equally important – hug their shoulders as you praise them or squeeze their hand at school drop-off.

Dad And Kid Dates

There is an incredible book by Gary Chapman called “The Five Love Languages“.

Two of the “love languages” are words of affirmation and physical touch (mentioned above). And another is quality time.

If you are struggling with being attentive at home, why not schedule dedicated daddy and kid time?

Put it on your calendar and consider it as important as a business meeting with a CEO!

In my family, we try to have time just for dad and son and time just for mom and son. This is outside of regular day-to-day activities.

  • A trip to the beach
  • Build a fort in the garden
  • Make milkshakes together
  • Go to the movies

You can read more ideas for special Daddy and Daughter time in my blog post.

P.S. I highly recommend reading this book – it’s a game-changer!

Thanks for reading.

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