Carlos is glued to his big flat screen. He is eating chips and using the feature that lets him watch football and soccer at the same time. Suddenly, his two-year-old son loses interest and needs some attention.
“Juanita!” he yells in the general direction of the kitchen, “you need to do something with Manuel!”
No, Carlos. Juanita is up to her eyeballs in cooking and laundry. You’re the one who needs to do something with Manuel. You need to know how to bond with your toddler. You need to know how to be be a good father to your toddler. And it doesn’t involve sports on the big screen. Maybe you identify with Carlos. Here are some ideas on how to be a good father to a toddler:
1. Spend more time on the floor.
Seriously. You can’t father a toddler standing up. Not in the areas where it counts. Eye level and full contact. There are no compromises with a two-year-old.
2. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears.
Focus. We’ve heard it about sports, and it is critical in parenting. Toddlers don’t just demand attention, they actually need the no holds barred immersion of dad. They just do.
3. Turn off the television.
Learning is all about interaction. You are so much better than a big flat screen. While you’re ditching the TV, lose the battery-operated toys too. Why play with a car that go’s “toot” when your toddler could make the same noise? Why digital replication when the two of you can use your imaginations? That goes for you too, Dad. Put away the smartphone, the tablet, the pager, and the “hands-free” device. Get into those blocks with Junior, along with the wooden puzzles and the big cars. Imagination is the word, and you are the stimulus.
4. Be all in.
You know what we mean. Parenting isn’t a mother exclusive job at any age. [Tweet This] Make sure your toddler knows you as a complete participant, rather than an occasional visitor. Read to him. Play with her. Bath him. Change her diaper. Feed them. Take them shopping with you. Be the parent.
5. Volunteer in the two-year-old class at the “Y” or your local faith community.
There is so much we can learn from everyone else — our spouse, our friends, and the community. Get involved. To do is to learn is to do.
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Huddle Up Question
Huddle Up: Talk with your wife over dinner tonight. Tell her you want to be more proactive as a dad, then discuss whatever she mentions without being defensive.