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It's the little things that matter most

In this video, Family Share's own Kid Therapist shares some simple ways to be a better dad. It's worth noting that buying fancy gifts or giving into your child's every whim isn't mentioned. In a relationship with your child, it's the little things that matter most. Here are 20 kid-approved ways to become a better dad today.

1. Turn off your phone. Give your family your undivided attention. Ask yourself if the call, email, text or game level really needs to be handled right now. If it doesn't, ignore it.

2. Get on the floor. You don't need to be the big, tall, towering dad all of the time. Get down and engage with your child at his level. You can't put Legos together or play with action figures from way up there.

3. Go outside. Get some exercise and fresh air with your kids. You'll all feel more relaxed. Plus, Mom doesn't like roughhousing or throwing balls in the living room.

4. Drink from tiny tea cups. You only get about one swallow per serving, but it will taste so much sweeter. Your little girl thinks pouring is the best part anyway. Be sure to use your very fanciest manners.

5. Play dress up. Whether it's a crown or a cape, wear it with pride. Be flattered your daughter sees you as a prince, and your son considers you a super hero.

6. Sleep on the ground. Give up your comfortable bed for a little bonding time. Camp out in the backyard or on the family room floor.

7. Make something. Build a birdhouse or bake some cookies. It's always more fun when you do it together.

8. Let him help. It may take twice as long, but you'll be teaching your child valuable skills as you let him help you in the yard, garage or the office. Someday, he'll be out on his own, and he'll need a few skills and a good work ethic.

9. Teach him how. Grilling, golfing, gardening, whistling really loud ...What are you good at? Pass that knowledge on to your son or daughter.

10. Say, "Yes." Parents are experts at saying no. Practice saying yes. This may mean staying up late, going to a movie, shooting water guns, eating ice cream or building a fort. It generally involves some time or sugar. It may also include making a mess. But it's worth the look on her face when she hears the magic word.

11. Write a note. Many dads have a hard time saying they say love and are proud of their kids. Not only say it, write it. Then, your child will have written proof he means everything to you.

12. Read a book. In my experience, kids love bedtime stories even more when Dad reads them. If your child is too old to be tucked in, read the same book your child is reading. She'll love to discuss every detail with you.

13. Spend one-on-one time. Having Dad all to yourself is a treat. It doesn't have to be a big activity. Kids even love just running errands with Dad. (Especially if you stop for a treat.)

14. Leave work at work. Forget about your job when you walk through the door. That not only means refusing to answer work-related calls, but leaving the stress of work behind. If you've had a bad day, take a few deep breaths in the car. Don't go in and snap at your family.

15. Work with your child. The best leaders don't just order people around but roll up their sleeves and work together. Help with chores and homework. Your kids will appreciate it and will be more likely to respond when you ask them to do something.

16. Make eye contact. This is a simple thing, but lets your child know they are important.

17. Really listen. When you don't listen you miss important things. Perhaps you're not as interested in dinosaurs as your preschooler, or don't care what your teen daughter's friend wore to school today. But listening goes a long way towards building a good relationship. Your child will be more likely to share with you the things that matter when you take time to really listen to the things that don't.

18. Tell him why. Your children don't have your life experience. If you say no, share the reason. It may be as simple as inconveniencing others in a way your child didn't think about. It may be hard to explain, and you might have to share personal information with your child. But, if you explain your reasoning you'll build trust and respect with your child.

19. Say thank you. This common courtesy can mean the world coming from you. Whether you're thanking him for something big or small, it lets your child know you value his contribution to your family.

20. Give hugs. No explanation needed.



Megan Wallgren is a freelance writer and mother of four energetic children. She blogs about how to wear them out at kinetickids.blogspot.com.

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