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Mindful Parenting: Building a Stronger Bond with Your Kids

Updated: Feb 21


a father with his kids

There is a catastrophe that isn’t brought up in daily conversation: mindless parenting. It’s so prevalent in today's culture that nobody thinks twice about it happening. 


Just go to a park, sit on a bench for a while, and watch as tons of dads play (not really) with their kids with one hand while invested in the device glued to the other hand. Some of these men make it worse by giving their children half their attention and calling it a “good time at the park” when they get home.  


Fathers need to be present with their kids as much as possible. This mindful parenting is what fosters a child to be successful as they grow. 

According to A Father's Place, when fathers are invested in their kids' lives, the children are 2 times more likely to go to college, 80% less likely to spend time in jail, and 75% less likely to experience teen pregnancy.


It may not come naturally to every father, but here are seven invaluable routines you can implement every day to become better at this.





a man writing on a note pad

1. Plan ahead


Plan ahead so you can get your priority tasks done before you spend time with your kid. This allows you to be fully engaged. This means planning out your day-to-day so that tasks can get done without, or minimally, affecting quality time with your child. 


Family activity

While you should plan to set aside daily quality time with your little one, planning one day a week that is set aside for a bigger family activity (a trip to the zoo, a family outing to the bookstore, eating at a restaurant) also gives everyone something to look forward to during the week and offers the opportunity to provide a higher degree of bonding.


Priorities

Planning ahead will also show where your priorities are. If you’re willing to go out of your way to spend time with your child by waking up early to get tasks done, they will eventually notice as they get older and respect you more for it. It won't be immediate, but in time, they will be able to share those memories and what you did for them.





a man on his phone

2. Turn off all screens


Being present means as few distractions as possible. In order to have quality time with your son/daughter, it would be beneficial to either turn your phone off or put it on silent so that you will be fully engaged in the activity. You can also grab a small bin, put your phone in, and then place the bin somewhere in the room–away from you–to externally show that you plan to be present. Using a small bin can be beneficial in case of emergencies. 


Builds discipline

There are multiple benefits for your child when you put your phone away which aren’t always obvious. First, it builds discipline for your young one. If you don’t have a screen around, then neither should he, so it makes your time together more intentional.


Builds trust

Second, it builds trust and a sense of security within the relationship. Your child can trust that they have your undivided attention and will feel more secure sharing things with you he might not share if you’re always looking at your phone. How would you feel if you tried opening up to someone and they checked their phone in the middle of your conversation? 


Proves love

Third, it shows your kid he means more to you than what’s on your phone/device. Whether it is games, news, or social media, putting your phone away is an external way to prove your love for him and take his time seriously instead of wasting his time by only being half involved.





a father on the water with his son

3. Share hobbies


Being a father doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change your hobbies, just find a way to include your child. In fact, it will mean more to your son/daughter that you’re sharing a part of yourself. 


If a hobby isn’t suited for your kid–too dangerous, complicated, etc.–then you might consider either changing hobbies or finding an extra activity in which you can involve her. Otherwise, keep doing what you're doing. 


Teachable moments

Sharing hobbies provides tons of teachable moments, whether it’s how to overcome a particular fear or even just learning more about specific bugs, trees, exercises, etc. You become more of an authority figure by how knowledgeable you are and that authority increases exponentially every time you spend time with him/her. Will he/she always listen? No, absolutely not. But, respect will start to be earned. 


Teamwork

Teamwork is a critical part of sharing hobbies with your kid. You both have to work together for them to learn something new, especially for them to get better. This will help all their relationships grow because your child will start to understand the value of teamwork. 





a father reading to his kid

4. Create a bedtime routine


Starting a bedtime routine is vital to being present with your kid. The more automated your routine becomes, the more you can enjoy the moment. 


Determine how long you want your bedtime routine to last and do your best to stick to that length of time. My bedtime routine for my toddler is roughly 90 minutes. Here is our process:


  • Bath time

  • Brush teeth

  • Put on PJ’s

  • She picks 5 books to read (and, yes, we do read them)

  • Potty

  • Get in bed

  • I sing 3 songs

  • Go potty (again)

  • I sing 1 song

  • I play a game where I open her bedroom door wide, then close it halfway, and any variation between.

  • I leave, and she goes to sleep. 


Now, it takes roughly 90 minutes because sometimes it takes her what feels like an hour just to do any one of those items on the routine list—ever heard a toddler use the phrase “One more”? HA! It can seem like there are eight “last time” songs with her! 





a family making a pizza

5. Quality Mealtime


Having the whole family eat around the table seems as though it has turned into a myth in today’s time, something that happened “back in the day”. Well, if you decide to make this a priority, it’s something that will have a lasting effect. 


Family Stability

Prioritizing quality mealtime establishes family stability by having another routine. It’s something that, done day after day, will create an expectation in the mind of your child to have some kind of daily interaction with family, as long as no screens are present. In fact, if done daily, it will feel weird if a family mealtime is skipped or missed. No matter how subtle that feeling is, it will be there. An established routine has that much impact on youth. 


Try new things

Quality mealtime encourages kids to try new things, you guessed it, by having them actually try new foods or ways to cook. If you are a person who cooks, encourage your young one to join you and learn how to make pasta.


Let them throw that spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks! That’s a great memory and story for your child to have to bring to school the next day. 


Share stories

Use your family dinner to share stories, discuss the day, and connect with each other. This is an excellent opportunity to be present and attentive to each other’s needs. Ask them their favorite part of the day, the worst part of the day, and a part where they accomplished something. Allow time for reflection. This gives you great insight into who they are and who they are becoming. Don't forget to share your reflections as well. 





a kid doing chores

6. Be fully present in chores


Involving your child in chores doesn’t mean having them do their own while you do yours. You can do it that way, but it won’t be much fun for anyone. 


Share chores

Instead, do all the chores together. If you’re cleaning the house, for example, have your son clean in the same room with you so you can talk, laugh, and make cleaning enjoyable for not only him but you as well. You can even have competitions on who can clean their side of the room faster. 


This is where you dominate the competition to prove you’re Dad and your son can’t beat you. After dominating, show him teamwork by helping him finish half of the room, or just sit on your side of the room sipping a drink in all your glory watching second place finish his chores. 


It can be fun

Your little one will also see that chores can be fun which translates to work can be fun. See what happened there? Your kid will start to understand that, while work must be done, there are ways of having fun while doing something that might not be inherently fun.





a kid climbing an obstacle course

7. Active play


A great way to bond with your child is to play with him/her. Whether it’s a sport, board games, or imaginative play, actively participating in their activities not only fosters a sense of connection but also allows you to encourage, support, guide, and sometimes push him/her when needed. 


Lead by example

It is always heartwarming to see a dad at a park leading by example, no matter how silly it is. The sillier, the better. Watching the joy on their kid’s face is priceless. 


Does the dad look funny when he’s racing his son on a spring-rider car that he is clearly too big to fit in? Yes! And that is the point! If you look at his son, there’s a joy on his face that cannot be taken away until he loses that spring-rider race with a fake banana peel thrown by the dad as if in an actual Mario Kart race.


Sports

Practicing a sport with your kid is also a great way to bond with them. Create a challenge to see who can run the drill faster, catch more balls, jump farther, etc. Then, find a way to measure that outcome and see if it can be beaten the next time you practice with your child. This allows you to practice and possibly work out with your son/daughter, which gives you an added benefit. 





a man deciding between two paths

A decision must be made


There are two offers on the table. One appears to be easy, self-fulfilling, and will bring disappointment to your child. The other is challenging, selfless, and rewarding. 


Mindless parenting

Mindless parenting is a trap that will serve as a hamster wheel, a never-ending cycle, that is difficult to get out of if you get caught up in it. Yet, it is so easy to step inside the wheel and get going; just turn your phone on and start scrolling. 


What nobody talks about is the regret that you and your little one will feel in the future. Regret for not being present with your child. It will also bring disappointment. His/her will be filled with “what-ifs” and tons of “I wish..” years later into adulthood. 


Mindful parenting

Mindful parenting brings about rewards that will last generations. As Mother Teresa said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” 


This is a selfless act that will not go unnoticed in the future when you’re at your table talking about memories with your (now adult) child. Will it be talked about how he could count on everyone being at the table for dinner every night? Maybe how fishing every weekend with you was his favorite childhood memory? Or even how you made chores fun by racing him to make the room the cleanest? It might surprise you what all he remembers. 


So, will you sacrifice now in order for your child to have a brighter future, or will you give into all those temptations to do self-fulfilling tasks? The choice is yours. 

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