If being a dad is the most important thing to a man,then what he says to his son has to be done with the vision to shape and inspire.
I have been blessed with a 6-year-old son and 3-year old daughter. Nothing I am doing in life is more important to me than being a good dad.
However, with kids there is no rest for the weary. Life is always a rush due to their extra activities, baseball, basketball, football, piano lessons, dance lessons, birth day parties, and the list can go on and on. Typically, my wife and I have to divide and conquer just to keep up with pace. Can you relate?
Sometimes the days can be stressful.
This day was no different. My wife and daughter stayed at home to get ready for an evening event. My son (Brayden) and I were en route to his friend’s birthday party and as usual short on time. To make things worse, we still had to buy a gift for the party.
Brayden was aware of the time constraint because of my commanding tone at the store, “Son, hop on the buggy, so we can hurry up.” This is our process when we are rushing. He hops on the end of the buggy and rides, so I can speed walk. Nevertheless, we got a toy. We were finally on our way.
Once back in the truck, I fired up the GPS app on my iPhone, making sure to keep a close eye on the clock. Kids birthday parties don’t last long. Show up late and you might miss most of the fun. All of a sudden, Brayden starts with the questions. It is amazing how many questions kids can come up with.
Son: Dad, how do you know when to turn next?
Me: (showed him my iPhone) Look near the top of the phone. What do you think?
He looked for several seconds and pointed at my screen.
Son: You follow that number!
Me: (stunned that he got it right) Good job, buddy! You are right; we turn on 16th street.
Son: So, how do you know where 16th street is?
Me: You look for the sign. I’ll show you when we get to it.
As we were approaching the sign, I quizzed him again. I showed him my iPhone and asked.
Me: Where does it tell us the street?
Son: (he pointed at the correct area) 16th street.
Me: You the man, buddy! Good job. Now, look at the signs coming up and tell me if you see our street.
He read all the signs and identified 16th. We made the turn and were on our way!
Our dialogue was a great illustration on how a dad should never miss a coaching moment, even when making a mad scramble to get a birthday party on time. Here are the coaching tips I’ve developed from moments like these:
- Ask questions to make a person think. Rather than quickly answering my son’s question, I challenged him back by showing him the iPhone and asking him to make an educated guess. The several seconds he took to scan the GPS was when the true learning was taking place. I gave him a chance to think. There was real processing going on in that 6-year old brain of his. If I had quickly provided the answers, the coaching would have not been as powerful.
- Celebrate the small wins. Every time he answered correctly, I congratulated him with excitement in my voice. This made him feel good about learning something new. More importantly, it was building his confidence. Positive reinforcement works wonders with kids, it also works well with your co-workers. Give it a try!
- Continue to expand knowledge. Once Brayden learned to identify the turning points on the GPS, I took it a step further by coaching him on how to find the street signs on the road. He was open for learning at the moment by engaging me with the original question. I embraced the opportunity to keep coaching while he was ready.
- Follow up soon after to learn if the new knowledge was retained. Rather than waiting for months to pass, I tested his learned knowledge a few days later. Always find opportunities to follow up. The sooner, the better.
- Always make time to coach. We were in a rush. I would be lying if I did not admit I was feeling the pressure of being late. I didn’t want to be that dad who walks in with his kid after everyone else has been there. Rather than brushing off his inquisitiveness by telling him the moment was not a good time for me since we were rushing, I embraced the opportunity.
By the way, we made it the party on time – to the minute. What can I say? Other than, I had a great co-pilot!