The ABCs of Love – Dads with Pre-teen Kids

ages & stages treeAre you a Dad feeling a little awkward saying “I love you” to your fast-growing pre-teen (aged 9 to 13 years old)?

Fret no more! Let Dads for Life share some quick tips that will make it seem as easy as ABCs. You just need to remember your Alphabet!

  • Angle

– See things from the child’s angle and perspective. Show that Dad understands issues and concerns faced by Junior.

  • Blackout

– Have a black-out period where Dad blocks out appointment slots to spend one-on-one time with Junior. Devote full attention to him.

  • Choose

– Choose the battles. Don’t sweat the small stuff or over-fuss. Try not to let Junior feel a constant need to spar with Dad over mundane, unimportant matters. Divert energy instead to purposeful discussions.

  • Do

– Work on a home project, play board games, fix model aeroplanes or even cook! Doing things together allows Dad and Junior to learn more about each other’s styles, personalities, strengths and weaknesses.

  • Exercise

– Keep fit and fabulous. Exercise together and regularly. Work out, release endorphins and feel good as a team!

  • Friends

– Learn to befriend Junior. Friends have a greater capacity to connect, care and share. Be best friends forever!

  • Gadget

– IT-savvy Dads should watch their “addiction” to technological gadgets. Keep those hands off the smart phone or tablet – pay more attention to the pre-teen at home!

  • Happy

– Take a hot shower to rid fatigue after work. Being refreshed, happy and open around Junior shows that you value his company.

  • I Love You

– Say it as it is! The straightforward declaration – “I LOVE YOU!” – will go a long, long way, always!

  • Journal

– Keep a simple journal. Jot down thoughts about a certain gesture by Junior that touched, or mattered to, Dad. Let him read it to gain a better understanding of what goes on in Dad’s mind.

  • Know

– Know what makes your pre-teen tick. Friends are an important part of Junior’s life. Be pro-active and get to know them to better understand what matters to him.

  • Learn

– Be humble and open to learn from Junior – adults are not always right. Children are often good teachers, unknowingly imparting life lessons to parents.

  • Memories

– Give Junior as many good childhood memories as possible. Let him have a rich memory bank to dig into, for reminiscence.

  • Notes

– Drop Junior a memo. For example, a gentle reminder to help Dad run an errand or of the upcoming weekend soccer date. Personal notes are like an on-going inner conversation between two connected persons.

  • Open

– Keep communication channels wide and open. Openly count the family’s blessings – let Junior know that he, surely, is one of them!

  • Pat

– Give Junior a good, generous pat on his back whenever he deserves it. Don’t be stingy on praises for effort and encouragement for improvements made!

  • Quota

– There is no quota or limit for the number of love “bytes” a Dad can “download” to fill up the emotional love tank of his pre-teen. A child who is loved by family, learns to love himself, show care and concern for others, creating a multiplier effect in his community.

  • Receptive

– Be receptive to a pre-teen’s thoughts and contributions. By not prematurely writing Junior’s ideas off, a Dad demonstrates he values his opinions and views.

  • Surprise

– Surprise Junior occasionally with an unusual gift (not necessarily an expensive one), a spontaneous outing or an extraordinary experience that he did not quite expect. Be fun-loving!

  • Trust

– Have confidence in Junior’s ability to solve problems. It sends a message of the level of trust and faith Dad has in him.

  • Unique

– Understand that each child is unique and accept him for who he is. Strive to see and bring out the best in him.

  • Vicariously

– Do not attempt to live or fulfill Dad’s own dream “vicariously” through Junior. Let the pre-teen engage and flourish in what he is skilled at or interested in.

  • Welcome

– Always welcome Junior home. Offer the family home as a sanctuary for him, one which he would always feel safe in and keen to return to, no matter what mistakes he might have made outside the family home.

  • Xemplify

– Show Junior how it is done. Bark not instructions. Don’t smoke, drink or gamble; kick bad habits. A Dad who exemplifies values he holds, communicates love and care for the well-being of his pre-teen.

  • Yearn

– Whatever a Dad would have yearned or wished from his own father (be it a characteristic trait, a memory or an experience), he ought to be mindful to do that very same thing for his pre-teen.

  • Zero

– The best gift and legacy a Dad can give to his pre-teen? Walk and live a meaningful, fathering path with zero regrets!


About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.


First published on 22-07-2013.

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Categories: 4 Dads of Pre-teens, Ages and Stages

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