Fathers have a connection to their children that they share with no one else, but sometimes dads have trouble coming up with ways to engage with their preschoolers. Regardless of whether they're the primary caretaker, dads need to embrace their role in their children's lives. With simple games, conversations and activities, dads can be ever-present in their preschoolers' minds.
Kids have so much energy, taking them outside is one of the best moves dads can make. Grab a ball, a jump rope, or just some sneakers and head to the park. If you don't feel like bundling your little love up and waiting the billion years it takes a preschooler to actually get into the car? Just go into the backyard. Use trees as hiding spots and hills as cliff sides. Hold races, play catch, even tag and hide-and-seek will work to get that energy run off. Praise your child throughout the activity and get down to her level, teaching her basic skills. Remember, though, this is about fun more than improvement.
While some fathers might feel awkward about wrestling with their kids or swinging them around, so long as you take the proper precautions and don't get too rough, studies show that physically playing with your kids is good for their development. Get down on the floor and let your kids jump on you. Put on some old dance tunes and dance the night away. Have a bed jumping contest, where you're the supervisor and referee. Tackle, tickle, chase and love your kids, indoors or outdoors. Use your imagination. Any dad makes a great pretend monster, shark, alligator or "bad guy" of your kids' choice.
If it's time for a calming moment, sit your child down and read him some of his favorite stories. You can read children's picture books, but don't be afraid at this age to branch out into young adult chapter books like "Harry Potter" or "The Chronicles of Narnia." Your kids will be enthralled in the continuing story, and you might find that story time becomes their favorite time of the day. They'll be asking for more. And if you don't have a book readily available, make one up. Your kids will love a made-up tale just as much, if not more, than print on the page.
Four-year-olds are just getting to the point where they are nimble enough to hold pieces and curious enough to learn basic rules of some games. As long as you keep the pace up, you can keep them engaged for whole minutes at a time. Don't worry about following rules to the letter. If the games are a bit complicated for your children's ages, make up your own. Break out CandyLand or Chutes and Ladders and help them learn while playing. Whether they're improving their logic skills, memory, dexterity or just having fun, you're spending quality time with your little ones, teaching them about family and fun.