Tag Archives: training

Develop Your Kid’s Practical Intelligence

My college roommate and I visited Florence, Italy in the summer of 1990.  After spending one month in London with nearly 200 students from our college, we took the opportunity to do a little sightseeing before heading home.

In the days before cell phones, we purchased phone cards (still used in many parts of the world) to use with pay phones to call home.  In Florence, I checked in with my parents to let them know where we were.

Photo Credit: Despotes via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Despotes via Compfight cc

My mom had some information for me as well.  My LSAT score came in.

She read me the score, and I began to formulate Plan B for my life.  Law school would still be possible, but not very likely.

Looking back at the ebb and flow of my career, I do not regret missing law school one bit.  I did not carry the debt and did not have to work in a meat-grinding law firm to pay it off.

The LSAT, like my SAT to get into college, proved I did not excel at taking tests.  Despite my deficiencies in test taking, I have managed to have a solid professional career.

I do not know if my son will excel at taking tests.  In our educational system, standardized tests continue to set the benchmark (do not get me started) for advancement, graduation, college and graduate school.

But what about helping students develop practical intelligence?  Why do we teach to tests, but not take the time to teach kids how to balance a checkbook?

You and I need to teach the practical.

Photo Credit: Despotes via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Despotes via Compfight cc

You and I need to teach life skills necessary for them to function and to flourish.

You and I need to prepare our kids for the real world.

If you have read this blog for any period of time, you will know I really respect the work Dr. Tim Elmore does.  I recommend you read this article about replacing entitlement with ownership and developing life skills.  Once again, Dr. Elmore nails it!

We dads should seize this great opportunity to help our kids grow and mature.  We naturally instruct and guide our kids with practical, how-to advice.  This list demonstrates just a few of the ways I have tried to develop practical intelligence with my 10-year-old son:

  • Opening doors for others…especially women
  • Making good food choices
  • Shaking hands and having good eye contact
  • Separating laundry
  • Cooking and using spices
  • Making the bed and basic cleaning around the house
  • Saving money and spending money
  • Being polite and respectful

This aspect of fatherhood excites me because the possibilities are endless and limitless.  Certain practical intelligence skills require your kids to hit a certain age, but overall we can instill life skills from an early age forward.

Best of all, I am certain you are already doing it…just take a moment to list what you have already taught, and then make a list of your next lessons.

When did you have a blast teaching your kids a particular life skill?  Which life skill is next on your list to teach?

Effectively Bribing Your Kids (For Their Own Good)

Photo Credit: laurenaweiner via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: laurenaweiner via Compfight cc

Two dollar bills, novelties themselves, seem to do the trick.

A few weeks ago I discussed using the Leadership Design Group’s eight dimensions of life as a baseline for finding balance in my life.  As I have pursued improvement in these dimensions, I find myself wondering how to get my son (and stepsons) thinking about how they develop and mature.

Not one of the four boys in my home even shave yet, so I do not expect any of them to sit down with books by Dale Carnegie, Seth Godin, or Marcus Buckingham.  Your home may have older kids who might read those types of books, but I suspect not.

So what can we, as dads, do to help them take a more holistic view of their lives and their development?

First, we can model it for them.  They see us trying to eat well, get some exercise, study, write, read, engage in healthy relationships, and laugh a lot.  They also see us struggle to eat well, get some exercise, study, write…well, you get the idea.  Bottom line: we talk about being lifetime learners and becoming better even though we do not always get it right or stay disciplined (sometimes we just want to watch a movie).

Second, we can bribe them.  And it might just work.

For the past few years, I have kept all my notes in a series of Moleskine journals.  I do not “journal” on a consistent basis, but I do keep notes/thoughts/observations/ideas in my journals.  It occurred to me I could help the kids start a journaling habit while encouraging them to consume some quality content, not just Minecraft videos on YouTube and The Maze Runner book series.

So, I made a few kid-friendly modifications to the descriptions for LDG’s eight dimensions, printed them out, and taped them into the front cover of their own personal journals.  Then, we all sat down and I explained the concept of our lives having multiple dimensions and how we need to pay attention to all aspects of our lives as we grow and mature.

Then came the bribe.

I told them they did not have to do this at all, but if any of them wanted to pick out one of the eight dimensions and let me pick out a book, article, or video for them to consume, I would pay them $2 to do it and write down a few sentences in their journal about it.  As an added bonus, I would discuss the content and their observations about it at no charge.

The results have been mixed.

The two 10-year-olds seem kind of excited to learn something new and get paid to do it.

Just yesterday, my youngest stepson asked about putting money in the bank.  So, I told him we could parle this conversation into a journal entry.  Together we watched a short video on compounding interest, we discussed it, he asked several questions, and then wrote down a few sentences about what he learned.  And he did not hesitate to take “Jefferson” out of my hands.

Only one of the boys has not taken me up on the offer, but he just sat in on the compounding interest lesson, so he may not be far off.

The idea of being able to pick out lessons, stories, or videos (TED talks can be very effective…especially with older kids) from sources you trust is only eclipsed by the ability to generate a positive conversation between you and your kids while letting an “expert” be the one to provide the lesson/lecture.  It gives you the opportunity to agree with a trusted figure rather than lecture.

We all know how much kids like lectures from parents.

I would love your feedback about this idea, and I would also appreciate suggestions about great content for kids related to their growth and development.

“Ts” Of Single Fatherhood – Train

Growing up, my dad trained Brittany Spaniels.  We used them for hunting quail and he competed with them in AKC field trials.  Over the years, we ended up with several national champions and I have rich memories of spending weeks each summer in the White Mountains of Arizona for the trials and countless quail hunting trips.

Photo Credit: vishnubhagat123 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: vishnubhagat123 via Compfight cc

Young bird dogs go through a time of “breaking” where they learn to stay still when a bird flushes from a bush.  As you can imagine, when a bird takes flight, the dog would really like to chase it and catch it.  However, the handler wants the dog to stand still so he can safely take aim and shoot the bird…and not the dog.

We used repetition to train the young dogs.  We also used shock collars to break them from chasing the birds.  Don’t worry, this did not harm the dogs or lead to them needing therapy.

Kids present an entirely different paradigm related to training.  We not only want to “break” our kids of bad habits and rude behavior, but we want to train them in a way that brings out the uniqueness of each of them and encourage them to flourish.  How do we do this?

Generally, moms excel in areas dealing with hygiene, manners, gift-wrapping, and empathy.

Dads usually do a great job training in physical activity, lighting fireworks and right-brained stuff.

Our job, as single dads, requires us to cover all the bases.  And we are not allowed to use shock collars when our kid uses bad manners at the dinner table.

So, how can we set ourselves up to train our kids well?

Seek input from moms.  Find a “mom” who has frequent interactions with your kids and ask them to give honest input about what training they need.  Others notice little things, and some big things, we may have no clue about.  Thank them for the input and seek training tips.

Engage kids in everyday tasks and special chores.  Giving our kids responsibility and compensation will help train them.  I appreciate the context Dave Ramsey puts this in – some behaviors are essential to just being part of the family (clearing your plate, picking up clothes, and other age-appropriate tasks), and others deserve compensation (or a “commission”).  This will both feel a part of the family unit and train them to act responsibly whether they get paid or not.

Consider outside training.  Occasionally, my dad would send a dog off with a professional trainer for specialized instruction.  For our kids, we have Junior Achievement, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, team sports (sportsmanship, playing with others), and many others.  Often, what we have told our kids for months will finally sink in when another adult gives the same instruction.  Frustrating, but a reality.  You and I did it, too!

 What has been the hardest thing to train your kid(s) to do?

Single Fatherhood And The Letter “T”

This past week will stand out in my memory.  Had a great time with my son on Veterans Day, went on a business trip with a favorite client, saw many old friends, made new friends, and got engaged on Saturday.

So, technically, I will not qualify as a full-time dad much longer.  But this blog will continue as long as I can provide content of value to you.  Plus, every post seems to help me (and some married dads) parent a little better – remind me of some things forgotten or neglected.

Photo Credit: B Tal via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: B Tal via Compfight cc

Reserving the right to interrupt the upcoming series should something pertinent come along, I plan to take the next several weeks to address what I call the T’s of single fatherhood.  Yes, they can apply to all fathers, but we face some unique challenges and have some incredible opportunities I would like to explore with respect to these words:

  • Time
  • Touch
  • Teach
  • Train
  • Talk
  • Truth
  • Trust
  • Therapy
  • Thank
  • Thrive
  • Transform
  • Tailor

I look forward to a great conversation ahead – please join me.

Do you have a suggested “T” word to add to this list?