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3 Ways to Get Your Kids Going in the Morning

All Pro Dad | February 18, 2021

What’s your kid’s bedtime routine? Unless it’s one of those hectic nights, ours includes a bath or shower, a glass of milk if they’re hungry (which they always are and milk works to fill them up but not wind them up), brushed teeth, reading, prayer, and a tuck-in.

We all know bedtime routines are important, but having a morning routine for kids could be the solution to some of their a.m. issues. Whether they learn from home or have to make it to school by the time the bell rings, these 3 simple routines will help them get moving and set their day up for success.

But first, why take time to transition from sleep?

Imagine rolling out of bed and being expected to be at work 20 minutes later, ready to perform. It would be impossible. It’s not fair to expect your kids to turn off the alarm and be in learning mode right away. A transition, done with consistency, can make a huge difference. Here are those 3 ideas to get you started.

1. Eat a good breakfast.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. and start making batter from scratch. Got milk? Got cereal? Boom. Think back to breakfasts when you were a kid. A big bowl of cereal with the colored milk waiting to be slurped up at the end is one of the joys of childhood. {TWEET THIS}

One of the other proven benefits of milk is that it keeps you fuller longer. Whether your kids are learning at home or in the classroom, a grumbling belly is a big distraction. Transitioning in the morning with a glass of milk and a bowl of cereal will help them gain focus and keep it longer. And a big bonus: Real milk also provides nine essential nutrients including B-12 for energy and calcium for strong bones and teeth.

2. Read together.

One morning I noticed that everything that came out of my mouth after “good morning” was an order. Get up. Get up (again!). Put your clothes on. Come eat. Tie your shoes. And those orders kept increasing in intensity and volume. Yes, it’s the nature of the beast, but I can’t imagine an effective morning routine for kids starts with getting bossed around for 30 minutes straight.

Reading together will get their brains into thinking mode. One trick I often use is wrapping up our nighttime reading with a cliffhanger. Come morning they get out of bed because they’re eager to hear where the story goes. Are you asking, “Who has time to read in the morning?” Try audiobooks. Cue it up and let them listen for 10 minutes after their alarm goes off while you’re pouring that milk and cereal.

3. Dress for success.

One of my coworkers who has worked from home since before COVID gets fully dressed in professional attire, even on days without video calls. It helps flip the switch from home to work. It will do the same for your kids.

Think about those lazy Sundays when the whole family stays in your pajamas all day. You naturally feel sleepy and don’t want to move. Have the kids pick out outfits and brush their hair. If you do brick-and-mortar school, they probably don’t wear pajamas to class, but they might need to shower to fully wash off the sleepiness.

Sound off: What do you do in the morning to help your kids get going?

The post 3 Ways to Get Your Kids Going in the Morning appeared first on All Pro Dad.

4 Ways Every Dad Needs to Be Intentional

Andrew Linder | February 05, 2021

When my kids were young, one of the highlights of my day was playing with them at night. But as a father of four, sometimes being a fun dad exhausted me. Working hard to provide for a family is also a tiring task. So by the end of the day, my kids wanted me to serve my “second shift” at home. Between work’s demands and my family’s needs, I had to learn how to be an intentional dad.

Over time, I realized there’s a difference between having good intentions and actually being intentional with my kids. Here here are 4 practical ways to be intentional with yours.

1. Give TIME to your kids before they ask for it.

If your kids are anything like mine, they are constantly asking for your time. “Dad, can you play basketball with me? Want to throw the football in the back yard? Can you help me with my homework?” Kids love spending time with their fathers. And why shouldn’t they? In your efforts to be a “yes” parent, learn to offer your time to your kids before they ask for it. “Want to play some basketball or throw the football around?” “Do you have any questions about your homework that I can help you with?” Seek to give time to your kids freely and intentionally rather than reluctantly.

2. Don’t avoid tough CONVERSATIONS (or easy ones).

One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is availability to talk.

Intentional dads don’t look to get out of conversations with their kids but instead, look for opportunities to talk with them. Kids naturally have a lot of thoughts running through their minds and issues to process mentally and emotionally. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is availability to talk. Better yet, use intentional questions to tap into your child’s thoughts and feelings. “What have you seen or heard about this specific topic?” or “What’s the biggest struggle you’re facing right now and what can I do to help?”

3. Create space for ENGAGEMENT with your child’s heart.

Every child is different, so finding ways to creatively and personally connect with a kid takes intentional effort and awareness. What are some of your child’s current interests or needs? While my son might need me to spend time with him in the back yard or playing his favorite video game, my teenage daughter may need me to engage positively with her social media memes and videos. Whatever it is, dads must figure out how to intentionally create space for such engagement.

4. Provide ACCOUNTABILITY for your kids.

Kids have never had as much access to the world around them as they do today. And never before have they had less accountability. But children need that and they need male leadership. Dads can and should purposely provide both. This not only includes what your kids are doing with their devices (know passwords, monitor device time, activate filters, and so on), but also accountability with their friends, their attitudes, and their choices. Holding your kids accountable to your rules and expectations doesn’t make you a bad dad; it makes you an intentional one.

Sound off: What would you suggest to a man who wants to learn how to be an intentional dad?

The post 4 Ways Every Dad Needs to Be Intentional appeared first on All Pro Dad.

5 Ways to Take the Awkward Out of ‘The Talk’

All Pro Dad | February 05, 2021

When I was in fourth grade, my mother had “The Talk” with me. Out of nowhere, she asked me to sit down with her as she read me a very awkward book. It was the only conversation of this nature I ever had with my parents. You can probably guess where I went to further my sex education.

Now that I have my own kids and have worked with countless students over the years, I’ve realized: While “the talk” is difficult and awkward, we still need to have it. And we definitely need to have more than one talk with each of our kids. But here are 5 ways to make each talk less awkward.

1. Keep it casual.

You set the tone for how these conversations go. As I was putting my 10-year-old son to bed the other night, he complained about his knees and wrists hurting. I said, “You’re probably going through a growth spurt and getting ready to start puberty.” He asked, “What’s puberty?!” I told him his body is going to start changing, that it’s a normal part of life, that we would have more conversations about it over time—and that I would help him along the way. If you work this topic into conversation casually all the time, it’ll be much less weird for your kid when you sit down to have more formal talks. It won’t be the first time your kid hears you say the words you’ll say.

2. Pick the right moments for the talk.

Hard conversations are better when they’re set up well. When I followed up with my son, I took him out to his favorite restaurant. Prior, I told him I wanted to ask some questions about how he’s feeling and if he had “felt” any other things. I reminded him there’s nothing he can ask that’s off-limits, no topics he can’t talk about. At the restaurant, I asked a lot of questions: “Have you seen anything on the internet or heard anything from your friends about puberty or sex? Do you feel alone or think it’s weird to talk about these things? How can I help you make future conversations like this easier?” Prepping him in advance and having a fun night out made this the right moment to connect and have this conversation.

3. Be direct.

When you talk to your kids about sex, don’t use slang words for body parts, be ambiguous, or chuckle at their questions. Remember, you are informing them. They want to be informed. And you want to be the first to educate your kids on this topic. It’s best for them to hear about sex from you first. When you’re direct, you keep the conversation flowing and help your kids feel safe. When they feel safe and can trust that you’re going to be honest and clear, they’re more apt to come to you in the future if they have questions or need help.

4. Use a journal.

If face-to-face conversations are difficult or you’re anticipating some topics surrounding sex to be more challenging, introduce a journal. Let your child know you want to write to him or her and will ask a question in the journal. Ask your child to write you back within a week and tell him or her to ask you any question at all in the journal, too. If your kid writes something you truly want to discuss face to face, write back with your first thoughts and then add this: “But can you and I sit down soon to discuss in person? I promise it’ll be a great conversation.” A journal can be an excellent tool to keep conversations about sex and other challenging topics going.

5. Thank your kid for talking about the “difficult” stuff.

When we do have conversations about sex, dating, or relationships with our kids, let’s not take our kids for granted. A great way to affirm and encourage them is to thank them for taking the time to talk to you about these important topics. When we got home from dinner, I told my son I am extremely proud of him and that it means a lot to me that he would hang with and talk to me. He gave me a huge hug and said, “Thank you, Dad. I’m so glad I can talk to you about these things.” That’s what we all want to hear. So keep those conversations flowing and don’t fear the talk.

Sound off: When have you found it’s best to have the more challenging talks with your kids?

The post 5 Ways to Take the Awkward Out of ‘The Talk’ appeared first on All Pro Dad.

4 Things to Model to Kids During Racial and Civil Unrest

Benjamin Watson | January 25, 2021

Last year, the United States had racial and civil unrest—again. As Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd’s tragedies unfolded, and the protests and riots followed, it felt like we had been through this many times, because we have been. When these sorts of events take place on a national scale, we all experience deep emotions as we navigate what has occurred and the implications it carries. I remember crying and feeling extreme sadness, followed by anger mixed with several moments of hope. So how do we change things?

In justice, legislation is a necessary, non-negotiable component of ensuring equity, protection, and punishment. But the human heart is an even more powerful force in creating the holistic, lasting change many of us truly desire. We need to look in the mirror and change because our kids are watching our every move and listening to our every word. All of us have improvements to make in race relations. We need to bring our most mature selves to the conversation and be willing to learn and grow. Our kids need to see us humbly model the very best. Here are 4 things to model to our kids during racial and civil unrest.

Love

Love is a decision to seek the best for another person.

Love is a decision to seek the best for another person. We need to think about other people first. If we continue to react selfishly, nothing will ever change. This takes maturity and strength. How do you love people during racial and social unrest? Are you caring for others or are you more concerned with being right and solidifying your side?

Lament

This means to mourn, grieve, or be distressed. When the race problem reveals itself, we need to take time to sit in it collectively. Too often, we want to give quick solutions and move on. We need to feel the weight of the situation, the context, the pain, and the tears of those around us. People who are protesting or experiencing injustice are in pain. How much time do you take to feel the pain with them?

Listen

We need to be willing to listen to every side, especially a perspective that is different from yours. If we just listen to our own side, we will become more separated from one another. Read, discover, and understand ideas that may be unfamiliar. Also, there are countless children’s books that not only offer an education about the people, places, and events that have been important in the journey to racial equality in America but also utilize characters from different ethnicities and backgrounds. Share them with your children.

Lead

Every time there is an incident, you have an opportunity to lead. No matter what, do what is right by others and model it for your children. Maybe there’s a need for you to admit where you’ve been wrong in word or deed—an opportunity to courageously live in a different direction on this issue. Standing for what is right may be scary and lonely at times. It may mean having uncomfortable disagreements with people you care about. Lead your children and others by being willing to step out ahead of the culture in loving, lamenting, and listening.

Sound off: Which of these do you need to work on and why?

The post 4 Things to Model to Kids During Racial and Civil Unrest appeared first on All Pro Dad.

3 Ways to Grow Your Child’s Good Character

BJ Foster | January 13, 2021

In the late 1930s, as segregation ruled the south, a Black father took his son to a shoe store. Upon entering, they found two open seats near the front. Immediately, the store clerk told them he would give them service when they moved to the back of the store. The dad said the seats they found were fine. When the clerk told them that they’d have to move, the dad said, “We’ll either buy shoes sitting here or we won’t buy shoes at all.” He took his son by the hand and angrily left the store, muttering, “I don’t care how long I live in this system; I will never accept it.” His son remarked years later that his father refused to adjust to a system that was wrong. His dad helped mold his conscience. That son was Martin Luther King, Jr.

As dads, we play a powerful role in molding and developing the good character of our children. In order to do that, we have to be present in their lives. They need to see us model character as well as discuss it. All Pro Dad Chapters are among the best places to do both. Here are 3 ways attending or starting an All Pro Dad Chapter will help you mold your children’s good character.

We are our kids’ number one supporters and we need to show that support consistently.

1. Affirmation

Kids need affirmation from their dad. When a child receives encouragement and approval from their dad, it gives them firm footing to stand on. They are given permission to be themselves and hold to their convictions. We are our kids’ number one supporters and we need to show that support consistently.

Meeting the Need: At each All Pro Dad Chapter meeting, dads have the opportunity to express to other dads and kids why they are proud of their child.

2. Guidance

Modeling character is one of the best ways to pass values on to your children. However, our kids need to be able to discuss character qualities, to have them communicated clearly, and to have them instilled by a person they deeply admire. When modeling and discussing character qualities happens consistently, there is a greater chance your children will absorb them.

Meeting the Need: Each All Pro Dad Chapter meeting covers a character trait for you to discuss with your child. It includes definitions, real-life examples, questions for you to ask at the meeting, and questions to take home to continue the conversation.

3. Belonging

Kids need to feel like they belong in order to have confidence. Feeling like they belong improves kids’ mental health and security and gives them a strong sense of identity. Having belonging enables children to trust and believe in the values they are being raised with.

Meeting the Need: All Pro Dad Chapters give kids a feeling of belonging through time with their dad each month and meeting together with other dads and kids.

Sound off: How are you currently molding your child’s character?

The post 3 Ways to Grow Your Child’s Good Character appeared first on All Pro Dad.

The Most Important 10 Seconds in Conversations with Kids

All Pro Dad | December 18, 2020

“Dad, can I tell you something?” How did the last difficult conversation go with your kid? Hard conversations with kids can be extremely tricky. But did you know you can make or break your conversations with kids in the first 10 seconds of them?

We give our kids a “first impression” every time they come to us with a difficult question, problem, or failure. As dads, we have a great opportunity to convey patience, love, and understanding in our conversations with kids. Here are 3 reasons the first 10 seconds of any conversation with your kids are the most important.

1. The first 10 seconds communicate whether you are for or against them.

Your reaction in the first 10 seconds of a conversation tells your son or daughter whether you are a safe person to talk to. As dads, we must realize our kids may have taken days to weeks mustering up the courage to talk to us. No matter what your kids may say, thank them for trusting you enough to share it. You can even encourage them by saying, “That must have taken courage to tell me. I’m proud of you.”

When our kids hear these statements, it nurtures trust. It’s human nature not to want to disappoint or anger someone. If, however, our kids find that we’re patient and understanding when that happens, we communicate this: “You’re not a problem, I want to understand your situation, and I want to help you.”

2. The first 10 seconds can set the conversation up for success.

Think about it: Have you ever been intimidated to talk to someone and worried about what he or she will think? Meeting our kids with patience, love, and a desire to understand in those first 10 seconds gives them confidence and allows them to speak freely. Many times, our kids will “test” us by only sharing what they think we want to hear or what won’t sound so bad. However, when we’re patient, we put them at ease and open up the lines of communication.

When our kids ask to tell us something, our first response should be, “Always!” Then, when our kids begin to tell us what’s on their minds, we should use responses like, “Tell me more!” or “I’m glad you told me that. Thank you for sharing that with me.” Give your kids confidence in those first 10 seconds so they can communicate clearly and openly and you can understand their entire situation.

3. The first 10 seconds determine whether future conversations happen.

We should do everything we can to get our kids to run to us instead of away when they need help.

I’m very confident the vast majority of us want our kids running to us when they have problems or mess up. We want them to believe we’re going to support and help them through whatever situation or circumstances they find themselves in. If in these first 10 seconds they have a poor experience or we convey we’re angry with them or don’t have the time for them, they may eventually think to themselves, “Yeah, Dad’s not for me. I better get help somewhere else.” Or worse, they’ll think they can’t get help at all.

But when we remain calm and express our love for our kids no matter what they tell us, they learn we’re always there for them and want them to talk to us. As dads, we should do everything we can to get our kids to run to us instead of away when they need help. Conversations with our kids will be difficult from time to time, but we can instill trust and confidence and foster better communication with how we spend the first 10 seconds.

Need some conversation starters to use with your kids? iMOM has 1000+.

Sound off: What do you believe helps foster open communication with your kids the most?

The post The Most Important 10 Seconds in Conversations with Kids appeared first on All Pro Dad.