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What to Do After a Dad Fail

Tony Dungy | May 04, 2021

What do you do when you have failed as a parent? We seem to know exactly what we want our kids to do. The question is: Are we holding ourselves to the same standard? The last thing we want to do is lose the respect of our kids. Sometimes we think defending our actions at all costs is the way to go.

But in my experience, your kids will respect and love you more if after you fail as a dad, you do this instead.

It’s important to know and understand when we cause pain, so we don’t repeat the same mistakes in the future.

Understand the Mistake

The first thing we need to do is think about it. We need to understand the mistake we made and how it impacted our kids. It’s important to know and understand when we cause pain, so we don’t repeat the same mistakes in the future.

Apologize and Repent

Second, we have to admit to our kids what we did wrong. If you’ve done something wrong, talk to your kids about it. Say, “As your dad, I did something wrong. Please forgive me. I am going to try my best not to do that again.”

Doing those things will go a long way. Not many of us are willing to say that to our kids. I have been in the wrong many times and I haven’t said it enough. But that is the best attitude to have in those situations and will set the best example.

Sound off: What do you do when you do something wrong to your kids?

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8 Things Every Kid Should Know by Age 8

Frank Brennan | April 19, 2021

In middle school, I read the book Johnny Tremain, about an arrogant kid living during the American Revolution. Only through a physical injury and a caring mentor does he learn real virtues like humility and self-control. The book’s morals remain with me today as I still remember my battle with youthful pride. I didn’t know some of the things every kid should know.

If I had learned them when I was a kid, I would have been better prepared for some unexpected challenges. Fortunately, as dads, we have the chance to teach these valuable virtues to our children. Kids form habits young, so we better invest time to instill them now. Here are 8 things every kid should know by age 8.

1. How to Be Patient

I know that teaching a kid to be patient is exhausting. But without patience, our children will grow up demanding immediate attention, results, or change. Life doesn’t work that way. Instead, give your kids opportunities to be patient while providing them with the tools to succeed. Let them feel time pass by having them count down to something. I saw Mr. Rogers do this on TV by making kids feel how long a minute takes using an egg timer.

2. How to Be Flexible

If we don’t instill flexibility in our children when they are young, it will result in frustration when things don’t go their way. Always add room for flexibility. Have your kids plan out a “Day with Dad,” and then look it over to throw a curveball into the planning. Ask them, “What if it rains when going to the park?” or “What if the ice cream shop is closed?” Things don’t have to go as planned to be fun.

3. How to Be Orderly

Without learning how to be orderly, kids could grow up into adults who always show up late and have messy offices and disorganized thoughts. I have been fortunate to have a daughter who likes to see things done in a specific order. So we started using a “daily checklist” with her. It helped reinforce a habit of orderliness.

4. How to Build Integrity

Integrity is about doing what is right even when no one is watching you.

Integrity is about doing what is right even when no one is watching you. Teaching integrity takes trust. You have to earn this trust with your kids so they feel like they can tell you when they make a mistake. Don’t judge or yell, but thank them for sharing. Ask how they can do better next time and tell them to inform you when they do. At a young age, kids need positive reinforcement to build integrity into a habit.

5. How to Be Empathetic

Empathy is a necessary virtue for kids because it teaches them to value other people. If they can respect others, they hopefully won’t participate in gossip or bullying. Maybe they will stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Get them involved in service projects. Have your child pick a toy to donate, pull out canned food from your pantry, or draw a picture for another child in need. 

6. How to Be Loyal

Kids need to learn loyalty because it teaches them how to keep promises. It is about sticking with commitments. Do not allow your kids to quit sports, dance, or chess club because they think it is too hard. They must stick with it for however long they committed to discover what loyalty means. If they quit everything young, they may want to quit everything when they get older. 

7. How to Be Accountable

We don’t have to look far to see adults blaming other people for their mistakes; just read any story in the news. Our children must learn to take responsibility for their actions. Accountability is a crucial virtue to teach at this age because it is harder to do bad things to themselves or others when someone is watching. Teach your child to take ownership of their mistakes. 

8. How to Sacrifice

Lastly, every child must learn how to sacrifice because it teaches self-control. Can they offer their favorite dessert to a schoolmate who forgot their lunch that day? Can they sacrifice their desire to watch a movie when their sibling just wants to play with them? Explain to your children that a person’s character is defined by what they are willing to sacrifice for a greater purpose.

Sound off: What are some other things every kid should know by age 8?

The post 8 Things Every Kid Should Know by Age 8 appeared first on All Pro Dad.

4 Things We Teach Kids When We Say “Don’t Tell Your Mother”

Matt Haviland | April 19, 2021

“Don’t tell your mother.” We’ve all been there, especially in a silly but special moment with our children. Maybe it’s while eating a couple bites of ice cream—right out of the container. Or perhaps you and the kids are planning a special surprise for her. Fun stuff that produces great memories.

But when we use those words scandalously or to cover our own tracks, we have crossed the line. By trying to protect ourselves, we actually harm our sons and daughters by teaching them the wrong lessons. We must shut it down before it even gets to that point. Pause and think about what the long-term outcomes could be if we follow through. Here are 4 bad things we teach our kids when we say “don’t tell your mother.”

1. Lying is OK.

Covering up the truth when we are guilty is the same as lying. It builds a false sense of security and models unhealthy personality traits. Lying weighs us down because we must keep at it in order to avoid being caught. We would expect our kids to fess up, so why wouldn’t we hold ourselves to the same standard? As fathers, we are responsible for setting the tone in our children’s lives for the way we want them to live. Admitting our faults and telling the truth can produce uncomfortable repercussions. It can also create a strong and honorable character. When we forgo lying and tell the truth instead, we provide our children with hope and confidence for them to do the same.

2. You can manipulate others to protect yourself.

When we say “don’t tell your mother” to our kids, we are manipulating them. We are abusing parental authority to get something we want. This takes advantage of their innocence. Unaware of our selfishness, the kids go along with it because Dad said so. This also conveys a message that if they don’t obey, consequences may follow. The children are being taught that this sort of action, if done skillfully, can serve one’s purposes. It sets them up to follow suit as adults.

3. Mom’s authority is conditional.

When one parent undercuts the authority of the other, chaos in the home follows.

When one parent undercuts the authority of the other, chaos in the home follows. This sort of behavior not only pits kids against parents, but it also divides dads and moms. One of a father’s primary responsibilities is to teach his children to honor and respect their mother. Allowing children to get away with something Mom has clearly forbidden teaches them to disrespect her. It exemplifies how to withhold information from her or that when she’s not around, different rules apply. None of this is acceptable.

4. You value your own comfort over that of your child’s.

I once told my daughter that if she ever screws up, I’d rather hear it from her immediately than find out later from someone else. I promised her that though I may be disappointed, the punishment will be far less if she takes ownership. The same principle should apply to us as parents. Perhaps your son or daughter knows a secret you are deceptively withholding from your wife. Are you taking the burden of your secret off of your shoulders and unfairly placing it onto your child’s? If so, reverse course. When fathers model responsibility and leadership, we set our children up for success in school, in relationships, and, eventually, in the workforce.

Sound off: How are you doing with being transparent with your family?

The post 4 Things We Teach Kids When We Say “Don’t Tell Your Mother” appeared first on All Pro Dad.

5 Times Never to Say No to Your Kids

Joe Landi | March 10, 2021

Recently, I’ve found myself saying no far too often to my kids’ requests. The other day, I was in a hurry, trying to make breakfast for our family on a Saturday. Normally, I would let my 4-year-old daughter help me stir the pancake mix. But when she asked to help, I said, “No, honey. Let me get this done.” She sat with tears in her eyes wondering why I would refuse her help. I realized in that moment that it might be time to stop saying no.

I want to be a “Yes Dad,” to figure out ways to encourage and support my kids when they have questions or make simple requests. Of course, sometimes, you have to postpone your yes. It won’t be a no—it’ll be a “Yes, at 5 p.m., when my workday ends.” And then be sure to show up at 5 to do whatever you agreed to do. Here are 5 times never to say no to your kids.

1. When they ask, “Can you play with me?”

It’s time to stop saying no when the kids ask to play. My son and daughter ask me this question almost daily. It’s usually when I first get home from work and I’m often very tired. However, I know there’s a day coming when they won’t be asking me to play with them anymore. I want them to remember I said yes to simply playing and being with them. Playing with our kids on their level is good for so many reasons, especially communication and relationship building.

2. When they ask, “Can you help me?”

I have to confess that sometimes when my kids ask me for help, I get a little impatient and annoyed. I’m learning to realize this is a blessing. I want my kids running to me for help no matter what, even when they’re older. Of course, when helping them, I want to encourage them to become independent and grow. But I never want to give the impression that they’re bothering me by asking for help.

3. When they ask, “Can you lay down with me?”

Bedtime can be one of the sweetest moments of the day with your kids—if we stop saying no when they ask this question. My kids often ask if I will lay with them for a few moments when I tuck them in. I have found that both of them open up to deeper conversations more when I do this than in most other times of the day. Now, if you have teenagers, they aren’t going to ask you to lay down with them, but believe me—they’ll sometimes finally feel like talking when the day’s about to end. Let them. You’ll want to go to bed. Don’t. Take advantage of whatever chance they give you to connect.

4. When they ask, “Can I help you?”

I like to do home projects. Better yet, I like to get home projects done efficiently and quickly, so when my kids ask me if they can help me, I generally used to hesitate or say no. However, I’m starting to realize that if I want to teach my kids to serve and help others I have to encourage them to help at home. This could be with a house project, cooking a meal, cutting the grass. For the most part, they just want to be with you anyway.

When our kids ask if they can talk to us, our immediate answer shouldn’t just be “yes,” but “always!”

5. When they ask, “Can I talk to you?”

When our kids ask if they can talk to us, our immediate answer shouldn’t just be “yes,” but “always!”  Especially when they get older, drop what you’re doing and stop to listen and engage with them. Often, when our kids come to us asking to talk, it’s because what they want to discuss is extremely important to them and they need our encouragement, support, or help.

Now that you know when to stop saying no, check out the times that “no” is the right answer.

Sound off: Did your parents say yes or no when you asked these questions as a kid? How did their answers affect you?

The post 5 Times Never to Say No to Your Kids appeared first on All Pro Dad.

3 Weaknesses Your Kids Should Embrace

Timothy Diehl | March 10, 2021

One of the most important questions I’ve ever been asked is, “What are you afraid of?” I hate this question. It’s uncomfortable. After all, to admit to being afraid is to admit weakness. And yet that question presses us to embrace our weaknesses. It pushes us into being honest about our fears. And when we deal honestly with our fears, we eventually are able to face and even overcome them. Our kids can do that, too.

We embrace our weaknesses so we can learn from them and grow stronger.

We all want our kids to be strong, to be able to handle adversity. However, strength doesn’t come prepackaged. Like physical strength, emotional and mental toughness is learned as we embrace our weaknesses. We don’t do this so we can stay weak. We embrace our weaknesses so we can learn from them and grow stronger.  Here are 3 weaknesses your kids should embrace.

1. Failure

We all hate failure. Generally we hate it because we think it says we’re weak, incapable, not good enough. Unfortunately, this is a tragic attitude because some of life’s most important lessons are actually found in failure. Leadership guru John Maxwell famously said, “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.” Failure is a great springboard for learning and growth if we don’t allow it to define us.

We need to encourage our children when they take risks and fail. Whether it’s trying out for the basketball team and getting cut, or taking a tough class and struggling to make the grade, each failure is an opportunity for them to learn something about themselves and the world around them. If we can help our children embrace failure, we can help them develop a posture of learning for life.

2. Grief

We hide our tears, clear our throats so our voices don’t crack, look away so no one sees our red eyes. It’s uncomfortable for us to be seen grieving. Grieving feels like weakness. And it is, at some level. To grieve is to acknowledge loss. It’s to admit we didn’t have the strength to hold everything together.

And yet grief is also a powerful tool for healing. If our children are not allowed to grieve, to express sadness and loss because it feels too “weak,” then they will choose the “strength” of anger, bitterness, and resentment. Encouraging our children to grieve is key to their emotional well-being.

3. Uncertainty

“Knowledge is power” is a quote attributed to Sir Francis Bacon. I heard it for the first time growing up in the ’80s. It was part of an ad campaign encouraging kids to stay in school. And education is certainly important. But to equate the acquisition of knowledge to education is unfortunately short-sighted.

While ignorance feels like weakness, acknowledging what you don’t know and being willing to ask questions is important if we want to have meaningful lives. We need to model curiosity, praise our kids when they ask questions, and encourage them to be humble in all things. Have you ever noticed that the wisest people tend to ask the best questions? There’s a reason for that. Admitting our own lack of knowledge is the first step to becoming wise.

Sound off: What weakness have you embraced that’s actually made you stronger?

The post 3 Weaknesses Your Kids Should Embrace appeared first on All Pro Dad.

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.