Where good men learn to be better dads

© 2016 steve kolander Contact Me
How dads can have a better relationship with their kids:


Stacks Image 953

My next door neighbor is a fireman and told me that during Christmas time, firemen all over the country get an onslaught of phone calls of kids choking on candy canes. He told me of a kid just last week who had swallowed his candy cane and it got stuck sideways in his throat. His parents called 911 and were in a panic. The fire department arrived and the little boy was crying. His parents were still screaming and begging the firemen to do something. The commander noticed the boy was crying and knew the boy wasn’t choking. He told everyone to settle down and he started talking to the boy. When the ambulance arrived, they too did nothing but talk to the boy. The parents kept wanting someone to do something. But the firemen and the EMT knew that eventually, the candy cane would melt and the boy would be fine. They just stood by in case the candy cane moved and got lodged and cut off the wind pipe. The thing to remember is, if a person is able to cry or scream, they’re not choking. They are breathing and they may be uncomfortable but they are fine.


Stacks Image 961
There's a few big reasons why a child may not want to go to bed; she's afraid of the dark, afraid of bedwetting, she's afraid she'll miss something, or she wants to be in charge and this is the battlefield. If your child is afraid of the dark, you can leave a light on for her. If it's a closet light, try opening the door to let a lot of light come through during the first week, and slowly, as the weeks go by, shut the door door little by little until the door is finally shut and no light is visible. Shazam, no more problem.

As for the toddler who is afraid she'll miss something, or the toddler who is trying out the concept of independence, there's a ritual to minimize this.

1. Create a bed time and stick to it. Kids need structure. Their brains aren't ready for impulse time when they are expecting certain things.
2. 1/2 hour before bedtime needs to be quiet time.
3. A bath is a good way to signal to a child that bedtime is coming. It's relaxing and calms the body. Even if they're enjoying playing with rubber duckies and squirting fish.
4. Putting them in their pjs 1/2 an hour before bed signals to the brain that bedtime is near.
5. A bedtime story or a couple of songs furthers the cause for relaxation.
6. This is not a time for dad to be hanging pictures in another room with a nail and hammer. Or mom to be be noisily stacking the dishes in the dishwasher. Or there other kids to be laughing at the newest viral YouTube video.
7. This is a good time for some teeth brushing even if junior only has 4 teeth. These are all nighttime triggers that tell the brain to to settle down. And prepare itself for rest.
8. Mobiles are a distraction for a child but not helpful for falling asleep. We want the brain to have no outside stimulation at bedtime.
9. Finally, when you place them in their crib, make it matter of fact and not negotiable. Be loving but resolute in your decision to put them to bed. Kiss them goodnight and turn out the light.

It may take a few nights (or a few weeks) for this to make sense to the love of your life but it will sink in and she will discover that bedtime means bedtime and it's time to go to sleep.


Stacks Image 971
Why some kids can eat anything and others are picky eaters is a mystery. Some parents say they just feed their kids what the rest of the family is eating and they learn to eat it or go to bed hungry. While this sounds cruel to parents with picky eaters, think of it a different way; when you prepare a meal for the family, make sure it has enough variety that the kids have a good opportunity to find something in the meal that they will eat. In due time, they will learn to try other things that they will discover they actually like.

That said, there are ways to get kids to eat better. Here's some things to think about;

1. Kids need to eat every three to four hours. Schedules are important and when you begin to regulate a feeding schedule, you're on the right track The rule is 3 meals, 2 snacks and lots of fluids. Snacks might include carrots, pretzels, yogurt and water.
2. Respect your kid's appetite or lack thereof. If you try to force or bribe your child, you could be reinforcing a power struggle of food. Mealtime shouldn't be associated with anxiety or frustration. Try smaller portions so they're not overwhelmed.
3. Have them drink water between snacks and meals. Juice and milk can decrease their appetite for the meals that really count.
4. Let your child help you choose vegetables and fruits at the store. don't buy things that you don't want your child to eat later.
5. Think out dinner at least 2 to three days ahead of time. And prepare accordingly. Make sure it's well-balanced; whole-grain bread, rice or pasta, fruit or vegetable and protein source like meat, cheese or beans.
6. Try not to comment on what they're eating too much of, or not enough of. They are experimenting and if they see you are watching them, the process will be more drama instead of organically discovering for themselves what they like.
7. Minimize distractions by turning off the TV. We have to put the dog in another room because our child tries to feed the dog during his meal.
8. Introduce new foods slowly. Kids are weary of new things and will say 'no' before bravely trying something they've never seen before. It may even help to put on a show to convince them the new food is really good. Or, tell them that one of their heroes eats this food to be strong, or pretty or fast.
9. My 15-month old wouldn't touch carrots or apples. So I went to the store and got some ranch dressing to help sneak up on the carrot underneath. Uh, 'what's up doc?'
10. The fewer junk foods you've got in the pantry, the less likely you are to give them that's not good for them. And the less likely they will have to crave the junk food over the the fruit, vegetable or dairy.

And here's three bonus ideas to get your kids to eat better;

11. Make food fun. Pancakes can have Mickey Mouse ears. A cookie cutter can turn toast into shapes of animals or hearts. Broccoli can be trees and baby carrots can be dinosaur eggs.
12. Eat with your kids. Don't feed them while you're busy in the kitchen preparing dinner for you and your spouse. Or while you watch a TV show. Sit down with your children and eat together.This is the best way to be a model to your children.
13. Don't be worried if every meal doesn't turn out the way you think it should. It takes time. And what happens during one meal is not a foregone conclusion of what the rest of the meals will be like.


Do you ever look at your child and wonder, "What's he/she going to grow up to be?" And do you wonder what role you play in that decision? Well, I sure do. I play the piano, the guitar and the flute for my son daily in hopes that he'll get interested in playing music when he gets older. I'm not saying I want him to be a professional musician, but I know that music has been a great communication tool for me when I need to get things off my chest. Or I want to tell others what's inside my head.

I read him books and tell him stories so he understands words, speaking and inflections of voice. I think it may help him enjoy books and reading when he gets older because that's where all the answers are. I try to pick out toys that are wooden, and fabric that are texturally interesting to the touch so that he appreciates aesthetics and design.

My wife and I talk and laugh around him and are affectionate so he sees that these are the ways we treat others that we care about.

But there's still something lacking as I try to teach my son how to think as an adult. I was always taught to work hard and everything else will follow. And it has worked out okay for me to some degree. But as I grew older, I saw that there were others around me that were not working as hard as me but were just as successful or more so. And I wondered, 'what do they know that I don't?" And one day I picked up the book, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," and it began to sink in. I have come to believe that it's not necessary to work hard as it is to work smart. And this means understanding the world around us. It means to discover what others around us need or want and find ways to provide it. And when we discover how to provide it, delegate those tasks to others so it frees us up to make other discoveries. It's called being an entrepreneur. Since I have moved to Boston, I have met dozens of entrepreneurs and am friends with many of them. And i'm intrigued with their belief system.

Most of these entrepreneurs are no smarter than your average Joe and sometimes, not as smart. And they don't pretend to be smarter. It is their natural ability to think of an idea and hire someone to find the solutions for them. It doesn't dawn on them that they don't know enough to run a company. It doesn't cross their minds that they are in over their heads. They just know that they have an idea and that if someone should be able to make money from that idea, why not them. In essence, they claim their prize, they step into the ring with both feet and only then do they ask, "How in the world am I going to succeed. And one step at a time, they find solutions to each problem.

I began to wonder if I could teach my son to think this way. And in my search, I came across a TedTalks speech by Cameron Herold that really made me think that perhaps there is a road map. I think the speaker is a little too quick to assume some of his points. But that's exactly what an entrepreneur does so I cut him some slack. But I took many of his points to heart and will incorporate those examples that make sense to me as I teach Conor to be self sufficient, independent and to think bigger in a world that needs big answers.

Here's the speech and examples of how to get your child to think like an entrepreneur.


Stacks Image 659

As my team from Small Army and Old Harbor Productions travel together through Europe shooting small films for SolidWorks, I noticed that the producer was taking out a little Buzz Lightyear and snapping photos in front of iconic locations throughout our trip. I couldn’t help but finally ask what was up with all the Buzz pictures. Steve told me that his son is 4 years old and looks forward to his dad taking pictures of Buzz throughout the world. Buzz has been to more places that most of us could ever hope to go in our lifetime. Steve’s son loves this. And so does Steve. After all, he spends about 80% of his time traveling the world to create commercials and films for big name clients like GM, Audi, Gillette and SolidWorks to name just a few. I thought it would be interesting to do a Google search to see how prevalent the topic is on the internet. You know, to see how other dads cope and offer advice to other dads. The search was, "How do dads cope with traveling away from their kids“. “The very first Google find was, “How could men get away without paying child support?” The second was by a mom blogger who wrote, “Kids acting out cuz they miss their dads.” And finally, “Moving away and custody of fathers.”Maybe it’s just a matter of bad SEO from other sites but this is what came up. Nowhere were dads talking about how they cope with being away from their kids. I thought that Steve’s approach was a great idea. Where ever he goes in the world, he feels a connection when he takes out Buzz Lightyear from his busy job, and takes a moment to snap a picture of Buzz conquering foreign lands in a polymer plastic uniform that could only be from the future. Steve then sends the pictures home and his son knows that his dad is always thinking of him as he introduces Buzz to new places but will ultimately return to the loving arms of his son.My 6-month old son has no idea that daddy is traveling. He simply knows that I don’t exist when I’m not there. After 13 days apart I will magically appear again. I expect that he will hear my voice and see my smiling face and break out into a giant smile and uncontrollably kick and shake with delight and forgive me for magically disappearing for so long. And while I love traveling and meeting intelligent people with great stories, I never stop thinking of Conor. And when i see others pushing their child’s stroller or hear a child cry, I feel a yank at my heart, or is it my soul, that says, "get home quickly." One of the things I do to cope with being away from my son is writing this blog to stay connected to dadhood in a small way. It’s important for me to do something every day that involves my son even if I’m not home. So the blog is one way. Shopping for small presents is also rewarding. And as a songwriter, writing little songs about or for him also scratches the itch of being a dad who may not be with his child but is still connecting the best way he can think of. This to me, is very important to being a dad.Tomorrow we travel to Germany for our last film of this trip. It will last 4 days and then I will be back home in Boston to see my brave and loving wife, and my perpetually happy son. I hope they greet me with open arms. If you have any stories or suggestions of how you cope when away from your family, please let us know. We dads can use all the help we can get.


Tomorrow, the Kolander family flies from Boston to Austin for this year's SxSW 2012 Interactive Conference. It's the first time since we've had Conor that we've attempted to fly. We skipped a holiday flight to Ireland in December because Conor was barely two months old and hadn't had all his vaccinations. Now, there's no excuse.

We're nervous. We remember being the kid-free adults cringing as the mother would walk down the aisle juggling a diaper bag, a screaming kid and hand-held luggage to shove into the overhead bin. I would always hope they would stop before they got all the way to my seat and sit down next to some other poor sap. But now, I'm the guy with the 4 month old, who at any given moment can explode into sobs of discomfort, annoyance or hunger. The question is, will I be able to intercept the audible pangs before they become the equivalent of fingers on a chalkboard for a plane full of business travelers.

This has led me do a little research on how to entertain kids on a plane to keep them in check. First of all, I didn't find any fool-proof method so that was a disappointment. But I did remember that before Conor was born I was searching website for kid tidbits and I found an article about traveling with a child. And that there's a baby hammock available that you attach to the tray table in front of you and the other half is attached to you. And the baby fits inside the hammock so you can see the baby at all times without him being draped across you for the entire flight. Well, I purchased that contraption before Conor was ever born and I pulled it out of the drawer last night. People swear by these things so I plan on trying it Thursday.

As my research continued, I really begin to see the advantage of buying Conor his own seat so I can use my infant car seat for him. We did not do this and I now have a call into my wife to see if it's still possible. (I would do it myself but don't have the flight information at my fingertips.) Many airlines offer a 50% discount for infants so this would help with the cost.

Other Tips I found that may help;

1. Relax, travel used to be fun! Let's just pretend it still us. If you are uptight the baby will definitely sense it and start to also get uptight.

2. Buy a seat for the baby to guarantee that you can use your infant safety seat on the plane — securing the child in one will make the trip easier for you and safer the your baby (typical 50% domestic discount but baby then gets full baggage allowance so easier to check in more stuff)

3. Have a bottle available for take-off/landing to keep the baby swallowing — helps lessen pressure in the ears. (Swallowing/sucking during landing is more important than during take-off as landing is harder on the ears.)

4. Pack at least 50% more diapers than you think you'll need, and extra wipes — air travel has a way of clearing out little guts

5. Get to the airport early — allow at least an extra 45 to 60 minutes for last minutes feeds and diaper changes pre-boarding, and getting through security is a time-consuming nuisance, especially with a baby.

6. Remember that despite what a few FT members think, infants screaming on planes is neither criminal or fatal. We'd all prefer to minimize it, but sometimes it is just gonna happen. And when it does, probably most parents on the plane are more in sympathy with you than angry (and secretly glad it's not their baby this time)!

Found at;

Here's a link to the Flyebaby report;


As if 9 months of pregnancy isn't enough of a challenge, bringing the baby home from the hospital and having it cry incessantly just doesn't seem fair.
Some babies will cry for hours a day when they come home from the hospital for the first 3 months until the crying one day magically disappears. And many a doctor will say there's nothing wrong with the baby. It's just colicky. They tell you to just ignore the baby and they'll cry themselves to sleep.
According to Dr. Karp, an amazing pediatrician and author of "Happiest Baby on the Block", this is an outdated way of thinking. After researching baby culture around the world, he notices that some cultures don't even have colicky babies. So he began to discover why. And what could we learn so that our own babies don't cry for the first three months out of the womb.
His discovery led to the theory that babies are born 3 months too early. Probably because they would be too big to come out in later. A baby's brain is too big. So the rest of the growing has to be done outside the womb.
This means that some babies are sensitive and they really want to be back in the womb where they felt safe and comfortable. If we could only mimic the environment in the womb, then the baby would chill and the crying would go away.
What's more, Dr. Karp discovered exactly how to do it. And babies that were crying for hours on end daily, within seconds or minutes of following the technique, were quiet. And their parents were given a new lease on life.
The technique is called, "The cuddle cure" and it's made up of the "5 S's";
1. Swaddle (cornerstone of calming)
2. Side (stops the uncontrolled arm and leg acrobatics)
3. Shhhh (loudly mimics the fluid noises from the womb)
4. Swinging (back and forth swishing like in the amniotic fluid)
5. Sucking (icing on the layered cake. Promotes tranquility)
I think this is the first book I've ever recommended on DadsDecoded. It's written well and you can see lots of videos on YouTube showing it work for different parents.
For years I've heard, "Too bad kids don't come with an owner's manual." Well, it's finally been written. And the author's name is Doctor Harvey Karp.

How to rock your baby to sleep

It's important to train your baby to sleep as soon as you bring him/her home from the hospital. Sleeping through the noise is the first step. You may think you should put the baby in a quiet place away from all the house traffic but not so. You want to get your baby flexible enough to sleep anywhere in any situation.

The experts now say that it's good to have your baby sleep in the same room as you but in its bassinet or crib, not your bed. (See "I don't know a bassinet from a basset hound" in the Daily Poop section if you don't know what a bassinet is.)

In the first few months, it's imperative to feed your baby whenever he/she is hungry. This builds a strong bond and much needed trust between moms and the baby. Dads may feel left out but let's face it, there's just some things we can't do. It's okay to rock the baby to sleep after its feedings and this is where dads can step back into the picture.

After a few weeks of rocking junior to sleep, it's time to wean him off this or he'll get dependent on it and that is not what you want. You want to make the rules, not baby.

You do this by creating a ritual that signals bedtime is coming. It might be a bath. Or a tummy rub. Maybe a little head rub. Or storybook reading time. You can rock the baby but you want to put him in his crib before he actually falls asleep. Then hang there with him, maybe rubbing his tummy gently until he falls asleep.

And if Rock-A-Bye-Baby’s not working, try a heavy metal tune. Could work. I’m just saying’.

How to calm your baby when it cries.

My brother told me a story of how his doberman used to sit next to his son's crib and when Ethen would cry, Dude would howl to soothe Ethen's woes. It sounds far fetched but here's a malamute doing the exact same thing to a crying baby. Lo and behold, the baby chills.

How to make your daughter laugh

Not sure if this is a good idea, but what kid wouldn't laugh their butt off if Dad did this? Wouldn't want to be near an open window for sure.

How not to change a baby's diaper

My wife thinks this video is hilarious. I'm not sure what to think of it. Come on dudes, you're making us dads look bad. Okay, it is kinda funny.
I thought this was really clever. Lower the seat and take the pedals off. Then find a slight incline. Now the child is learning one thing at a time.
The baby's laughter is infectious. As much as babies like repetition, this is a match made in heaven because some dogs don't know when to stop, either. The trick is to make sure the dog isn't going to ratchet up the play. I'd be watching this game like a hawk. But as you can see, this baby and miniature collie are made for each other.