Dads have a vital role to play in the lives of their children.

Dads have a vital role to play in the lives of their children.

Being a dad is a tough job, but it can be one of the most rewarding a man will have. Fathers can be one of the greatest positive influences in a child's life - here are just some of the ways.

Listening
There's no better feeling as a dad than to walk through the door at the end of a tough day and have kids run at you screaming "Daddy's home!" Their eyes light up as they tell you all about their day: who they played with, what they did and everything in between. The most disappointing thing for them to hear is "Hang on a minute, Daddy needs to watch the news."

A great dad listens to his kids. It makes them feel important and loved. It's also helpful for dads because the more you listen, the more you learn about your children. You get to understand what's important in their world. Let's face it, men aren't noted for great listening skills, and it's not always easy to listen when you have a lot going on in your own life. But really listening to your kids is a great way to build a closer relationship.

A great Dad is conscious of setting a positive example for his kids. His words and actions are consistent.  

Using time wisely
We live in an incredibly busy and competitive world, and it can seem as though there's never enough time to do everything we want - or have - to do. Despite the talk of work/life balance, the expectations in our workplaces have never been higher. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we're working this hard to give our kids a better life, but would the kids benefit more if we scaled back at work a bit?

A great dad makes intentional decisions about how he balances his time to ensure that he can spend as much time as possible with his kids. It can be really hard to strike a balance and it comes back to priorities. Kids usually just want to spend time with their dad.

Encouraging
The old saying from childhood "sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me" isn't true when it comes to dads. Our words are incredibly powerful. We can use our words in positive ways to build confidence in our kids, or we can use words that tear them down.

A great dad uses words carefully to encourage his kids. It can be easy to focus on the negative; marks not achieved, goals missed and rooms not tidied up. It's important that our kids know that their dad supports and cares for them, and will offer encouragement when others knock them down.

Setting an example
Kids learn from observing. They're sponges and take in much more than we often realise. It's a massive responsibility to have so much influence over another person.

A great dad is conscious of setting a positive example for his kids. His words and actions are consistent. He understands that he plays a huge role in shaping the character of his kids though who he is and how he treats other people.

Disciplining appropriately
Disciplining children is a tough exercise. As much as we love them, sometimes kids can be infuriating. An important parenting skill for dads is to be able to discipline appropriately - and this means to discipline kids to shape their character, rather then out of anger.

When disciplining kids, take a moment to think through what you want them to learn. Tell them clearly. Describe to them what they did wrong and how you want them to address it. Taking a moment to think before reacting is important, because it allows you to focus on the desired behaviour change instead of acting from anger.

So while you're opening up your fourth pack of socks on Father's Day, you may want to take a minute to think through the positive ways you can influence your children's lives in the future.

You might like to check out the Essential Baby forum area that's just for dads.