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I got a 6-year-old and 23 months old, I am guilty of not spending time with my kids because I do not know how to. My son is very good at the following instruction, I got him to switch gaming consoles back in a pandemic. I had a very upside-down life/career and spend my life in front of the computer and now I do because I have an attention deficit I do not know anything except that. during Pandemic I lost my job so the frustration was even more.

My wife commented out once that "I do not want our son to be like to you", when asked she said looking at him in school, he can't interact and get involved, "look at him trying to get into the group of already playing classmates but no one is playing with him". The comment hurt a lot as my wife praise her family and her values and despise mine. I would like to say that it feels narcissistic but my concern is my son's welfare.

How do I spend time with my son; be a cornerstone in his life? At the moment, he watches TV all day, but when given a task, do it well but is distracted because he loves cartoons. My dad died when I was 7 so I want to equip him with best of best if I pass away soon

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    I learned a lot by attending playgroups and play centers, going to the park, library, game lending library, helping out at school, etc. Observing others, interacting and talking with others. And here's a podcast I like, with a sample episode that I got a lot out of: longestshortesttime.com/episode-83-how-to-parent-like-a-clown / You might enjoy keeping a log where you write down the positives. / One more episode -- this one is specially for you and your wife: longestshortesttime.com/episode-70-theres-something-about-andy Feb 6 at 20:40
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    @aparente001 Worth putting in an answer, I think :) Feb 7 at 12:26
  • I agree with @aparente. Take them out of the house to do things together. Feb 7 at 21:35
  • @localhost - came across something today that MIGHT be helpful: naeyc.org/our-work/for-families -- I'm not familiar with the site yet -- see what you think. Feb 7 at 22:45
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    Hi, the shops are full with board games for 2 participants, why not start with them? Children like such games at 5-6 years, so play with them a hour or two per day; choose game together with child to be sure that he'll like it. It however should be good old board game, without any electronics. Another idea is to play sport games like football or bowling together if child likes it. It is a bit more complex for 23 months old, because his games are really hard to understand for adult. But 6 years old is supposed to be easy to play, just remember yourself at this age and you'll generate idea.
    – Vitalii
    Feb 9 at 8:14

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Read to them

Get some childrens books from your local library, and read them to your children. You may be able to entertain both at the same time, but it is more likely that they'll need separate books - the 2 year old probably couldn't follow any kind of plot, and would need a lot of pictures. This is easy to do, and being read to as a young child is strongly positively correlated to future educational success.

To include emotional literacy as well, intersperse reading the book with discussing with your kids about what is happening. What emotions do characters feel? Why? Should someone have acted differently to prevent another person from becoming sad, etc.

Go for a walk

It sounds like you'd all benefit from more active behaviour outside. Going for walks regularly is a good habit, and it will make it easier for you to actually focus on your children because of a lack of distractions (if you don't need it for navigation, consider leaving your phone at home if thats a risk for you). For a two year old, ducks at a pond can be a huge adventure!

If you have a zoo, or a museum with dinosaurs/mummies/other fun stuff accessible to you, that can easily make the older one's week.

Play ball

Sticking with the physical activities part, playing ball is a stereotypical thing to do with your children as a father. For the 5 year old, playing "catch" might work, for the two year old it's more "fetch". If you play with both at the same time, use this to teach the 5 year old to think about others - only gentle throws to the young one, no throwing towards your face if you arent ready, stuff like that.

Take an interest in their interests

Probably only relevant for the older one. If he loves cartoons, let him tell you about it. What is his favourite one? What happens there? What is so good about? What relations do the characters have (who is a fried of whom, etc)? Are characters acting according to real-life norms? Any noteworthy happiness/sadness/angriness/etc as a reaction to certain actions?

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    This is a good answer. Some more examples from me: Building something together (Lego, building blocks, sand), Coloring something together, Solving puzzles, Involving them in your activities (e.g. baking, cleaning, repairing a computer). I'd also suggest to visit playgrounds. The contact with other children will help your children. And you can watch how other parents interact with their children.
    – Libranova
    Feb 21 at 10:22
  • @Libranova I agree that your suggestions are all great things to do with a kid. But they seem a bit harder to do well. Take puzzling with a five year old. They'll want to do some stuff on their own, so you need to be holding back quite a bit, but you shouldn't take our your phone and browse reddit either...
    – Arno
    Feb 23 at 9:34
  • @Libranova True and worse, it changes every time how much you may puzzle or not. I chose those activities, because they are more easy for me as a fellow grew-up-with-computer-only nerd than let's say playing kittens. I simply wanted to extend your list with a few more activities, so that perhaps the OP finds one they enjoy as well.
    – Libranova
    Feb 23 at 12:01
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when asked she said looking at him in school, he can't interact and get involved, "look at him trying to get into the group of already playing classmates but no one is playing with him".

Toddlers go through a "parallel play" stage where they don't so much play with each other as next to each other. It's normal at this age and not a cause for concern yet.

Edit: oops, I misread 6 years as 6 months and thought you were talking about the 2 year-old. It might be a concern or it might not. Not every 6 year-old has the same social skills.

As to your main question, I had the same concern when I was a new Dad, and my Dad gave me this advice that helped me. You don't have to entertain your child, just spend time with them, give them your full attention, and let them direct your playtime. Don't overthink it.

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