Evolve Your Dad Skills with Pokémon Go

“Man, this Pokémon adventure is sick!” With that exclamation, my son then stops, turns, leans in for a big hug, and affectionately says, “Love you, Dad.”

These are the real moments. The moments that all dads (and moms) strive for. As parents we simply go from one magical moment to another. The other moments are fluff and filler. At least that’s how I feel about life in general. Raising my kids is no different than the rest of my adventures. Today’s post will address stepping outside the box to give your kids (and hopefully you) an epic time together that will be remembered forever!

I decided to break this article into two parts so I wouldn’t bore the pants off the few parents who simply will not try Pokémon Go. If you’re not going to be coaxed into giving it a go (no pun intended) than you can just read part one and leave it at that. For those parents who are, or would like to, play Pokémon Go with their kids, you can read the whole article and learn some tips on being a good Pokémon pal with your children.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Pokémon master. Heck, I’m not even a junior master. I’m just a dad who loves doing things with his kids. So, if you came here as a semi-pro looking for hot tips, you’re at the wrong place. There are tons of YouTubers who can help you out. That said, if you are a semi-pro I would love for you to read this and comment and let me know what you think of the article! Carry on.

Part One: Think Outside the Box with Your Kids

If you don’t know what Pokémon Go is, you can simply open your eyes and look around you. Probably 75% of the people you see walking and staring at devices are playing. Essentially it’s the latest craze and it is a very good opportunity for you to earn Dad or Mom Cred. However, it isn’t the only way…

Let’s start by saying: It does not have to be Pokémon Go. It just has to be something that your kids dig. As parents we often get caught in the paradigm of assuming our children will love doing the things we loved or did as we grew up. I mean, who doesn’t love camping? Or, watching re-runs of M*A*S*H? The simple answer is that your kids will (and should) do things with you (camping, a certain show, board games, and so on). That’s fine. But, if you really wanna melt their little hearts you gotta step outside your comfort zone. I’m talking way outside. You need to find a thing (or three) that they really enjoy.

In this article I call out Pokémon Go, because it is extremely popular right now. That said, your kids might not like it… Well, you gotta figure out what their passion is. That part is easy, but it does take a secret. Are you ready for the secret? …drum-roll please… Listen. Yes… It is that easy. Simply listen to your children and pay attention to them and you will find a world of things that excite them.

Once you know what the thing is, you need to make an effort. Since we’re talking about Pokémon Go, let’s use it as an example. An effort includes learning some about the game. Chatting with your kid(s) about it. After learning and talking, you actually download it (*GASP*) yes… I said download it. You didn’t think you were gonna get away with just talking for a few minutes and then moving on… Did you?

Truth-be-told: If you really wanna win your child’s heart, you gotta actually get in the trenches with them. So, download the app and learn to play it. Luckily for you, I give a few pointers in part two (below) that will help you get on your feet.

The good news about Pokémon Go is that it includes plenty of parent-child discussion time. It also offers you a great time to advise and even give lifesaving tips. For instance: When you go to cross the street and see your child has his or her nose in the device and steps out onto the asphalt without a glance for traffic, you can calmly (yes, calmly) stop them and explain their error. You can be stern and serious and still remain calm and understanding. Tell them what could have happened if you weren’t there (squished like a bug). Talk to them about school. Talk to them about life. You’ll have plenty of time, because a single Pokémon walking session can be from thirty to ninety or more minutes (depending on how much time you’re willing to give).

Now let’s get you up to speed on the game and ready to do some battling with your kid!

Part Two: How to Hang with Your Kids in Pokémon Go

Step one: download the game and create an account.

Step two: play alongside your kid.

That’s it!

Okay, there is way more to the game than that… But, that is really all it will take to make your kid think you are way cooler. After you’ve played a little (when you get to level five) you will face your first challenge… Choosing you team. There are three teams to choose from. I recommend simply choosing the team that your son or daughter is already a member of. If you’re on the same team, you get to battle together against other teams. This is tons of fun!

By the way… You will obviously have questions along the way about the game-play. Instead of sneaking off to search Google, try asking your kid. They will probably know the answer, and it will boost their morale (and confidence) knowing they are helping you with something instead of vice-versa. Watch them light-up and chatter with reckless abandon when you query them.

Here’s a few tips and terms that will help you along your path to becoming a level thirty-three master!

Tips

  • Don’t just evolve your Pokémon the second you get enough candy (see the Lingo section below). Instead save them for an “evolve session” where you’ll use a magic egg at the same time and double your XP. (you better check the lingo section again… hehe)
  • Make sure you “appraise” your higher CP Pokémon before transferring them. (ask your child how to appraise your Pokémon, or look it up together)
  • When you guys do your walk session, go to a local park that is big enough to walk around. Parks are where you find PokéStops and get goodies.
  • If/when you’re at a park, drop a lure and dance with glee as the Pokémon come rolling in.
  • When you use incense, make sure you’re walking around and not sitting still. When you’re moving, the Pokémon come much more often (up to five times as often) as when you sit on the couch.
  • When you hatch an egg, let your kid press the screen to launch the hatch and tell them you think they have a lucky touch. Then, when a cool Pokémon appears say, “See! You are lucky!!”
  • Pay attention to the level of your child and when they’re approaching a level-up. Leveling up (especially at higher levels) is one of the most exciting parts of the game. You should be there for a few and make sure you show enthusiasm as you high-five and congratulate them.
  • Ask your kid for tips, advice, and help while you’re learning the ropes. This is important!
  • Honestly appreciate the stuff your child says about the game. Listen.
  • Hold your finger on the ball patiently and wait for the aiming circle to shrink to a real small dot before throwing and your chances are increased for catching a Pokémon.
  • Learn to throw a curve ball (spin it before releasing it) and impress your kid!
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    Know the Lingo

  • Pokémon: Creatures that you capture in the game.
  • PokéStop: These are located at parks and other places of interest, and they are places that attract Pokémon. You also get to spin the sign every five minutes and get goodies.
  • PokéGym: This is where the battles happen. And, it’s one of the most exciting parts of the game. You also pick your team at gyms when you reach fifth level.
  • PokéDex: An index of all the Pokémon characters. As you find Pokémon in the game, they will show up here. Check your “Dex” against your kid’s one. It’s fun to talk about wishing you could catch some elusive Pokémon (they show up as numbers or silhouettes if you haven’t caught them yet).
  • Power Up: Using candy and stardust you can power your Pokémon up to their maximum level, making them more battle ready.
  • Evolve: Many Pokémon can evolve into a more powerful character. You need lots of candy for this move.
  • XP: Experience Points. You collect XP and eventually gain enough to level up. Each level requires more XP.
  • CP: Combat Power shows the combined power and abilities of your Pokémon (over 2,000 is a great target to attain). It’s how everyone compares their Pokémon against each other.
  • Balls: Poké Balls come in three types: normal, great, and ultra. Each level of ball is better at capturing Pokémon than the lower ones. Use the more powerful ones to capture rare Pokémon, or ones that you really need/want.
  • Candy: You get candy each time you catch a Pokémon and when you transfer one. You’ll need candy to evolve or power-up.
  • Stardust: You get Stardust when you catch a Pokémon, takeover a gym, or do a few other things. You’ll need stardust to power-up your Pokémon.
  • Potion: Potions are used to heal hit points (HP) after a gym battle.
  • Lucky Egg: These double your experience (XP) collected. They last for thirty minutes, so time their usage around times that you anticipate gathering lots of XP (like when you evolve or find new Pokémon).
  • Incense: Incense attracts Pokémon to you and lasts for thirty minutes. Use it when you’re walking around and you’ll find much more than sitting in one spot.
  • Razz Berry: This is delicious food that makes Pokémon like you and become easier to catch.
  • Eggs and Incubators: You can collect and incubate up to nine eggs at a time. Incubation takes either 2, 5, or 10 kilometers of walking. Each level of egg has better Pokémon. You can find some of the best and rarest Pokémon in the game with a 10km egg! (make sure you’re hanging out with your kid when some of the 10km eggs hatch, it’s a blast!)
  • Lure: Use a lure at a PokéStop and it will attract lots of Pokémon.
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    If you end-up needing more information, I recommend using YouTube. You will find LOTS of people who know a ton about the game. However, when watching with your kids, you need to watch out for a few rude guys who spit out the eff word (among other colorful words). Just move past them, because there are lots of folks on there who don’t cuss.

    Happy Pokémoning! Thanks for reading, and please chime in, because I love hearing your opinion and thoughts!

    -Vaughn

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    Vow to Be a Better Parent

    Father’s Day was a special treat this year. My children are getting older and finally grasping what these holidays mean. I got lots of love and some wonderful homemade cards among other things. Despite all of these creative gifts and tons of love, I believe that the greatest gift I received was an eye-opening experience about parenting.

    My epiphany came sometime during the morning of Father’s Day. My wife, Kristine, shared an article with me. The article was about a man (a bad father) who essentially had mentally broken his child. The article was a bit overzealous, but I got the gist of it and it really sunk in. After reading it, I did a little Google research and found more articles and thought provoking tidbits. As I delved in deeper, I uncovered some inner feelings that I had about myself and my family.

    My dad raised me with a strict and stern outlook. He was swift with his hand and mouth. However, he never struck me out of anger. He would always send me to my room to wait for my punishment while he (presumably) calmed himself down. When the spanking time came, Dad was always sad and determined at the same time. He would explain to me why I was being punished and the ways that I could improve. Dad loved me with all of his heart, and he sincerely was doing the best that he could to raise me into a respectable adult. I happen to think he did a fantastic job with the tools he was given.

    Looking back, I can learn from some of my dad’s mistakes. I can also learn from the things he did correctly. I can use the generations before me to figure out what worked and what didn’t. It struck me as sudden as a shock from an electrical outlet. I hold in my hands and mind (and always have) the power to improve based on what I’ve experienced.

    This latest bit of information hit home and I sat pondering… I philosophized for literally thirty or forty minutes. It was deep thought. And, it was emotional. In the moments that followed my thought provoking inner look, I realized that I want to improve. Strike that… I NEED to improve.

    I know that I’m not here to be my children’s friend.

    I know that it’s my parental duty to create responsible and caring adults out of my children.

    I know that my young children rely on me to guide them and help them.

    However, all of those things don’t mean that I can’t still be my child’s friend. That I can’t be loving and nurturing at the same time that I’m strict and firm. Deciding then and there, I vowed to be a better Dad to my kids. I vowed to listen more to them. I vowed to touch and hold them more. I vowed to try and empathize with their needs, wants, and feelings. I vowed to love.

    Love is the key. It means everything to me. With love, I can accomplish anything. And, with love I can help teach my children how to be all that they can be.

    It has always been my goal to do the best as a parent. To teach and lift my children. To inspire and motivate them. Now, my eyes are opened to a deeper feeling. A longing of improving my abilities and doing even better and even more.

    Today I vow to be a better parent. Will you take that vow with me? Together let’s turn the world on its ear and show that it is possible to raise understanding, smart, and responsible adults by using our brains and our hearts. Let’s learn from our past… Let’s learn from our parents… Let’s learn from our friends… And, let’s learn from each other. Join me on a quest to make a better world, one child at a time!

    I hope this touched some of you, and maybe even inspired you to vow to be a better parent.

    Typed (and conceived) with love,
    Vaughn

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    Male Bonding Making a Rubber Band Loom Spider-Man

    If you look, you will often find opportunities to bond with your children. The key here is that you must pay attention and be observant. Recently my children have gotten into this rubber band loom bracelet building craze. Normally, I barely notice passing fads like this… However, this time my son made me a beautiful bracelet and meticulously sized it for me. When he handed it over to me you would think he thought he was giving me a million dollars. His eyes were gleaming up at me, and he carefully handed it with two hands with a partial (proud) smile on his face. This stood out to me, and I knew at that moment just how important this “fad” was.

    The other day on Pinterest (yes, I go there sometimes) I spotted a Spider-Man rubber band action figure diagram on my friend’s (Nikki) page. It looked cute, and I immediately realized the value… My son is a HUGE superhero fan, and Spider-Man is one of his favorites. I printed out the diagram and left it laying around for him to find. My plan worked… When he saw it, he was absolutely enamored and practically begged to build the character.

    *hook line and sinker*

    I offered to work with him and make it the next morning. His eyes brightened, he beamed a smile, and hugged me with a big “Thank you, Daddy.” This melted my heart. My heart was melted even further when he woke me early the next morning and asked if were still going to make Spider-Man. I said, “yes” and he ran off. Coming back with the paper, he said, “I slept with it under my pillow.” Holy crap, my heart was in my throat! I live for (and love) this stuff!

    After brewing some coffee and making him wait a few minutes, we broke out the loom and started working. It was so fun learning about this fancy-dancy rubber band loom (this was my first time) and how cool it actually was. My son (Xander is five years old) was more than happy to explain how it worked and he diligently hunted for different accessories as we prepared.

    The whole time we were working, Xander and I chatted and I could see him bouncing off the walls with energy and excitement as the project neared completion. His smile grew by the minute and he kept exclaiming how cool it was. This was an incredibly heartwarming experience for both us!

    I highly recommend bonding time with your children, and this is a perfect example of something silly and fun that you can do that will remain as a fond memory for years to come.

    This article was not meant to be an instructional one. I merely wanted to reference using the loom for the Spider-Man rubber band action figure thingy creation. Rather, this post is about bonding with your child (in my case, bonding with my son). However, I know that some might find this article purely by searching for “Spider-Man rubber band loom” and it wouldn’t be fair to at least point you in the right direction. So, I thought I would also share the YouTube videos (there are two of them) that I used to make the trinket. Here’s the videos that I followed along with to make this masterpiece:

    PART ONE

    PART TWO

    If you plan to build the Spider-Man rubber band figure, I can give you a few pointers and tips to make your experience a tad easier…

  • This is what I would consider an intermediate level thing to build and will take some time (it took me about ninety minutes to complete).
  • Rubber bands do break from time-to-time… It is not the end of the world. I used a broken rubber band as another bonding/training tool, explaining to Xander that it’s no big deal. We worked carefully together to replace the broken band and moved on.
  • The video was very well planned and covers everything. But, you need to watch closely at a few key points (at least I did) to really catch on to what he’s doing.
  • Remember that you’re bonding with your child and let them do some of the work. I had Xander searching through his rubber bands to pull out a bunch of the deep red and blue ones. I also asked his advice a few times and had him do some of the actual work. We had a blast!
  • Be patient and methodical.
  • Cherish this time!
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    After we finished, Xander made a long string of white rubber bands (sort of like a bracelet that didn’t connect the ends). He held it up grinning and said, Here’s his web.
    Spider-Man rubber band web

    How do you bond with your kids? And, have your kids gotten into the rubber bands?

    I hope you enjoyed this story,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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