#DadTips: Fathers’ unique impact on child development

Involved, caring parents and caregivers build the foundation for their child’s development and future success.

Fathers have often been stereotyped as “secondary” parents with some even considering the role as disconnected or not as important as mothers. We know that simply isn’t the case!

Did you know that fathers play a unique role in their child’s development? Here are just a few ways that fathers, father figures or other loving caregivers make a positive impact on young children’s development:

 Compared to mothers, fathers ask more questions and use less common words when talking with their children. This fosters curiosity and helps children grow their vocabulary by showing them how to use new and more complex words.

 Children who feel close to their father are twice as likely to enter college or find stable employment after high school.

 High levels of father involvement are correlated with higher levels of sociability, confidence, and self-control in children. Children with involved fathers are less likely to display challenging behaviors in school.

 The quality of the father-child relationship matters significantly more than the number of hours spent together. So, non-resident fathers and dads who work long hours can still have positive effects on children’s social and emotional well-being, as well as academic achievement and behavioral adjustment.

 Fathers can provide a positive male role model for their children and help to promote/reinforce good behaviors. As a result, children with more involved fathers tend to have fewer behavioral and impulse control problems, longer attention spans and a higher level of sociability. These children also tend to be more compassionate and generous, with an increased awareness of the needs and rights of others.

Looking for ways to get more involved with your child to support their development? Start with the 3Ts from Southwest Human Development’s Let’s Talk Dads early literacy program: Tune In, Talk More and Take Turns.

• Tune In means being in the moment whenever spending time with your child. Focusing on being present will help you better recognize and understand our children’s behaviors and emotions. When we give our children our undivided attention, they feel loved and cared for.

• Talk More means looking for opportunities to talk and interact with your child. Talk to them about their day, things that they enjoy or activities that you’re doing. The more words they hear and start to understand, the more their vocabulary will expand.

• Take Turns means engaging in conversation with your child. You can practice this by asking questions and keeping a conversation going no matter how often they change subjects. Engaging conversations with parents help children build their language and social skills, as well as support your parent-child connection.

The 3Ts can be used in every situation, especially reading together. Making reading interactive will help make reading a relationship-building, fun experience, as well as help children build a love for reading.

Learn about the important role that dads play in encouraging and supporting their child’s language development, and also learn new strategies to promote early brain development with the Let’s Talk Dads program.