This blog post contains excerpts from our booklet “Daddy, I Need You”.
This booklet will help you make sense of all the things you will hear about early childhood brain development and help you understand the role you can play in supporting your child’s development. Don’t worry, it’s simpler than you think. Download the full booklet here
Just about everything you could ever want to accomplish as a parent is tied to the relationship you have with your child. Whether you want to encourage good behaviour and judgement, teach skills or pass on good values, you won’t get far if you and your child don’t feel a sense of connection.
And guess what? Research shows that early relationships, particularly those with parents, play a very important role in early brain development. Little brains need to be able to interact with people and the world around them. They do this best with those they love, trust and depend on.
Building a relationship starts as soon as your baby feels real to you. Some fathers say they feel connected to their children before they are born. However, in order to build a true relationship fathers and babies have to get to know each other and that takes time and touch. Remember, the first brain pathways to develop are those that involve the senses
The key to a strong father/child bond is doing things together. Here are some ways to connect with children at various ages.
With Babies: (age 0 to 1)
Care time: Caring for a baby is the single most important thing you can do to get to know her. These everyday tasks take up a big part of a baby’s day. So in the first year, a father who is not involved in daily care won’t spend very much time with his baby.
Quiet time: Sometimes fathers have to hold unhappy babies. Babies need lots of comforting, so do your share. But make sure you also get chances to hold your baby when she’s quiet and happy. It’s a whole different experience, and it helps you see that baby care isn’t just work. Sometimes it feels good too.
Dad’s special time: Sometimes mothers become so good at caring for babies that fathers find it hard to get involved. You may wonder, “How can I do it as well as her?” Look for one area where you can be in charge. Some fathers become the bath guy, others take the early morning shift, and some become the one who usually wears the baby carrier when the family goes out.
With Toddlers: (age 1 to 2 1/2)
Floor time: Get down on the floor and play. Help him build a fort out of couch cushions and blankets, play hide and seek, build a farm for his animals, or just do whatever he wants to do.
Story time: Snuggle up and read a book. Take your time and talk about the pictures. Children who are read to a lot usually become good readers. But story time is also a great way to be together.
Cuddle time: Toddlers sometimes have tough days where everything seems to go wrong and they get upset easily. One of the best ways to handle a day like this is to give your toddler some of your time. Carry or hold him if that’s what he wants. Your presence and physical contact can help him settle down.
With Preschoolers: ( age 2 ½ to 4)
Play time: Quality time with your child need not be a special outing or activity. Usually, little kids are as happy digging in the dirt or playing games with Dad as they are going to a movie or special event, especially if the child gets to choose the activity.
Outdoor time: Outdoor play gives kids much-needed exercise and lets them burn off energy without bothering anybody. And most fathers like to be outdoors. So go to the playground, collect some rocks or wildflowers, or just kick a soccer ball around the yard.
Make-believe time: Most preschoolers love to pretend. Keep a box of dress-up clothes – costumes left-over from Halloween or Mom and Dad’s cast off clothes. Get dressed up and act out a story together. They’ll think you’re hilarious.