For any growing kid, playtime is more important than we give credit for. It has been proven that in the first 4 months of parenting, fathers experienced growth in parts of the brain involved in parental motivation. Children whose fathers make time to play with them from a very young age may find it easier to control their behaviour and emotions as they grow up. Children who get more playtime with their dads learn faster, study finds. Baby AZ Today would like to guide you through this study, which has allowed us to give all the fathers in the world the appreciation they deserve.
According to researchers from the University of Cambridge, dads tend to be more physical and active when playing with their kids, even from a young age. They say this kind of engagement can be beneficial in giving kids more autonomy over their emotions and behavior.
One study found that children whose father is engaged in their care and upbringing are better behaved at school, achieve stronger educational performance, and have a greater enjoyment of school. The impact stretches beyond education as well. Studies have shown an engaged father to have a dramatically positive effect on their child’s emotional development – they show less psychological distress, lower criminality, greater feelings of self-worth – and develop stronger and healthier relationships in the future.
How much do dads play with their kids?
Generally, the researchers observed that dads played more with their children as they grew from babies to toddlers. Playtime then decreased again when they reached middle childhood — around the ages of 8–13.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is deteriorating during this time. If you’re a father, this might just be an interesting point of reflection. How has the time you’ve spent with your children changed as they’ve grown? Perhaps the type of activities you do together has evolved.
In a baby’s earliest days, fathers can provide consistent nurturing and care
The brain is shaped by early experience, specifically, the mothering (nurturing responsive care) we receive from mothers and fathers.
From the first weeks, babies start to learn how to think, imagine, and learn about the things around them. The learning process is called cognitive development and it happens right in front of your eyes. A father highly contributes to this process, and the best way to help is they should involve from the beginning.
From 2.5 to about 6 months of age, the baby’s behavior is highly responsive to his parent’s behavior through facial expressions and vocalizations. Interactions become rich and mutual. “Face-to-face play becomes the main “game.” The eyes, face vocalizations, gestures, and body tonus take center stage.” (Stern, 2010, p. 106). Subsequently, as the baby is able to control movements more, they more easily mirror their social partner. Dads are particularly good at playing with their children and through such play the child is learning scripts for social relationships.
These are the building blocks of the bond that they will share with that baby forever. Even before birth, babies spend many weeks getting to know their father’s voice. Fathers can read or speak to their baby to enhance this bond and encourage language development. Fathers can also change diapers and offer bottle feeds, in addition to rocking, holding (including skin-to-skin/kangaroo care), soothing, and playing with their newborns.
By the age of 2, babies were tested by seeing if they recognized colors and shapes.
A research was implemented by the team from Imperial College London, King’s College London, and Oxford University. The study filmed fathers playing with their 3-month-old babies for 3 minutes on a mat on the floor, without toys. After the child turned 2 years old, they returned to make a video of them again during a book-reading session.
They noticed that the babies who experienced a strong engagement with their fathers at the age of 3 months were able to score well on tests by the age of 2, like recognizing shapes and colors. Compared to babies who experienced withdraws from their fathers.
How good father can help toddler develop their cognitive development?
Reading activities are great for toddlers. In addition to the primary results and discussions, it was announced that reading activities are beneficial for attention, problem-solving, and language. Hence, fathers who’ve taken the time to read to their children since an early age, in a calm and sensitive way, contributed to their cognitive development.
Infant’ self-control can improve if they get more playtime with dad
The researchers learned that fathers are much more physical and active when it comes to playing with their young ones. Even with infants, fathers display a very hands-on approach with their kids during playtime. Ultimately, the researchers found that this was beneficial for kids’ development. This type of play creates better self-control and behavioral outcomes.
The study found that when fathers and kids engaged in this way, the kids were less likely to lose their tempers with other kids, had better temperaments, and exhibited better behavior overall. However, the researchers explained that mothers can certainly fulfill this role with their children. The style of play — being able to chase and run — is what gives kids the opportunity to learn self-control.
“Children are likely to benefit most if they are given different ways to play and interact,” said Ramchandani.
Human beings are complex creatures whose capacities are developed mostly after birth, unlike virtually every other animal. We need dads along with moms and others, to provide the nurturing care, the parenting, that babies need to grow well.