5 Things Pediatricians Believe All Dads Must Know
Experts agree that these five important things will help dads reach their "full parenting potential"
Most paediatricians will agree that being a good dad greatly impacts a child’s health and well-being.
They’re more than just mum’s “helper”; they are an important part of parenting, with a unique role to fulfil.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has assessed studies over the course of a decade and released their findings from experts on how dads can reach their “full parenting potential”.
“The role of fathers, and fatherhood, is in the process of changing,” Raymond Levy, a clinical psychologist from Massachusetts General Hospital, told the Los Angeles Times.
The past decade has seen continuous in traditional roles; many dads are choosing to stay at home with their kids.
One study they reviewed, which was published in the journal Development and Psychopathology in 2012, took into account pairs of sisters whose fathers’ involvement in their life differed. What researchers found was an increased risk of early pregnancy for those who grew up with absentee dads.
Other studies also found that children who grew up with fathers who made time for them were less prone to develop behavioural and psychological problems. These children exhibited independence, intelligence, and deep social awareness.
From these studies, the AAP was able to broaden their definition of what being a father means; he is not merely a man who “sires” children, but a male adult who is “most invested” in caring for a child, whether they are the biological dad, adoptive dad, stepdad or grandfather.
1. Be a good role model
Children look up to their dads and often imitate what they’re doing. Fathers should be mindful of the great impact every little thing they say or do has on their kids.
A father’s involvement in their child’s growth and development greatly encourages them to learn and grow up to be well-adjusted individuals.
2. Talk to your kids
Spending time with them means being invested in them as a person. This enhances their ability to communicate and verbalise what they’re feeling.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology in 2006 claims that a child’s language proficiency is greatly affected by their father’s vocabulary early on in life.
3. Stay fit and healthy
Healthy and happy dads raise healthy and happy kids. Make sure you take care of yourself by getting the latest vaccines and immunisation as well as adopting healthy eating habits. Getting enough exercise and having regular check-ups are absolutely important things dads must not take for granted.
4. Get screened for depression
It’s not just their physical well-being that dads should pay close attention to; they should also be on the lookout for signs of emotional instability.
Postpartum depression can also affect dads. But it can also strike fathers of older children. A study published the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that 20% of dads suffered depression by the time their child was 12 years old.
5. Play with your kids
A large part of investing time and effort in your kids is having fun with them. The way dads play helps them form a sense of adventure; it encourages them to explore, be curious, and be independent. All while feeling that their need for safety and protection is fulfilled.
Researchers have also found that when dads get involved in exploratory playtime with their kids, it raises their body’s level of oxytocin, which is also known as the “love hormone”.