Want Your Kids to Be Smarter? Get Dad Involved!

Want Your Kids to Be Smarter? Get Dad Involved!

New research shows that a strong bond between dads and babies brings surprising benefits for children's cognitive development!

It's the 21st century, and traditional family roles are well on the way out. Dads are becoming more involved with raising the little ones, leading to one unexpected benefit: your kids may turn out smarter!

A new study shows groundbreaking links between fathers who play an active role during baby development, and their child's better performance in cognitive tests.

The groundbreaking study


The study found that regardless of gender, 2-year-olds excelled in tasks like recognising shapes when their fathers had more quality interactions with them from young.

Conducted by researchers from Oxford University, King's College London and Imperial College London, this study recorded dads playing with their tots at 3-months old, and again at 2 years old, to analyse the quality and quantity of their interactions.

According to their findings, these are the key qualities of father-tot interactions that led to higher child cognitive development: 

Sensitivity — Tots who performed better in cognitive tests had dads who were sensitive to their cues

Warmth — Paternal remoteness was negatively associated with children's cognitive development. Children whose fathers were warmer and more engaged in play scored higher later on.

Positivity — Paternal depressive affect was also negatively linked to tots' mental development. When dads showed higher levels of positivity and enjoyment, their toddlers shone in cognitive tests. 

The dad difference

These amazing results can be explained by the importance of dads in creating a good learning environment for the little ones. According to the researchers, your child makes rapid advances in language and other symbolic competencies in his first year of life.

Withdrawn fathers communicate less with their infants, providing a less stimulating environment for cognitive skills to develop. In contrast, warm and loving dads support their tots in engaging with the world around them, enabling them to absorb new information better. 

You might be wondering whether mums have a similar impact when engaging with their little ones. Well, the researchers speculate that mums and dads may actually impact their children's development differently. Father–child interactions are "more stimulating, vigorous, and arousing", making dads a tot's  best bud in risk-taking and exploring. While there's no replacing a mother's love, dads, too, have a unique role to play in shaping the little ones into confident thinkers. 

Tips to engage with your tot

Dads, now that you know how crucial your presence is, there's no excuse not to set aside quality time each day for your little ones. Here are some ways you can build a strong dad-baby bond with your future child geniuses! 

1) Take them for a walk

Become adventurer-in-chief for your little ones! Bring them on little excursions outside, and name all the fascinating things there are to see. 

dad involved

2) Sing to them

According to the study, babies develop better when dads interact with them calmly! Dads often feel more uneasy about engaging with baby, believing they don't have a natural connection like mums do. Doing something simple and soothing, like singing to them, will calm your nerves and theirs. 

3) Have a 'conversation'

It doesn't matter if they aren't old enough to reply yet. Talk to your cooing bundle of joy about positive ideas, paying attention to how they shift their gaze and focus on you! This can train your sensitivity to your children's cues.

4) Read together

Reading is the ultimate brain-boosting activity for children. If your kids are old enough, teach them to read, and sit down together with a fun book every night. 

5) Try a baby massage 

Want Your Kids to Be Smarter? Get Dad Involved!

This is a great way to have some peaceful time with your tot, while strengthening your attentiveness to his cues. Do it mindfully and be present in the moment, watching their expression for signs of bliss or discomfort. 

ALSO READ: 5 tips for fathers to raise confident, successful daughters

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Written by

Jolene Hee

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