5 concrete reasons why dads should read to their kids more
Dads, it's time to brush up on your storybook reading skills! You'll find out after reading this article just how reading to your little ones can benefit both you and them...
Recent and very interesting research — headed by Dr Elisabeth Duursma of Harvard University, USA — revealed that when dads read bedtime stories, it can actually be better for their child’s development than when mums read.
We just love anything that promotes a great relationship between dads and their little ones. So because of this and because we think reading is awesome in general, here are five reasons why dads should be reading to their kids more:
1. It promotes father-child bonding
Traditionally, nightime rituals such as bathtime and reading a bedtime story often happen between mummy and child.
But when you think about it, reading a bedtime story to their little ones is a great way for fathers to bond with their children, especially if they are away from each other for most of the day.
After reading the story, dads also get the opportunity to give their kids a cuddle and kiss and also ask them about their day.
All this is so important to the overall development of the child, as proven by research.
2. Dads have the ability to look beyond the story
Whether mum or dad does the reading, there’s no doubt that there are a host of benefits for the child, the improvement of language skills being one of them.
But when dad reads, he will usually “link the narrative to something more pertinent to the child”, explains Rob Kemp (author of The New Dad’s Survival Guide), writing for The Telegraph.
So while mums often focus on characters’ feelings when reading to their little ones, dad are more likely to link the story to something that the child can relate to through experience.
Dr Duursma, who led the study mentioned at the beginning of this article says, “Dad is more likely to say something like, ‘Oh look, a ladder. Do you remember when I had that ladder in my truck?’”
By doing this, a child’s language development gets a boost because they need to use their brains more to respond to such questions.
3. Girls and boys benefits from daddy’s stories
While Dr Duursma’s study highlighted the developmental benefits girls receive when their fathers read to them, other studies show “how doing the bedtime read is one of the strongest forms of ‘bonding’ between fathers and sons”, says Kemp.
4. It’s a stress-buster for a dad
The bedtime story routine is not just calming for children — it’s calming for dad too.
Kemp highlights research conducted by the University of Sussex that shows reading is a great way to overcome stress — “participants experienced relaxed muscle tension and decreased heart rate within six minutes of turning pages.”
A study by The Literacy Trust, UK also reports on the many benefits for storybook-reading dads, such as “greater skill acquisition, greater confidence and self-esteem, a better father-child relationship, and increased engagement with learning,” says Kemp.
5. It helps create gender balance in parenting
Gone are the days when only mum ran the parenting show and dad was just a sometimes-contributor. Dads these days are more involved than ever in raising their children and are just as capable as mums of doing an awesome job at it.
By reading bedtime stories to their little ones, fathers are helping to re-define gender stereotypes present in the parenting world.
They are taking over roles that are traditionally handed over to mum — such as a child’s bedtime ritual, including reading stories. By doing so, they are helping add balance to parenting, while contributing to their child’s holistic development in a big way.
Mums, who reads the bedtime story to the kids in your house — you or your partner? And dads, what’s your favourite story ever to read to the kids? Tell us by leaving a comment below.