GHS Cares: Top Tips for Dads

6/12/2018

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads! My son was born just 11 weeks ago, so this year Father’s Day carries a whole new meaning for me. 

 

A father’s role in a child’s life is vitally important. The benefits to a child of having an involved father are significant and too numerous to list here. But, to put it simply, those benefits can be life-changing. With that in mind, I want to share a few suggestions that I have offered many times in the clinic and am now starting to put into practice for myself. 

 

1.     Play.   How you play and connect with your child will vary based on his age, but, nonetheless, it is helpful to him at all stages of development. As a newborn, play will mostly take the form of cuddling him. We know that skin-to-skin time facilitates bonding while at the same time helps to regulate your new baby’s temperature and heart rate.  When your child is a toddler, he is curious about the world around him; engage his imagination and creativity.  If he has an imaginary friend, include him too! As he gets older, strive to be active outdoors. It is always nice for him to get some fresh air instead of sitting behind a screen while also reaping the many benefits that come with being physically active.  

 

2.     Teach. I remember when my dad taught me how to cut the grass. I remember complaining to him that I had to use a push mower instead of a riding mower. He responded by getting me another push mower to use — one of the old push mowers that did not have a motor.  I never again complained about having to use a motorized push mower.  I’m looking forward to imparting these kinds of life lessons to my son.  Another way to teach is to help your child with her homework. When you can, make learning fun and always encourage your child to ask questions.

 

3.     Read.  I talk about reading at almost every well-child visit. Early literacy education will prove to be invaluable to your child. Read aloud to your child daily — and start early during infancy. Reading has all sorts of benefits for your child ranging from improving their speech and vocabulary skills, promoting brain development, and enhancing social-emotional development.

 

4.     Listen.  I know I just finished imploring you to talk to your child frequently, but let’s not underestimate the value of truly listening to your son or daughter.  Especially as your children get older, the importance of listening and being aware of what’s going on in your child’s life cannot be stressed enough. Make sure she knows that she can talk to you about anything no matter what. Devote your full attention to her when she talks to you.  One tip is to ask her open-ended questions rather than questions to which she can respond with 1-word answers such as “yes” or “no.” This will help to promote a back-and-forth dialogue.

 

 

Dr. Kelly Hayes is a board-certified Pediatrician expanding community access to quality pediatric care at Granville Primary Care--Oxford. The practice is located at 1032 College Street in Oxford.

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