Advice Column, Health, Parenting

Social/Emotional Development Starts with Dad

  • Barbara Harvey
  • Category Advice Column, Health, Parenting

The good news is that according to the US Census Bureau:

“Between 1960 and 2016, the percentage of children living in families with two parents decreased from 88 to 69. Of those 50.7 million children living in families with two parents, 47.7 million live with two married parents and 3.0 million live with two unmarried parents.”

The bad news is while Dad’s are living with their children they are not seeming to connect with them at early ages as much as needed. I think what we need here is to begin to recognize and accept the fact that Dads are different in how they relate to infants and young children and not only accept it but celebrate it.

How do Dad’s relate differently?

Research shows men are different right from the beginning.

* Dads hold and stare into infant faces for hours to form their bond.

* Dads never pick up a child the dame way twice

* Dads tend to allow children to struggle longer to acomplish a task and celebrate with children each time they overcome.

* Dads are more physically stimulating in how they interact with infants.

These things are not ‘bad’ just different and very important for kids. This is how they learn to relate to the world. Men are wired differently and it is this difference that allows kids to develop a sens of anticipation and excitement about life. Dad is just often more exciting to deal with than Mom. There are some women who have a hard time with this and want to protect infants from this “rough housing” not realizing this is meeting a need the infant has which can not be received any other way. Men are just naturally different with children and this builds skills in children who do not regularly relate to men have a harder time developing.

Much of the truth of this lies in the trouble children have when entering school. Social/Emotional development is the most important aspect of a child succeeding in the classroom. Children cared for by stay-at-home Dads, and male ECE teachers tend to be more resilient and have a greater ability to handle stress. Thus, they do better in kindergarten where these skills are essential in leaning to manage the more demanding world of elementary school classrooms.

Society has long thought that women ae more emotional than men. However, recent psychological studies have shown this is not the case. Men are far more emotional than women however, they are taught to keep a tight reign on these emotions. In fact, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs in an interview with Eric Metaxas spoke of a man in an argument can have his heart rate spike to 99 beats a minute which shows he is in warrior mode which if not controlled will cause him to physically strike. Women rarely get to this point in their emotional frustration level in an argument. As an early childhood educator I believe this is why when it come to young boys we see more aggressive tendencies until they learn to gain more control over their emotions. Knowing this explains why men are the actual social/emotional trainers, because they deal with emotions on a much more stringent level than women.

Dads also tend to teach kids to think things through by walking kids through the thought process asking questions which asks kids to think through a process. Before age 5-8 when the process of myelination (nerves are coated by a sheath to keep nerve impulses to travel smoothly along nerve endings.) occurs children think out loud. Men tend to pick up on this naturally. The create a bond between Dads and kids. It is this relationship which helps Dads to:

* Understand what kids are thinking and ask why

* Help kids work out problems by asking open-ended questions

* Get into the problem with the children and help them solve the answers

So, why does this matter?

Dads and their purposeful and meaningful interactions with kids help them to start off with skills, abilities, and temperaments which provide a strong foundation for thier abilities. Plugging into the role of Dad when baby is born

is the best thing for kids. Mom’s who encourage Dads to coneet and stay connected are encouraging the relationships all children beed to be able to connect with the world with confidence.

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