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New Dads Really Do Affect Infant Behavior!

Posted by Vincent DiCaro

Dad with Infant Girl

Have you ever wondered how important father involvement is for infants?

 

I mean, does a two-month-old really notice the differences between a dad and a mom, and do those differences even matter?

Apparently, they do.

A new report from The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (April, 2012), found that “disengaged and remote interactions between fathers and their infants were found to predict externalising behavioural problems at the age of 1 year.”

Based on this finding, the researchers conclude that “these [disengaged] interactions may be critical factors to address, from a very early age in thechild’s life, and offer a potential opportunity for preventive intervention.” 

The key phrase there is “preventive intervention;” that is the “business” National Fatherhood Initiative is in. And we have been especially mindful of the need to provide hospitals and community-based organizations with the tools and skill-building materials they need to educate and inspire fathers in the earliest stages of a child’s life. More on that in a moment.

Regarding the research findings above, the researchers defined disengaged or remote interactions as ones “where a father is silent or not engaged with the infant.” I think all parents have been there. There are times when parents are caring for their baby out of obligation, but they are just not that into it --- they may be tired, stressed, or just in a bad mood. Amazingly, infants notice this! They sense the lack of interest and engagement, and it has an impact on them. Dads can be especially vulnerable to pulling the “silent treatment” when they are doing something they don’t want to do. But this research is another powerful reminder of just how important their active engagement is in their children’s lives, even when their children are infants. 

But how do you get fathers to the point where they know how to interact in an engaged fashion? Many of the dads you work with grew up in father-absent homes and have never seen a good dad in action. 

It starts with knowledge and confidence. When dads have those two tools at their disposal, their level of engagement with their infants skyrockets. 

NFI’s Doctor Dad™ workshops help build this confidence and knowledge by increasing fathers’ health literacy in the areas of infant and toddler health and safety. There are four workshops: The Well Child, The Sick Child, The Safe Child, and The Injured Child. Presented as 60-90 minute stand-alone workshops, or as supplemental sessions to your current fatherhood programming, Doctor Dad™ Workshops can be presented individually or as a series of four to cover all the areas of need your clients have.

Take it from me: When men feel like they know how to do something well, they do it with passion!  

Tell Us: What are you doing to address the health literacy of the dads you work with?

 

Topics: Doctor Dad, fathering, new dads, infant, behavior, The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, fatherhood program tips

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