The first 1-3 years: Language development and a father’s influence

Fathers play a far greater role in a toddler’s development than you may believe. Dr. David Popenoe once said, “Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home”. You, as fathers, have a highly unique impact on your child’s future outcomes in education, social behaviour, and psychological wellbeing. 

Spending quality time with them, teaching, caring and creating a safe space for them to learn, is what they need from you most during these first three years. Remember dads, quality time over quantity! 

By being involved and supportive during this critical age of learning, paves the way for the rest of their life. If you’re involved and supportive, your child will grow up to be more confident and have better social connections with their peers so, make it count now!

Top tips for using quality time to build their language development 

  1. Spend time reading to them every day – repetition, reading aloud, pointing out and naming pictures helps with language.
  2. Go for walks, spend time outside together and narrate your activities and describe what you’re doing.
  3. Encourage them to use their words. They rely on body language but once they start to talk, prompt them to use words.
  4. Give them your undivided attention, laugh with them, ask questions and engage in their interests. 
  5. Ask good questions and pause. Ask your child open-ended questions and give him or her time to respond. Try not to finish their sentences for them. For example: what was your favourite part of our trip to the zoo?
  6. Gradually expand on words and explain them. As your child progresses, begin to use different describing words that are more complex (don’t forgot to explain what they mean).
Mondays with Fathering Project founder Dr. Bruce Robinson
We want to foster connection, sharing, and collaborating in this time of isolation and need. The Fathering Channel is an online community hub and a source of research-based advice, support, and information. Tune in every Monday for Bruce’s weekly video – packed with fathering advice and tips.
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