Why are Dads so important for Speech and Language Development in the Early Years?
Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there!
I know that Mums and Dads are crucial to the success of therapy. Over the years the roles of the speech-language therapist and parent have changed a great deal. Parents are no longer observers of the therapy; they are an essential part of their child’s intervention. This shift in roles is based upon the following:
- Children learn to communicate during everyday activities and conversations with the important people in their lives – mainly their parents
- Parents have many more opportunities to interact with their child in meaningful everyday situations than a therapist does
- Parents know their child best and are her/his first teacher (Hanen 2014)
A lot of therapy now a days is geared towards supporting the maternal relationship, without considering the significant role that fathers play. Further, research shows that a high level of involvement by fathers has many positive benefits for children and strengthens early childhood development: Check out these top research facts from the Fatherhoodinstitute.org
Such early, sensitive involvement by dads continues to deliver benefits. At age five, their children know and use more words, can pick out letters more accurately, and are better at problem solving; by age ten, their vocabulary is wider and their maths skills are better, too (McKelvey et al, 2010).
Verbal exchanges between fathers and their infants and between mothers and their infants are each found independently and uniquely to predict pre-schoolers’ social competence and lower aggression. These, in turn, shape their verbal skills in adolescence (Feldman et al, 2013).
Pre-schoolers whose dads read and talk to them a lot behave and concentrate better at nursery, and do better in maths as well (Baker, 2013)
Young children with two unsupportive parents score lowest on language development (Martin et al, 2007).
Toddlers with two supportive parents do best of all (Ryan et al, 2011)
Baker, C.E , 2014. African American fathers’ contributions to children’s preschool reading and math achievement: evidence from two-parent families from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth Cohort. Early Education and Development, 25(1), pp.19-35
Feldman, R., Bamberger, E. and Kanat-Maymon, Y., 2013. Parent-specific reciprocity from infancy to adolescence shapes children’s social competence and dialogical skills. Attachment and Human Development, 5(4),pp.407-23
McKelvey, L, Schiffman, R. and Fitzgerald, H.E., 2010. Father behaviour in interaction with toddlers. Poster presentation at the 11th biennial meeting of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, Leipzig, Germany.
Martin, A., Rebecca M. Ryan, R.M, and Brooks-Gunn, J., 2007. The joint influence of mother and father parenting on child cognitive outcomes at age 5. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 22 (4), pp.423–439.
Ryan, R.M., Martin, A. and Brooks-Gunn, J., 2006. Is one good parent good enough? patterns of mother and father parenting and child cognitive outcomes at 24 and 36 months. Parenting 6(2/3), pp.211 – 228