5 Ideas to Strengthen Father and Toddler Bonding


Father and toddler bonding is a growing area of study, and Fathers Day is a time to celebrate the wonderful fathers in the world. Having a relationship with one's dad can make a huge difference in a child's life. Studies have shown that when fathers are affectionate and helpful, their children are more likely to get along better with their brothers and sisters. A noted sociologist, Dr. David Popenoe, is one of the pioneers of the relatively young field of research into fathers and fatherhood. "Fathers are far more than just 'second adults' in the home," he says. "Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring." Here are some ways that a father can bond with his toddler and make a difference in their life.

dad with son bonding

5 Ideas to Improve Father and Toddler Bonding

1. Love Them—At the risk of being too mushy, the most important thing to say is that your son or daughter will know if they are loved by you and, if they are, will forgive you almost anything else. If you love your child it will show. Children are sensitive and intuitive beings who can’t be fooled. So if you show love to your child, you’re halfway there. You have to ask yourself, “Do I love my child and will I put his or her needs ahead of my own?” If the answer is, “Yes, I do and I will” you’ll be a great dad!

2.  Show Your Face—Modern neuro-biological research has shown that there is a part of the brain dedicated to recognizing faces. That’s all it does and if it gets damaged (in a car accident or stroke, for example—incredibly rare occurrences that have only recently been studied) that person will not to able to “do” faces. That man may be able to describe his wife’s lips, hair, and eyes in great detail but still be unable to pick out his wife’s face in a crowd. This shows us what we already know: Children and adults are constantly scanning their environment for friend or foe and making those judgments on the basis of what they see in the faces around them. A child, right from the first couple of weeks, will constantly search for his mom’s or dad’s face. He wants to know that his dad is there and that he’s OK. So, eye contact is vitally important. Keep looking at your child and smiling at him. If you look at him and smile, he will smile back. There you have it, a bond has been formed.

3. Get Down On Their Level—This might seem a small point. It is, but it’s often overlooked. When you first meet your child when you pick him up from playgroup, or whatever, get down on one knee so that you are at the same height as him or her. Nobody else will do that (except his mom). This shows the child that he has your attention and that you are listening to him. That he’s special. Angle your body so that you face him square on.

4. Listen to Them—Listen to his stories. Get involved with his world. He will come running to you with his toy figures and tell you all about them and try to explain the game he is playing with them. Why one is the good guy and the other the bad guy, and how the good guy always defeats the bad guy. Often these stories won’t make sense to you. Never mind, just repeat back to your son what he has said, like, “So the yellow one is called Jimmy?” or “The big one always loses, doesn't he?” or “We don’t like the scary one, do we?” You can then say something a bit controversial like, “But I thought the red one looked stronger than the blue one.” A statement like that might prompt one of those priceless moments where your child will enjoy correcting you and say, “But that’s just silly, daddy!”

5. Get to Know Them—Try to have special times when it’s just you and him. Routines of affection and tenderness make a child feel loved. What sort of cereal do they like and which is their favorite bowl? Where do they want to sit at the table? Do they want you to help them get dressed in the morning? Don’t assume that they are now “too big for that sort of thing”. The day will soon come when you realize that they've got themselves dressed all by themselves all week now and you’ll feel a little sadness that that part of your relationship is now gone. But then, if I’m not mistaken, a few days later he’ll ask you to tie up his shoelaces for him even though he can do it perfectly well himself. I wonder why?

If your child has difficulty going to sleep at night read to him his favorite story again and then turn the light out and cuddle up with him in bed. He’ll be snoring in a few minutes, you’ll see!

What are ways you have bonded with your father?

Picture courtesy of Flickr 

This article was supplied by Joe Shervell for, UK-based suppliers of natural, organic mattresses’.
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