The role of mothers in the cognitive development of children has been documented extensively; however, research has also started focusing on the contributions of fathers, grandfathers and other male influencers. Having a male input during the early stages of the child’s life can shape their future in many ways. Children as young as three months can show indications for male involvement. This is because the role of fathers or men was deemed more playful and stimulating, and this helped the child develop an approach toward exploration. The latest study was performed on fathers and three month old children.
Of course, you can’t generalise across entire genders, but on the whole, fathers were found to interact with their children in a freewheeling and spontaneous manner, without the use of toys and tools. A study was also performed on the children when they were two years old and the father read a book to them. The interactions between the fathers and their children were rated by researchers with expertise in assessing infant cognitive development. Also, the children were tested in aspects such as colour and shape recognition. More than 120 sets of fathers and children were studied. There was some indication that fathers who are more involved with children at the age of three months, can help boost brain development for children by the time they are older.
The outcomes remain regardless of the child’s gender or income and age of the father. The quality of the interactions has a major impact on the outcomes. Fathers who showed less engagement with children could be a contributory factor towards children scoring lower in tests. Researchers were of the opinion that the distant behaviour of the father might be hampering the child’s learning development because the child was unable to receive cues that help support communication and build social skills. On the other hand, fathers who are more involved with the children, offer sensitive and calm interactions, are correlated with children who show better cognitive development in later life. The skills attained by these children include attention span, language, socialisation, and solving problems.
A separate study has also delved into the issue of how fathers perceive their role as parents. Fathers who showed more confidence and positive approach toward their role as fathers were less likely to be correlated with children with behavioural problems in their teens. Children with fathers who were enthusiastic about fatherhood were less likely to be associated with behavioural problems in pre-teen years. These studies prove that the role of fathers is critical to shaping the child’s cognitive development. In addition to interacting with children, fathers also need to ensure that the quality of interactions is good.
This offers the best outcomes, ensuring that the child becomes bolder and more inquisitive. Fathers who feel positively about their parental role are likely to offer better outcomes for children, who are less likely to show behaviour problems in the pre-teen years. Since there is a lot of research on the role of mothers in shaping cognitive capabilities of children, the research on the role of fathers is expected to fill a gap and throw more light on how the type of interactions offered by the fathers can shape cognitive development of the child.