By Faith Schoenecker M.A.,CCC-SLP
Whether he’s a father, uncle, grandfather, cousin, teacher or coach, the men in our children’s lives play a critical role in the development of foundational skills. Each of our families and social relationships are constructed of unique blends of men and women who form our memories and teach lifelong lessons. Our children benefit from the guidance of both maternal and paternal role models.
Last month we celebrated the moms and maternal caregivers. The nurturers, the words of caution and verbal encouragement. This weekend, let’s take time to observe, appreciate and thank the guys for their unique teaching and parenting style.
Researchers have spent time analyzing the differences between mother’s and father’s play interactions with their children and have found distinct characteristics between the two genders. Fathers are more likely to engage their kids in rough and tumble styles of play. They are more likely to encourage their children to take more risks during play.
Further, studies have found that the quantity and type of vocabulary words used by fathers to their children vary from their maternal communication partners. For example one study found that fathers used less total language, less supportive language, less negative language and more directive and informing language than did mothers. This “to the point” communication style is further demonstrated through play interactions.
Here are some ideas on how we can expand our play routine this weekend:
Get outside: play hide and seek around the back yard, search for worms in the dirt, play tag (You’re it!), roll down the hill.
Get building: build a fort from cushions, blankets. Talk about what you’re doing, ask questions about what supplies are needed. Model the “non-word” words (ooooh!, uh oh!, wow!)
Get physical: Be airplanes, carry your little one above your or run with arms outstretched. Play “don’t touch the lava!” and jump from spot to spot using mats or paper plates in the grass. Compete in a foot race from one end of the yard or house to another (Use words like “Ready, set, go!”)
Get reading: Act out the scene of your favorite book.
Happy Father’s Day and say “Thanks!” to the special guy in your life!