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Father's involvement crucial in young child's development

By Kelvin Kamau | June 20th 2021

Beverly Nicole, a City based sociologist, says the quality and content of the relationship between a father and a child can have important implications for the psychological development of the child and for the identity and role of the adult.

“While mom’s role is clearly vital, current research is beginning to highlight the unique and important role of fathers in early childhood development. Children who experience significant father involvement tend to exhibit higher scores on assessments of cognitive development, enhanced social skills and fewer behaviour problems.

“When a father is actively involved in daily care duties, an infant can become equally attached to him as to their mother. Dads who participate in bathing, feeding, and playtime can create a strong bond with their infants in the first few weeks of life. Children with engaged fathers tend to be more confident and sociable, and display better self-regulation.

“All of these take centre stage when a child starts school, and has the skills to not only thrive academically, but also form and sustain friendships with peers. What’s more, better self-regulation is correlated with fewer behavioural challenges in school.

“Children who feel close to their fathers in early childhood are less likely to struggle with depression later on in life. A secure and healthy attachment to dad can lead to stronger self-esteem and a more positive outlook. When fathers are involved and engaged, their children are more likely to be patient and have the ability to handle stressful situations. Fathers who express affection, compassion, and patience during early childhood instil a sense of security in their children. When a child feels secure, they also feel capable, assertive, and resilient.

“The loss of a father therefore can be associated with a higher vulnerability for children, both from a short and long term perspective,” Nicole says.

Esther Mbao, a psychologist, says losing a father has a great psychological impact to a child.

“A father is a firm pillar in one’s life. He gives the child identity. Losing one through death or divorce could easily lead to substance abuse, depression, less academic success and lower self-esteem.
“Losing a father at any stage is tragic because the pillar of your life is broken. There is loss of balance and one’s sense of security is lost,” says Mbao.


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