Fatherhood can be an incredibly challenging yet fulfilling and rewarding journey.
But how can you jumpstart that journey?
Is there a recipe for success that will turn you into the best dad just like that?
Being a good father is easier than you might think. I’ll tell you why. For starters, it doesn’t require a college degree to be a great dad. On top of that, your performance review will be done by somebody who can be easily bribed(Of course, I’m kidding! NEVER do that!)
Joking apart, your toddler already thinks the world of you. All they need from daddy is to be all in, stick around and never give up on them even when things get complicated.
The rest will take care of itself.
Wondering how to be a good dad to a toddler right from the get-go?
Let’s see why your toddler needs your involvement and how you can be a great dad to them.
Why Toddlers Need a Good Father Figure
Due to the rise of single-parent families, unmarried parents, and same-gender parents, maternal and paternal roles have changed significantly over the past few decades.
60% of American children live with 2 biological parents or just with their father.
Toddlers benefit from a father figure to teach them right from wrong, identify and meet their physical and emotional needs and make them feel secure. Research has shown that a father’s engagement plays a crucial role in young children’s cognitive and social-emotional development.
A supportive and involved father figure is necessary for a child’s academic success, higher self-esteem, and emotional development.
It’s equally important for boys’ and girls’ social and cognitive development.
A young boy with an engaged father is less likely to use substances, display behavioral disorders in school, and fight with other kids. A girl with an active father figure is less likely to suffer from mental health issues like depression.
Children blessed with positively engaged fathers are more likely to achieve personal and professional success later in life. A toddler’s relationship with their dad influences their future relationships, overall happiness, and well-being.
While having an active father figure doesn’t necessarily ensure a successful future for a toddler, it certainly increases its likelihood.
13 Ways You Can Be a Good Dad to Your Toddler
Here are some tips for fathers who are going out of their way to make their little one’s childhood amazing.
Spend Time with Your Child
If you’re a working dad, you can’t spend the whole day with your toddler (no matter how much you want).
Make sure to check up on them when you get home. Ask them what they did when you were at work, read them a bedtime story, and put them down if possible.
If you come home late and they’re already dead asleep, give them a goodnight kiss and try to make up for it over the weekend. Wondering what you can do together?
Making a giant floor maze with cardboard, solving a puzzle together, or simply building a fort are great ways to boost your dad-child bonding.
A great daddy-daughter activity that dads can try out with their little princess is singing their favorite song and dancing with them. If you want to be a good father, then learn those dance moves!
Give Them Undivided Attention
Ask them questions. Listen to their stories, even if you’d rather do something else after a long day.
You might not understand why their toys were in a fight today or why they can’t stop talking about bugs!
Well, you don’t have to. Just act surprised and go along. See how their eyes sparkle when you show interest in their stories.
Make sure to put the electronics away, turn the TV off and be present in the moment.
Take Your Toddler Outside
Getting your toddler outside promotes their cognitive development and motor skills. Try to instill a love of nature in your kid at a young age.
Try to carve a few minutes daily to play catch, throw or kick a ball.
You can also explore the night sky with them or stroll around the neighborhood.
Take them to the park or playground whenever you can.
Watch Sports with Them
Let them tag along if you’re planning to watch your favorite sports on TV. Sit together with your favorite snacks.
While they might not seem interested initially, want to do something else, or ask you many questions, don’t snap at them.
Patiently explain the game’s rules, make it fun for them, and maybe you can take them to the stadium to watch the next game together.
Read to Your Toddler
I get it. There are days when you get home, and your child is fast asleep. That makes it hard even to read them bedtime stories. But you can easily make it a weekend ritual. Instilling a love of reading not only grows their vocabulary but also nurtures their creativity and imagination.
Stay in Control
Your toddler knows how to push your buttons and drive you crazy. But no matter how angry you get, don’t shout, swear or hit your kid under any circumstances. Instead, be patient, take a timeout to cool down, and discipline them when you’re calm.
Practice What You Preach
Your little son or daughter notices everything you say or do and likes to mirror your words, facial expressions, and gestures. So you need to model good behavior, which means no swearing, shouting, or slamming the door when they’re around (not even when you’re fuming).
Remember to thank you when your toddler tries to help or do something nice for you. Say ‘sorry’ if you forgot to bring the snack you promised or missed watching their favorite cartoon together. It’ll teach them how to take responsibility after making a mistake.
Be affectionate with your toddler.
Tell your toddler how much you love them and remind them often. There’s no such thing as too many hugs or kisses. No, you’re not spoiling them with your affection. If anything, you’re helping them to form a secure attachment with you to promote their social-emotional development.
Give Them Choices
Nobody likes to follow orders all the time.
Your toddler is no different.
Having a say over what they want to eat for lunch or what outfit they can wear that day gives children some control over their life. It can help your toddler learn how to make their own decisions.
Learning this from an early age helps them to turn into responsible adults. Giving them the option to choose doesn’t mean letting them eat all the chocolates they want. Instead, provide them with a choice between two healthy snacks or two outfits of your choice and let them pick one.
Eat Meals Together
Family mealtime is a great way to improve the parent-child relationship. It allows fathers to spend time with their kids after a busy day. It will enable your toddler to feel connected to you and develops a strong sense of belonging in them.
Treat Your Partner with Respect
Since your toddler learns from you, disrespecting their mom/the other parent teaches them that it’s acceptable to treat others that way. So, try to avoid fighting, yelling, or disrespecting your partner in any way in front of your kids.
When disciplining your toddler, work together with your partner as a team. Don’t be too lenient to be the favorite parent and make parenting decisions together regardless of your relationship status or living arrangement. It’s never a good idea to undermine the other parent.
Let Kids Be Kids
Your kid does things a little differently than others? Let them be. Don’t try to mold them to be something they aren’t.
Give them the freedom to be who they want to be. Meanwhile, let them play a lot and enjoy their childhood.
Practice Positive Discipline
Disciplining a 2-year-old can be tricky. Sure, they need your help to learn self-control and appropriate behavior, but you don’t want to punish them. Positive discipline means teaching them right from wrong, setting firm limits, and giving them appropriate consequences.
It is meant to teach them how not to make the same mistake again. While teaching your children how to manage their big emotions and take responsibility for their actions, don’t forget to reward them for good behavior.
Being a father can change your life on so many levels. Taking care of a little person who idolizes and trusts you with all their heart can sometimes feel overwhelming. But, even if you feel like you have no idea what you’re supposed to do, you’re still doing a fantastic job just by being there.
They’ll soon grow up and turn into an independent adult. Meanwhile, have fun, laugh a little louder and be their role model.
L. M. Monte, “Fertility Research Brief,” Current Population Reports, P70BR-147, March 2017