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Age-Appropriate Father-Child Activities (page 3)

— Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center
Updated on Feb 19, 2010

Activities fathers can do with two-to-three-year-olds:

  • Provide a safe place where your child can play and run. Take your child outside as much as possible to run in the yard or park. Encourage her or him to jump, climb and roll down hills in ways appropriate for his or her age. Encourage children to push limits, BUT in healthy, reasonable ways. This builds confidence and good judgment in taking reasonable risks in life.
  • Read to your child everyday. Read books, magazines, signs you see on the street. Help your child learn that reading is a normal and natural part of life. Even fathers who are not strong readers can make up stories to go along with pictures. The important experiences are closeness, hearing language, and seeing that words correspond to pictures and make a story.
  • Play ball with your child. Teach him or her to catch, throw and kick a ball in age-appropriate ways. This teaches coordination, and it’s fun to play with dad. This can be worked into organized outside play time.
  • Help your child learn to use the potty. Help her or him understand that everyone makes mistakes when they are potty training. Never punish a child for an accident.
  • Continue saying “I love you.” (Find creative ways to help fathers understand why they are special.)
  • Encourage your child to ask questions. Answer them with short, simple answers. Father/child groups can encourage such questioning interaction.
  • Teach your child what words are acceptable and which are not, when they are heard.
  • Teach your child that being kind, gracious, and honest are some of the most important things in the world.
  • Let children know what you expect and why. Let children know what they should strive to live up to. (A father peer group is a good place to stimulate thinking about proper expectations for children. Give fathers an opportunity to communicate these expectations to their children.)
  • Create small, silly or fun secrets with your child. Have a special place that just you two like, and no one else knows about. Share a secret handshake or joke. This private sharing builds a strong bond between father and child and makes the child feel special and important.
  • Participate in the child’s favorite activites, whether it is splashing in puddles, drawing with crayons, playing dress-up, or examining bugs on the ground.

Activities fathers can do with four-year-olds and older:

  • During meals, ask your child the best thing about their day. Answer the question yourself in return.
  • Keep going for walks and throwing balls together.
  • Meet and be interested in your child’s friends.
  • Really watch your child as he or she plays. Help fathers learn how to give encouragement and compliments on how well the child does.
  • Ask your child about things he or she would like to learn and then make plans to learn them together.
  • Teach your son and daughter how to do “man jobs,” for example, fixing the car or hammering.
  • Make regular visits to the library and to discuss favorite books. (Help father and child know how empowering it feels to have a library card.)
  • Let your child see you enjoying books or magazines.
  • Talk to your child about goals and dreams. (Let fathers talk about their own goals to their children.)
  • Initiate discussions with children about what they want to do when they grow up and visit appropriate workplaces.
  • Listen to your child’s favorite music. Help children develop a taste for and understanding of many different kinds of music.
  • Do activities where you can laugh together.
  • Tell your child stories about when you were little. Let children know about mistakes you made and things you did right!
  • Help build your child’s imagination and language by making up creative stories with them. Start a story and let children add in key parts: “The horses were all the color of ____________ and the best part is they could all _________________ whenever they wanted. And after the horses left the magic mountain, they all started to __________________, which really made everyone laugh!
  • Be creative in developing activities that fathers can do with their children. Help fathers understand that these things can be done at home, while driving, or anywhere. Encourage fathers to come up with ideas and activities of their own.
  • Encourage fathers to get involved in their child’s everyday routines, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and taking a nap. Often, these are opportunities for intimate, close interactions that include a lot of physical nurturing and verbal exchange.
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