The importance of father-child bonding

If you’re a dad who wants to develop a bond with your child but aren’t sure how to do so, you can try some of the following ideas…

 There’s no doubt that dads bond with their children in their own special ways.

Bonding with your child is important but sometimes life can get busy and if you are juggling a career and parenthood, finding the time to connect with your child can be challenging.

A growing body of research has shown that when dads spend time with their children and begin developing a strong relationship with them from the very beginning, they reap a number of benefits. Fathers experience less stress and increased confidence when they have their own special time with their children. Strong father-child bonds can also help counter issues such as depression later on in life.

We chat with educational psychologist, Ilze van der Merwe-Alberts from the Bella Vida Centre in Johannesburg on how dads can nurture the bond with their child(ren).

How to bond with your baby

  1. Help your partner to bath Baby, or take turns. Most babies love water, and the two of you will have a splashing fun time. You can also bond with your little one by changing her nappy now and then and giving her a bottle.
  2. Read a simple book with colourful pictures and patterns to your baby.
  3. Play peek-a-boo with her. You can also play this game with a toy, which you can hide behind the couch or a wall and then make it reappear again. Look surprised when the toy reappears and add commentary like “I see you!” or “hello, baby”.
  4. Put on some music and dance with your baby – gently hold her and sway to the rhythm of the music.
  5. Play dress-up with her – put silly things like saucepans or a cushion on your head. This will bring out the giggles.
  6. Bounce your baby on your legs. Sit on a chair and let your baby sit on your knees and then bounce her up and down by rapidly raising your ankles and then lowering them.
  7. You can also let her sit on one ankle and bounce her by lifting your leg up and down.
  8. Play flying games with your baby. Sit on a chair and lay baby on your thighs, so that she’s looking down past your knees. Make sure you have a firm grip on her before moving your leg around in smooth, gliding movements.
  9. If your baby likes swimming, whoosh her up and out of the water and down again while holding her around her chest.
  10. Walk outside with your baby in her pram, point out things to see, and tell her about what’s going on.
  11. Lie next to her on the floor and use a torch to trace patterns on the ceiling and walls of the room.

How to bond with your toddler and older child

  1. Help your toddler get dressed in the morning and alternate days with your partner to drop her off at crèche or preschool.
  2. Eat breakfast with your children.
  3. Read a bedtime story to her every night and tuck her in.
  4. Spend some one-on-one time with your child – take her out for a picnic or to the zoo.
  5. Build towers with her using building blocks.
  6. Kick a ball outside in the garden.
  7. Allow your child to help you with chores such as sweeping or shaving – give her a little brush to help you sweep or let her put foam on your face before you shave.
  8. Play hide and seek with your children.
  9. Help them make cards for grandpa and grandma or mom.
  10. Have a treasure hunt in the garden – hide toys and leave notes all around the house to tell them where to find the treasure.
  11. Take your children to a fun playground where they can play on the jungle gym and run around freely.
  12. Take the kids swimming – there are lots of fun games that can be played in the water.
  13. Let your kids help you with the gardening – they’ll love digging in the ground alongside you.
  14. Take them on a camping trip for a weekend.
  15. Call your children from work and ask them how their day is going and if they’re having fun.