Are Millennial Dads More Active In Child Rearing?

Millennial dads are redefining fatherhood. Their progressive beliefs and behaviors—seemingly more prevalent than in prior generations—are shattering the tired media stereotype of the disconnected dad.

In ages past, the typical father would come home from work, read the newspaper, and remain relatively disconnected from his children. His breadwinning and rule making made him the ideal father. However, millennial dads define parenthood in terms that expand beyond just financial security and into the realm of attentive engagement with their little ones. This new generation of fathers seems to be deeply committed to supporting their partners, fostering familial bonds, and paternal involvement in their children’s personal development.

Although some may perceive millennial fatherhood as “soft” or too involved, a number of research studies suggest otherwise.

When Dad Is Engaged Everyone Wins 

The Children

Are children benefitting from dads’ hands-on involvement? The research implies that the answer is a resounding “yes.” A group of international researchers (Sarkadi et al, 2007) examined eighteen research studies on the influence of fathers’ involvement on children’s developmental outcomes. They found overwhelming evidence indicating that playful, nurturing, and consistent paternal care has a positive impact on children’s behavioral, cognitive, social and psychological development.

Involved dads are more likely to positively influence their children’s emotional well-being, creativity, critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and academic achievement. In addition, children with involved fathers tend to develop a higher general sense of worth. Studies suggest this is directly related to dad’s willingness to give time, care, and attention to their children.


Old-fashioned gender roles no longer function well in the 21st century, and for many modern-day families, they need to be redefined. Most families are recognizing that parenting isn’t a moms-only domain. In today’s North American culture, either parent can be the primary breadwinner or the primary caregiver, depending on the specific needs of each family. Many dual-career couples face challenging decisions about the balance between careers and parenting responsibilities. Especially during their children’s early years, it is important for parents to have discussions about the joint responsibilities of wage-earning and care-giving.

A 2012 study, “The New Dad: Right at Home,” highlighted that, “fathers can be excellent primary caregivers and through doing so can help support the career development and earning potential of their spouses.” Dads are stepping up. They take their toddlers to the park so moms can take a shower; they clean the kitchen so moms can meet important deadlines at work. One in five millennial dads are fully responsible for childcare tasks, from carpools to coordinating play dates. Over 60% of fathers report that they have some degree of responsibility for their children’s bedtime routine, bath time, medical appointments, or morning routine.

Most of us know that parenting is not easy. When dad helps out with the tasks that have been traditionally considered to be in mom’s realm, everyone wins.


Although newborns typically spend most of their time being nurtured by moms, dad’s role is also essential. Time spent with the baby in the early weeks and months provides a positive foundation for developing a strong relationship as the child grows, making fatherhood more rewarding and enjoyable.

58% of millennial dads place family before work. A study published by The Academy of Management Perspectives in 2015 showed that working dads who spend more time with their children enjoy greater levels of job satisfaction than those who do not. The study also suggested that the more time men spend with their children, the less central their careers are to their identities. Perhaps learning from the habits of their fathers and grandfathers, many millennial fathers seem to recognize that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”

Nine in ten millennial dads actively strive to improve their parenting and to forge their own unique parenting paths. The Internet has provided many avenues to help dads on their parenting journeys. Instead of asking friends or family for parenting advice, over 80% of millennial dads turn to Google and YouTube for fatherhood tips and guides. These sources can help men answer questions about everything from baby’s health to preparing child-friendly and nutritious meals to building safe tree houses. Expectant and new millennial dads frequently make online purchases to respond to their children’s needs. From car seats and strollers to educational tools and toys, dads are conscientious decision-makers when deciding what to purchase. Safety, quality, online reviews, and peer recommendations play central roles in this process, and dads are willing to pay premium prices for products that meet their standards.

Father’s Day is a time to celebrate great dads, especially those who experience the joy and feel the priceless reward of being involved parents. To show your appreciation for any soon-to-be millennial dad in your life, give him a gift that supports what will come to mean the most to him—his child. If he values strong early childhood development and lifelong learning, this gift could mean the world to him and his future child.


#babyplus, #dad, #fathersday, #millennialdads, #dads-to-be, #parenting, #childdevelopment

How To Boost A Child’s Focus And Attention Span

The ability to focus can determine your life’s direction and even your ability to accomplish goals or develop new habits. Early in life most children have shorter attention spans than adults.  Some children, however, have far more problems focusing and staying on task than others. This lack of focus may prevent them from realizing their full potential later in life.  A healthy attention span is often necessary not only for academic success but also for creative and athletic endeavors as well.

The good news is the gift of focus can be cultivated early in life through enriching the child’s environment with the right sounds at the right time and by choosing activities at home which encourage focus and attention.

Age Appropriate Puzzles

First, putting together puzzles helps to boost a child’s concentration as he or she develops.  When selecting them be sure to pick age appropriate choices.  For children under the age of two, offer wooden knobbed puzzles that are outlines of simple shapes and fit easily into board cutouts.  Next, your child can move on to puzzles with more complex images. Cartoon characters, musical instruments and transportation illustrations are always a hit with toddlers. Allow them to choose the puzzles they like. Doing so can increase the amount of time a puzzle receives, heightening concentration. When children work on puzzles they enjoy, they often will develop strategies to finish the puzzle efficiently–doing all the edge pieces first, for instance, or separating the pieces according to colors.

Physical Activities

Next, increasing a child’s fitness level can do wonders for their attention span.  A large randomized controlled trial in the US examined the effects of daily afterschool sports activities over a school year. As the children got in better shape, they also became more proficient at multitasking, ignoring distractions and retaining information.

Furthermore, when physical activity is used as a break from academic learning time this can result in improved on-task behaviors, healthier attention spans, and enhanced academic performance.

Parents can play a pivotal role encouraging their children to become physically active by helping them choose activities that get their heart rate up.  Below are some ideas to consider:

  • Dancing: ballet, hip hop, modern, tap
  • Martial arts: boxing, karate, kick boxing, taekwondo
  • Racket sports: badminton, tennis, ping pong, squash
  • Recess games: dodge ball , playing tag, skipping, red rover
  • Skating: skateboarding, in-line skating
  • Team sports: basketball, football, hockey, soccer

Foods and Supplements

Often overlooked, over indulging in foods like bacon, popcorn and soda and junk food with little nutritional density can affect a child’s ability to focus and cause brain fog.  Incorporating foods that naturally contain Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) such as fatty fish (i.e. sardines, salmon and mackerel) in your child’s diet can has been proven to improve concentration naturally.  If your child is not a big fan of fish, DHA fish oil supplements are widely available for children.

Equally as dangerous, a magnesium deficiency can bring about decreased attention span and mental confusion.  This much need mineral calms the brain down and helps children to focus.  Foods that are high in magnesium include dark leafy greens, quinoa, cashews and walnuts.

Foods containing B vitamins can improve alertness in children. Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause low energy, which in turn lessens the ability to focus.  And so, be sure that your child is getting adequate amounts of healthy animal proteins, such as grass-fed beef and lamb loaded with B12. Choline, another B vitamin, helps with development of memory stem cells and is readily available in eggs.

A study published in Magnesium Research in 2006 found that giving ADHD-diagnosed children a cocktail of magnesium and vitamin B6 significantly improved inattentiveness.  B6 is found in foods like avocados, pistachios, turkey, meats and whole grains.

Remove Distractions

No child should be living like a scattered grad student surrounded by clutter. Keeping an orderly living space creates an environment that is structured and cultivates a child’s ability to increase his or her attention span and focus on one activity at a time.  It is, therefore, important to not only round up the toys, clothes, crafts etc at the end of the day, but to teach your child to put away things once finished. This also includes putting away all the screens—television, smart phones, tablet computers and especially game consoles.

While there are clear benefits that come with using electronic media, over-exposure can have a negative impact on attention. In a 2010 study, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the children (ages 8-18), outside of school time, spend practically every moment of the day using electronic devices. Whatever happened to ‘go and play outside’? If you want to save your child from becoming a disappointing statistic, set some sensible daily time limits. Once your child reaches the limit, suggest they go outside and spend time in nature.  Last Child in the Woods is a great book for parents to read. It deals with children growing up in a culture bombarded with electronic media, disconnected from nature. The book makes a compelling case for children playing in the great outdoors.

A Good Night’s Sleep

Like adults, children need sleep to enable their minds to reboot and focus. Unlike adults, a drowsy child can’t wind down quickly. In fact, in children sleepiness can resemble ADHD symptoms.  They behave as if they’re not exhausted at all, resisting bedtime and becoming increasingly hyper as the evening progresses. This all too familiar drama can happen simply because the child is overtired.  Children who sleep less than ten hours per night before age three are more likely to be easily distracted and are three times more prone to developing hyperactivity and impulsivity issues by age six than those who get just 30 minutes more of extra sleep.  See the chart below to learn how many hours of sleep your child needs.

Baby and Children Sleep Chart

  • 0-4 months. Total Sleep: 16-18 hours.  Nighttime Sleep: 8-9 hours.
  • 5-12 months. Total Sleep: 12-16 hours. Nighttime Sleep: 9-10 hours.
  • 1-2 years. Total Sleep: 11-14 hours. Nighttime Sleep: 11 hours.
  • 3-5 years. Total Sleep: 10-13 hours. Nighttime Sleep: 10-13 hours.
  • 6-12 years. Total Sleep: 9-12 hours.

#babyplus #child development #attentionspan #focus #childbevahior #parenting

The Importance of Praising Your Child

We all like to be told we are on the right path, that we are doing a good job.  We like to know that what we are doing is making a difference. This is true in all aspects of our life: at work, at home and at play. Of course these look different depending on where we are: a paycheck, a high five, a pat on the back, a hug, a kiss, a new outfit, words of affirmation, a sweet treat etc. These things are known as reinforcers which often times looks like rewards, and according to the research will increase the likelihood that a behavior will occur again.

This is great news for parents! This means we can bribe our kids with candy to get them to do want we want… right? Not quite. What it does mean is that we can capitalize on what motivates our children in order for them to complete tasks that they most likely don’t want to do, or are having hard time learning.


According to Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) reinforcement follows a stimulus change and results in the increased likelihood that the behaviour will happen again. Often times, when someone mentions reinforcement, it is typically positive reinforcement that they are referring to.

Types of reinforcement:

  • Positive reinforcement: when a behavior is followed by the PRESENTATION of a stimulus (a reinforcer). For example: A baby claps her hands and the parent smiles and cheers. The presentation of the smile and cheer are the reinforcers. This response will increase the chances that the baby will clap again.
    • A reinforcer can be anything: praise, toys, food, an activity/experience, music, stickers etc
  • Negative reinforcement: when a behaviour is followed by the REMOVAL (or end) of a stimulus which increases the chances that the response will occur more frequently. For example: Picture Johnny and Jamey fighting (behavior) over who gets to play with the ball and they are making a lot of noise (as kids tend to do). Mom comes in the room and takes away the ball (removal/end), both kids stop fighting immediately bringing back the peace and quiet (response). The chances of Mom removing toys when the kids are fighting is now strengthen and likely to occur again.

Advantages of positive reinforcement

  • The behavior that is being reinforced will occur more frequently
  • You become the giver or good things (helps to strengthen relationship with your child)
  • Helps children to understand what is expected of them and accepted
  • Helps to teach new skills

While a lot of this information can be pretty technical, don’t be discouraged. We are constantly providing feedback and reinforcement to those around us, especially our children. Once you find out what motivates your child (what their reinforcers are) you can have a dance party after homework is done, they can eat brownies when the chores are finished and you can enjoy your cuddles and giggles while tickling and snuggling your baby.

#babyplus #children #parenting

What Your Child’s “Bad Behavior” is Telling You

Cue child: kicking and screaming in the grocery store aisle because they were denied the sugary cereal.

Toddler enters room stage left, drops to the floor, crying, arms and legs flailing because you cut their toast after they asked you to. We have all been there or we will all be there at one point or another–that moment when things don’t go the way your child wants and they react in what seems like a disproportionate way to you, but seems completely reasonable to them.

Upon examining these scenes, most people, parents included only see a child who is having a tantrum, or a child who is misbehaving /acting out, or even worse they blame the behavior on poor parenting. What they don’t see is that this child is communicating.

All behavior is communication.

While simple enough, this realization offers a solution based perspective to ‘problem behavior’. It changes the narrative of “my child is bad” or “they are doing this TO me” and offers “they are trying to tell me something”. The behaviors in question can look like talking through a situation and clearly expressing feelings and thoughts which is what most people are used to. With younger children, those who don’t have a complex vocabulary or a lot of words, or children with special needs it can look like: throwing, crying, kicking, running away, biting, laughing, washing hands, not saying anything at all, over eating, refusing to use the washroom, not eating, hitting and the list goes on. These behaviors can be indications of insecurity, anger, pain, joy, curiosity, lack of sleep, fear etc.

Often times the thing your child is having a meltdown over i.e. the cereal, is not really at the root of the meltdown, then what is?

One of the first steps to understanding what is being communicated through these behaviors, is finding out what function or purpose the behavior serves.

Is your child trying to get access to something, a toy, the park? Is this behavior fulfilling a sensory need, it is helping them self sooth? Is your child trying to get attention from a parent or teacher, or perhaps they are trying to escape something, like chores, homework, or an unpleasant situation?

Once you have figured out what your child is trying to communicate through their behaviors, there are numerous ways they can be addressed but are not limited to:

  • Offering them more choices throughout the day. For example, if it is play time, do they want to play with a blue ball or a red ball?
  • Providing simple words or sentences they can use, for example: “I want the ball.”
  • You can model more appropriate or socially acceptable ways to self sooth, like taking deep breaths, or counting to 10.
  • Help them identify how they are feeling using simple words or sentences: “I’m sad, I need a hug.”
  • As an alternative to running away you can teach your child to ask for a break or schedule in down time during their day.

Keep in mind we have only just scratched the surface of functions of behavior and different strategies to address them. Figuring out what your child is trying to communicate through their behaviors isn’t always an easy task. It can take a long time and can be quite frustrating for both parent and child.

There are so many ways to communicate with your child and with a little effort and a lot of patience, you will find the one that works best for the both of you.