Welcome to video #2 in this 7 video series called The Fatherhood Formula where we teach you the 7 Principles of Dad Success. In the last video we covered the first principle of the Fatherhood Formula: Commitment.
I’m going to assume you are committed to being the best dad you can be and that’s why you are here. Kudos to you for making that commitment. Now you are ready for the 2nd principle: Contact. Contact includes touching, holding, hugs, and kisses. It’s providing affection to your child.
Unfortunately, many men were raised by fathers who did not provide them affection. It may have been awkard, socially unacceptable but keep in mind, back in the day, people didn’t think smoking cigarettes was bad for you either. Times change.
There really is no debate….contact is crucial for a child’s well being whether it’s a boy or girl. But traditionally we men have left the affection up to the moms. We can’t leave it up to only them. We have to step up and provide our kids the affection they need and deserve.
I’m convinced that a lot of the problems from the playground to the boardroom to our communities, would be reduced if some of the people who are causing the problems were provided more affection as a child. Numerous studies have shown that children who do not have affectionate parents tend to:
- Have lower self-esteem
- Feel more alienated
- Are more hostile and aggressive
- And are more anti-social
Even more sobering is that researches have shown that a lack of physical affection can actually kill babies. If they are not held or hugged for an extended period of time, they can die. Infant mortality rates in some orphanages can be 30-40% and it’s because they are not provided enough touch.
Children require love and affection. Touch literally changes the neural pathways in the brain. The hormone Oxytocin is released in the brain when a person feels love and connection and that is done through contact. Here are some other positive effects of contact:
- Children are shown to have higher self-esteem
- Improved academic performance
- Better parent-child communication
- Fewer psychological and behavior problems
That’s seem like a pretty good argument for us dads providing more contact. Think about this: If you have a daughter, an affectionate dad makes them more likely to choose men who are more kind, loving, and gentle. If you have a son, they model the behavior of their dads and are more likely to be loving and kind towards others.
So great, you understand that contact and affection are important, but now what do you do? You have to put it into action. Here are some ways to offer more contact separated by age of the child. If you have a baby, you could:
- Hold them in your arms more
- Provide more skin-to-skin-contact
- Give them a massage
- Use a harness or baby holder and just wear them around more often
- You can tickle them
- You can give them lots of hugs and kisses
As they get older, maybe more toddler age and early childhood:
- Hold hands
- They can sit on your lap
- Put your arm around them when walking or sitting
- Giving them a lot of hugs and kisses
- Lie in bed with them for a few minutes as they are going to sleep
If you have teens or older kids they may take a little more warming up if you haven’t done much of this before but:
- You can definitely hug them
- Kiss them if they will still let you
- Hand on their shoulder when you speak with them
- Sit close to them
- Sit or lie in bed
I have noticed when I make more effort to affectionate with my kids, they in turn more affectionate to me. Just FYI as a bonus: similar actions can work with the wife too.
I am going to give some homework and I really want you to do this. Next time you see your child after being away for a little bit….this could be when you come home from work, if you travel, or just in the morning when you first see them. Give them a 10 second hug and big kiss. Literally count to 10 silently in your mind. It’s a long time. They will probably try to squirm out of it before it ends.
Then for at least 24 hours, make it 48 if you can, be extra affectionate with your kids. More than you usually are. Be loving, give them more hugs.
Then let us know how it felt for you and if you noticed any reactions or differences in them. Leave your feedback in the comments section below.