Skills Every Dad Should Teach His Toddler

kids playing cards
Photo via Psychology Today

From the frivolous to the essential, these life lessons are best taught by dad.

Sure mom could teach them as well, but a father’s touch really brings out the fun and the manly expertise for these fun activities!
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How-To Skills a Toddler Can Learn Best from Dad

Toddler throwing bread to ducks
Photo Breanne Strafford|CC

1. Throw a Ball. Start simple, like throwing some bread to ducks. Coordination takes many, many years to develop, but a patient dad makes throwing fun.

Toddler having fun wrestling father
Photo Dan Pearce|CC

2. Roughhouse Safely. Wrestling with dad is a vital aspect of play.  Dads help children learn how to set boundaries, to respect others, and teach when to stop.

Dad and son sitting on bed talking
Photo beta_rokkor|CC

3. Say “I’m Sorry”. Everyone makes mistakes, even dads.

By modeling how to take responsibility for your actions and acknowledging how mistakes can impact others, dads are vital role models for teaching social skills to their toddlers.Symbols children can recognize

4. Recognize Symbols. Whether sports teams, or car emblems, or brand logos, symbology is a critical foundation for early literacy and reading skills.

By helping toddlers recognize symbols, dads are setting the groundwork for future letter and word recognition.  Point out those Fords, and cheer for those Bears!

Kid playing slapjack cards
Photo AndrewEick|CC

5.  Play Cards. Toddlers playing poker? Well, not yet, but cardscan be a fun way for dads to introduce early math skills and pattern recognition.

Sort the cards by color. Talk about high and low cards.

Simple games can help teach fairness and how to lose (or win) gracefully. Even “52 Card Pick-up” is an important learning opportunity for toddlers!

Toddler frustrated riding tricycle with patient father
Photo brungrrl|CC

6. Ride a Bike. A right of passage for any father, teaching little ones to balance and coordinate left-right pedal-pushing are fundamental learning skills. Don’t expect immediate results….the patient dad knows it takes time and practice!Dad and son talking on beach

7. Listen. Toddlers want to be heard, just like anyone else. Even when they are driving you crazy, take time to really listen to what your child is saying.

Half of all communication is about learning good listening skills, which supports their reading comprehension and social-emotional development.

Dad making PBJ with son
Photo Chapendra|CC

8. Cook. Make a sandwich or stick apples in peanut butter.  Whether a simple cheese, or old-fashioned PB&J, even the youngest little chef can learn a thing from dad.

Those little fingers are learning the importance of how to be self-sufficient and responsible (let them wipe the counters to clean-up!)

Dad joking with son
Photo Charlie Brewer|CC

9. Tell a (Good) Joke. Making others laugh and feel comfortable are vital social skills.  Toddlers can develop confidence when speaking to others (encourage them to make eye contact).

Start with simple, silly jokes, like “Where do polar bears keep their money?” In a Snow Bank!

Dad using tools with daughters
Photo kellyv|CC

10. Use Tools. Dads know that even little hands can learn to use screwdrivers and hammers safely.

It does take a lot of patience and supervision, but the fine-motor and visual-spatial skills kids learn through using tools are priceless dad moments!Skills Every Dad Should Teach His Toddler - Famlii
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