Hands on Dads linked with good behaviour

New research, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, has suggested that children with fathers who are hands on from an early age are less likely to have behavioural problems than children with fathers who are ‘remote’.

Hands on dads linked with good behaviour

by Louise-Anne Geddes, Mindful Mum, 19th July 2012

According to the researchers, there has been relatively little research conducted in this area, despite ‘this appearing to be particularly pertinent to child behavioural development’.  Their study, led by Paul Ramchandani from the University of Oxford, found that interaction with the father tended to be more important for boys than girls.

Research methods

The study aimed to further explore whether or not ‘father and infant interactions at age three months independently predicted child behavioural problems at one year of age’. One hundred and ninety two sample families were recruited from two maternity units in the UK.  Their interactions were then measured in the family home, and behavioural problems were reported by the mother.  The researchers claim that ‘hierarchical and logistic regression analyses were used to examine associations between father and infant interaction and the development of behavioural problems’.


The study found that ‘disengaged and remote’ interactions between fathers and children were more likely to predict ‘externalising’ behavioural problems in children, whereas children with a closer paternal relationship were less likely to develop these problems.


The researchers said that ‘disengaged interactions of fathers with their infants, as early as the third month of life, predict early behavioural problems in children. These interactions may be critical factors to address, from a very early age in the child’s life, and offer a potential opportunity for preventive intervention’.

Source:  The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,  Do early father–infant interactions predict the onset of externalising behaviours in young children? Findings from a longitudinal cohort study, 19th July 2012

Photography: Alan Bruce @Flickr

+Louise-Anne Geddes

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