17 June 2017

Nigeria: Father's Day - Unicef Asks Fathers to Spend Quality Time With Children

Photo: UNICEF
A physiotherapist from Lira, Uganda, plays with his 22-month-old son outside their residence at a hospital compound in Napak, Karamoja, eastern Uganda.

Ahead of the 2017 Father's Day, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has stressed the need for fathers to spend more time with their children, citing critical role fathers play in early childhood learning.

Father's Day which is on Sunday, June 18, is celebrated by Americans every third Sunday in June.

No fewer than 80 countries around the world are set to celebrate Father's Day on Sunday.

Mr Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director of Data, Research and Policy, in a statement on a new study released by the UN agency, said: "we must break down the barriers that prevent fathers from providing their babies and young children a conducive environment to thrive, including love, play, protection and nutritious food."

According to the study, a majority of children aged between three- and four-years-old in 74 countries, or about 40 million, have fathers who do not play or engage in early learning activities with them.

"What these numbers show us is that father's are struggling to play an active role in their children's early years.

The UNICEF analysis examined whether children aged three and four engaged in any play and early learning activities with their fathers, such as having their fathers read to the children or tell them stories or sing with them.

Other analysis included having their fathers taking them outside and playing with them as well as naming, counting or drawing with them.

UNICEF urged governments and the private sector to increase spending and influence policies to support early childhood development programmes that focus on providing parents with the resources and information they needed to provide nurturing care to their children.

"We must ensure that all parents have the time, resources and knowledge they need to fully support their children's early development," Chandy said.

According to him, advances in neuroscience have proven that when children spend their earliest years in a nurturing, stimulating environment, new neural connections can form at a once-in-a-lifetime speed of 1,000 per second.

"These connections help determine their health, ability to learn and deal with stress, and even influence their earning capacity as adults," he said.

Research also suggests that exposure to violence and a lack of stimulation and care can prevent neural connections from occurring, according to the report.

It added that when children positively interacted with their fathers, they had better psychological health, self-esteem and life-satisfaction in the long-term.

This month, UNICEF is inviting families to post photos and videos of what it takes to be 'super dads,' using the hashtag #EarlyMomentsMatter on their Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Photos and videos of UNICEF ambassadors and supporters who have got behind the campaign are being posted on UNICEF's Instagram and Twitter.

They also featured on the campaign's gallery, to inspire families across the world to share their 'super dads' moments.

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