Father-child reading leads to improvements in learning and behavior

Researchers randomly assigned 126 families to either participate in a reading-based parenting program with eight weekly sessions or join a control group of people on a waiting list for the program.

Fathers in the parenting program watched videos showing dads reading with children and making exaggerated errors. The men discussed better approaches and were encouraged to practice these strategies when reading at home with their own sons and daughters.

Among other things, the program tried to improve such parenting skills as establishing consistent routines and spending time with children doing things chosen by the young people. The program also encouraged dads to use praise and rewards to promote good behavior and to use distraction or reduced attention to discourage negative behavior.

Children with fathers in the program had significantly bigger improvements in behavior and language development during the study period than the other children, researchers report in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.