The Power of Knowing Your Child’s Needs

How well do you know your child’s developmental needs? A recent study at the University of Rochester discovered that about one-third (31.2%) of parents of 9-month-olds are “clueless” about child development milestones, such as when babies talk, learn right from wrong, or can be potty trained. Some moms and dads have unrealistic expectations for their children’s physical, social or emotional growth, and become frustrated. Others underestimate those abilities and prevent them from learning on their own.

Nearly all of the parents surveyed were moms, and based on our experiences and research, it’s reasonable to assume that a significantly higher percentage of fathers are uninformed about their children’s development—perhaps half to two-thirds.

All dads, in any stage or level of experience, would do well to recognize the importance of being aware of their children’s developmental milestones, as well as their unique interests, needs, dreams and challenges.

The researchers concluded that low-level knowledge of child development predicted two things in the parents: 1) they are less likely to enjoy healthy interactions with their infants during learning tasks, and 2) they are less likely to engage their children in regular enrichment activities. If we are more aware of our children’s developmental needs and abilities, we’ll be more motivated to encourage them in learning activities and more likely to enjoy that time together. Additionally, insight will bring confidence to our fathering. When we are aware of what our children really need, we can be confident that our actions are making a difference—building them up, encouraging them, helping them overcome difficulties, etc.

Whether your child is an infant, finishing kindergarten, entering the teen years or getting married, utilize insights on your child’s development to your advantage—and his. Gain more insight about your child’s stage of development.


  • Talk with your children’s mother about what new developments each of you is noticing in your child—and ways you can get involved to help encourage, protect, etc.
  • Make sure your little one is very familiar with you as well—your face, your touch, your voice, etc.
  • Are you expecting something of your child that she can’t handle? Or expecting too little of her? Get feedback from someone else who knows your child well.
  • Listen carefully for small differences in your baby’s cries. Is he telling you he’s uncomfortable? Hungry? Tired?

Watch the replay of the Fathering Breakthrough Event

Join Dr. Ken Canfield and a handful of friends and partners as we give an update about our efforts to inspire and equip fathers all over the world.

There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.