Children learn about the world through play. They develop consciousness of cultural norms and socialization guidelines, and experiment with different ways to interact with their environment – those are mainly from interactions within a group of children, or between mom and child.
However, if the father is involved in the play, it becomes more physically active and competitive, which performs an equally important role in a child’s development.
The rough-and-tumble play
The rough-and-tumble play (RTP) is full of excitement and challenge. There are some common fun RTP activities for kinds.
1. Airplane. For bigger kids – let the kids fly up high, their tummies resting on your feet and their hands held in your hands tightly. For little ones – rest them on your shins and just bounce gently.
2. Sumo wrestlers. Stuff a couple of pillows up your shirts, take a running start, and bump tummies.
3. Steam roller. Let kids lay down on a bed side by side. Dad starts at one end and rolls across the kids.
4. Water skier. If you’re standing in the pool, bend your knees just a bit so your child can stand on the tops of your thighs. Hold his hands and run backward through the water so your child can ski. At home, sit in a chair with your child standing on your lap, holding his hands so he’s positioned like a water skier. Rock forward and backward for a little balance challenge.
Of course dads are not the only adult participants. Moms can also engage in such play with their kids, and the outcome for child development is likely to be just the same.
Improves social skills
In a study focusing on the quality of father-child RTP and children’s emotional and behavioral problems, researchers found that high-quality RTP was defined as being warm and sensitive, dominance-sharing and playful in nature.
High-quality RTP can improve children’s prosocial behaviors, which include consideration for others’ feelings and sharing well with others.
Improves emotion regulation
Researchers also found that active, physical and competitive play is linked to better emotion regulation. That’s because RTP activities with dads tend to push the kids to their limit, set goals that are just a bit beyond their reach, and get them worked up.
Reduces injury risk
In a study looking into the relationship between father-child RTP and childhood injury rates in 46 families, researchers revealed how these two factors related: the more dads engaged in RTP with their kids, the fewer injuries those kids sustained.
The reason is, according to the researchers, that RTP can teach kids about their limits – how far they can physically push themselves.
Don’t always dominant as a parent
It’s important for the parents engaged in RTP to be aware of the balance between winning and losing. With the frustration that comes with the losing, kids can learn to regulate their emotions and have a better development.
RTP teaches children how to regulate their emotions, how to safely push and extend their limits, how to assess risky situations, and how to get along well with others. What’s more, physical activity has multiple health benefits. RTP is the sort of thing we should be encouraging parents to do regularly.