Has your toddler been throwing tantrums of late? Well, that could be an indication that they are not getting enough playtime with their dad. How you interact with your child heavily influences their physical and mental development, and the earlier you start, the better. According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge in conjunction with the LEGO Foundation, father-child playtime could very well enhance a child’s ability to regulate personal emotions and behavior in adult life.
During this study, 78 studies were examined, focusing on how fathers play with their children and how often. The study was limited to children who were three years and below.
So why is it a big deal that dads should enjoy playing with their children? First and foremost, fathers playing is more physical as compared to mother-child play. Fathers will raise their young infants and for toddlers, they engage in rough and tumble play, for instance, chasing. The other finding is that fathers play more with their younger children, but once they start getting older, age six and above, father-child play decreases. Father-child play improves a child’s emotional and behavioral health. The more they play, the fewer the emotional, “ drama” issues, and the lesser the hyperactivity. A child who often plays with their father is able to control their aggression better, so as a parent, you will be happy to know that playing more with your toddler means fewer cases at school.
How does play affect behavior and emotions? According to Paul Ramchandani, the lead researcher, physical play creates an atmosphere of fun and excitement where the child has to self regulate. They have to control their strength, establish boundaries. This is where your child gets to know what to do when you accidentally step on their toe.
Playtime with fathers provides a safe environment for the child to practice how to respond. It is here that they are told off if they react wrongly. The behavior is checked, and next time, they will respond differently.
So is it only father-child playtime that is effective? No, the researchers stated that physical play is not an exclusive dad activity. Mothers can indulge in physical play, too, either in a supportive role or actively.
In addition to these findings that have since been published in the Developmental Review-Journal, different parents vary when it comes to playing with children, but parents should not just stick to a routine. It is good that they step out of their comfort zone and do what’s best for the child because children are the greatest beneficiaries when exposed to different play and interaction methods.