7 Ways Playful Dads Bring More Joy Into Family Lives
Fathers today are more present in their children’s lives, according to a survey. In fact, 63%-76% of the male respondents wished for more home-based and flexible working hours so that they could continue spending more time with their kids. And this setup may be worth exploring because studies have shown that having fun with dad is good for the child’s development and the family’s relationship.
We at Bright Side love seeing fathers having a grand time with their little ones, and we’re sharing points from the experts that explain why those shoulder rides and goofing around are more significant than we think.
1. Playful dads create a special connection with their kids.
Humans depend on play for forming social connections. And studies have indicated that good “father play” can lead to better concentration and social skills. The children become more polite, more sensitive, and they behave well with others.
Kids also tend to be more well-adapted when they have fathers who advise them on how to solve problems or correct mistakes — lessons that can also come up during playtime.
2. Their rough-and-tumble play can help children deal with difficult emotions.
It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt — but according to a play expert, this may not be a bad thing. Rough, boisterous, and competitive games with dad provide a safe environment for the tots to learn if they crossed a line.
Frisky play teaches them how to respond when they get hurt or accidentally cause harm to someone else. Getting the youngsters all worked up also forces them to control their strength and practice calming down.
3. Fun activities may contribute to children’s intellectual development.
As some great minds put it, “Play is the work of children,” and it’s where they learn about life skills. It is also most effective when it is enjoyable for them, so parents should avoid making them feel like games are compulsory activities.
One article summarized 2 studies that explained how early father-child interaction influences a child’s cognitive development. Researchers learned that infants who had more play sessions with their fathers scored higher in the Mental Development Index (MDI) when they reached 2 years old. The MDI is used to measure cognitive and language development. Meanwhile, a kid’s vocabulary and emotion regulation were strengthened when their pops engaged in pretend play with them.
4. Fun-loving dads tend to have a better relationship with their spouse.
In one experiment, researchers found that fathers who horsed around with their kids shared a warmer and more supportive bond with their partners. These spouses had fewer conflicts and rarely undermined each other.
Interestingly, the group also learned that when dads took on more traditional caregiving duties, such as diaper changing or feeding, the relationship between the husband and the wife was not as good. However, a professor of child development noted that there is no single formula for parenting, and partners should discuss how they can both be positively involved in the family.
5. They make daily chores or activities way more exciting for the kiddos.
A parenting expert wrote that playfulness can be incorporated even in household activities. One way to do it is to feign incompetence — for example, dads can pretend that they don’t know how to use a toothbrush. Correcting daddy’s mistake can make the child feel powerful, plus they’ll have fun while they’re at it.
Fathers can also make going potty more exciting by having the kid imagine it as a rocket ship or a hill they have to climb. Distracting the tot with laughter while dressing him or her up may also help parents avoid a tantrum while cultivating a strong connection at the same time.
6. These dads get to nurture their creativity and playfulness too.
Having tea parties, slaying made-up dragons, or volunteering as the canvas for kids’ art allows dads to view the world from their children’s lens. This gives the men a chance to let their guards down for a bit and to immerse themselves in their rugrat’s imagination.
For fathers who are worried that they are not naturally funny or playful, an expert suggests meeting their little ones halfway by looking at what their kids are doing, then just joining in. Everyone can be creative, even in simple ways. Say it’s time for dinner and the kid is still playing — instead of just calling them over, dads can roll out an imaginary carpet that will lead them to the table.
7. They encourage positive behavior.
The lack of a happy childhood may lead to dysfunctional adulthood. Experts noted that some adults with serious mental problems reportedly kept to themselves when they were kids or engaged in abnormal play habits. But when dads create a healthy attachment with their offspring, this special connection can extend to their kids’ future relationships.
Playful parenting is also a better approach for sensitive children who may easily feel embarrassed or who have a tough time dealing with corrections. For example, if a kid is being too rough with his hands, a playful plea, like “Dear hands, be gentle please,” may work better than calling him or her out directly.
Do you often play games or organize fun activities with your kids? What other rewards of playtime can you share with us?