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Blackmon: Physical Play with Dad Helps Kids Develop Self-Control, Says Study


A University of Cambridge study found that children who played with their fathers from an early age were more skilled at regulating their emotions and behaviors later in life.

The University of Cambridge and the LEGO Foundation teamed up together for this study and analyzed close to 40 years of data.

The goal of the research was to determine if there were significant differences between the ways that mothers and fathers play with their children. The results and findings were most likely a surprise to everyone involved.

The findings of the study suggest that fathers engage in more physical activities with their children than mothers.

Consequently, that type of physical interaction could lead to a child’s ability to better regulate their own mood, emotions, and behaviors. These are essential skills for children when they begin to socialize with other children.

Now, what’s the connection between physical games and self-regulation. The researchers involved in the study believe that the correlation deals with learning to hold back your strength, knowing when not to hurt someone, and gauging when someone has reached their limit.

Paul Ramchandani, Professor of Play in Education, Development and Learning at the University of Cambridge, said, “It’s a safe environment in which children can practice how to respond. If they react the wrong way, they might get told off, but it’s not the end of the world — and next time they might remember to behave differently.”

Playtime Ideas from an Expert

For more insight into playtime activities for fathers and their children, Guy Counseling reached out to Sherrie MacLean, who runs an award-winning early learning center in Canada called Tiny Hoppers.

So many fathers struggle with playtime ideas, especially with toddlers and infants. So, we picked Sherrie’s brain for the best ways to connect with our wee ones.

Sherrie MacLean suggested that fathers should “most importantly, play with your child. Get down on their level and play with whatever toy or item they find exciting. It might be a car to drive over their tummy and across your legs, or perhaps it will be a towel that becomes a peekaboo game (children will do this for hours). It is important to get down on their level and play their games. Focus on your child and listen to them.”

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