Fathers playing roughhousing with his young children important for the development of the child, say Australian researchers.
Australian researchers watched film of 30 dads while they roughhoused with their children, usually through a game where the child would try to remove a sock from their father's foot, to see what effect it might have on children.
"Rough and tumble play between fathers and their young children is part of their development, shaping their children's brain so that their children develop the ability to manage emotions and thinking and physical action altogether," the ABC News quoted Richard Fletcher, the leader of the Fathers and Families Research Program at the University of Newcastle in Australia, as saying.
"This is a key developmental stage for children in that preschool area between the ages of about two and a half and five. That's when children learn to put all those things together," added Fletcher.
Although boys were more likely to encourage the start of roughhousing with their dads, researchers did not see a significant difference between boys and girls once the play started. But for the kids, it's not just play.
"When you look at fathers and their young children playing, you can see that for the child, it's not just a game. They obviously enjoy it and they're giggling, we know that's true, but when you watch the video, you can see that child is concentrating really hard ... I think the excitement is related to the achievement that's involved," said Fletcher.
"It's not about a spoiled child not wanting to lose, I think that child is really striving for the achievement of succeeding," added Fletcher.
The researchers believe that the most important aspect of this play is that it gives children a sense of achievement when they 'defeat' a more powerful adult, building their self-confidence and concentration. However, fathers who resist their children, can also teach them the life lesson that, in life, you don't always win. The act of a stronger adult holding back that strength also helps to build trust between father and child.
These kinds of lessons can be crucial in child developmental stages as they begin to build their outlook on the world. "We think it has implications for children's resilience. So, if parents want their children to grow up and not get into drugs and not get into trouble, if they want them to do well academically, than this is probably a good thing to do," said Fletcher.
"We did find a correlation so that the dad's whose play was much better coordinated according to our measures, those children had less problems," added Fletcher.
The study was released by the Pew Research Center.