The impact of father-child rough-and-tumble play and child cognitive outcomes
Over the last few decades, the social movement of involved fatherhood has stimulated a research focus on fathers, leading to an increase in the body of evidence into the paternal contributions to child development. Past research has suggested that rough-and-tumble play (RTP), which involves wrestling, chasing and tumbling, is the preferred play type of western fathers. While this play has been perceived as being dangerous or too aggressive, the limited research available has shown a relationship between high quality rough-and-tumble play interactions, and both lower childhood aggression and improved child emotional regulation. However, a cognitive approach has not been explored. Thus, the aim of this study was to examine father-child RTP interactions with children aged 4-7 years and explore the impacts on child development and cognition. Analyses revealed that father-child RTP play quality was positively related to working memory outcomes in children. Furthermore, the amount of rough-and-tumble play father and child did together on a regular basis was also related to working memory outcomes. While father-child play interactions remain an understudied area of research, this study outlines the importance of examining the paternal play role in children’s cognitive development.