A preschooler asked her mother, “Can you buy daddy glasses for his birthday?” The mother asked why he thought his daddy needed glasses. He said, “Every time I ask Daddy to play a game with me, he says, ‘We’ll see.’ I know I can see the games just fine, but Daddy must not see them because we never play them!”
Sometimes fathers get busy and do not take the time to really go into a child’s world. A child is wired for fun and play. Adults used to have that wiring but somehow life can short-circuit fun and games and replace it with work and more work. However, we really need to work hard to play.
Dad’s often play differently than moms, and that is okay. Dad’s can have a hard time playing “house” with a little girl. “House” has no rules. There is no winner. There is no way to even know when the play will end. Board games can also be hard as dads don’t like to let others win but also do not like to deal with a crying child who lost to a competitive father. Dads can feel ill-equipped to deal with a young child that is always a few steps away from a temper tantrum.
There is great news for fathers that has recently been grounded in research. One thing that most fathers are good at is chasing their children around and getting them all excited. Mothers are quick to say, “Settle down. Someone’s going to get hurt!”, but research is telling us dads are onto something important. Click here to see how Dad’s roughhousing helps early development. The study tied to this link suggests that rough and tumble play helps a young child’s brain develop the ability to manage emotions. When I was young, my father would come home from work, and I would request P.T. No, I did not need physical therapy. I needed something more important – Play Time! My dad would swing me by my arms in circles, and he would let me crawl up his tall body so that I could flip over and land on my feet. He would throw me up in the air and catch me. I loved P.T.. I played board games with my mother, but I had P.T. with my father.
My dad never took an early childhood class. He was not an educator. He did not read child development books. He also did not wear glasses. He worked hard each day, but somehow knew that play was important. Children need moms and dads that can play. I think if they had more P.T. they just may need less Mental Therapy as they get older.
- What do you remember playing with your father?
- What was the last thing you remember playing with a child?
- What are the games that a child would like to play with you?
- What can you do when you feel there really is no time in the day to play?
- When in your day do you need to wear glasses to have a clearer perspective?
“You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato