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Parents’ Views of Father–Child Rough-and-Tumble Play

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jane Goodwin



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Parent-child play directly influences child development. One aspect of parent-child play that is gaining interest is a form of physical play, ‘rough-and-tumble play’ (RTP), or roughhousing. RTP is most often played by fathers and has been shown to have positive benefits for children. However, little is known about parents’ perceptions of this type of play, although beliefs and values about learning through play shape parents’ interactions with their children. In this study, we investigated parents’ beliefs and knowledge about father–child RTP. A qualitative design was used to create a conceptual description of parents’ views, and 52 (31% male) Australian parents participated in semi-structured interviews supported by a video stimulus of father–child RTP. Three conceptual themes characterized parents’ perspectives on RTP: Strength Challenge describes the physicality and inter-personal challenge of the game; Dynamic Bonding describes how parents view RTP as fostering close father-child relationships, confidence and a playful state of mind; the final theme, Context and Caveats, integrates the contended and contingent aspects of RTP perceived to influence the short and long-term effects of this play. The study provides insight into how parents perceive the broad function of parent-child RTP and fathers’ role within this play.

Publication metadata

Author(s): StGeorge JM, Goodwin JCA, Fletcher RJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Child and Family Studies

Year: 2018

Volume: 27

Issue: 5

Pages: 1502-1512

Print publication date: 01/05/2018

Online publication date: 01/01/2018

Acceptance date: 14/12/2017

Date deposited: 06/03/2018

ISSN (print): 1062-1024

ISSN (electronic): 1573-2843

Publisher: Springer New York LLC


DOI: 10.1007/s10826-017-0993-0


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