Throwback: Measuring the Play-Off Payoff

Although the World Cup is in full swing, it’s games like “Get Up” and “Sock Wrestle” that are deciding the world’s fate. The Wall Street Journal’s recent article “Roughhousing Lessons From Dad” explores how the very nature of play makes it tricky to nail down exactly how dads teach kids self-control and social skills.

There’s no question that children benefit from fathers who spend time with them. Studies often pair healthy play with strong social skills. But finding a way to analyzing roughhousing is a scientific challenge. Traditional attachment tests used to analyze bonds between mothers and their infants don’t work correctly when applied to dads. Researchers instead are finding more ways to measure play.Playoff Payoff

“One researcher watched fathers and children playing games like “Get Up,” in which fathers try to get up from the floor while the children try to hold them down, and “Sock Wrestle,” in which father and child try to snatch each other’s socks,” writes Sue Shellenbarger of the new scales scientists are using. The article further describes how fathers can roughhouse in a way that helps kids set limits and take healthy risks.

In the Fall 2013 issue of Marriott Alumni Magazine, Marriott School of Management professor Ramon Zabriskie did his own research to find that “families function better when fathers are involved in family leisure.” As explained in “The Play-Off Payoff,” family leisure can take many forms—including some good backyard roughhousing.