Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1502–1512 | Cite as

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

  • Jennifer M. StGeorge
  • Jane C. Goodwin
  • Richard J. Fletcher
Original Paper


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.


Rough-and-tumble play Father-child play Parents’ beliefs Fathers 


Author Contributions

J.StG. collaborated in the design of the study, lead the data analyses, and wrote the paper. J.G. analyzed the data and wrote part of the results. R.F. collaborated in the design and analysis of the study.


There was no funding associated with this project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Approval No- H-2012-0327, University of Newcastle, Australia.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Family Action CentreUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Health & SocietyNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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