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How Fathers Can Learn To Play With Their Kids

Kids need fathers who play. Playing is good for their souls. Playing bonds dads with their kids. My theory is that the lack of active play during Covid was a contributor to the anxiety that a lot of kids feel. Sadly, too many fathers have never been taught some of the simple fundamentals o…
By sethbarnes

Kids need fathers who play. Playing is good for their souls. Playing bonds dads with their kids. My theory is that the lack of active play during Covid was a contributor to the anxiety that a lot of kids feel.

Sadly, too many fathers have never been taught some of the simple fundamentals of rough-housing with their kids. This was one of the highlights of my life when my kids were young. And now that they have kids of their own, I’ve got a new generation to throw around.

The photo above is of me and the kiddos in a pool 32 years ago. If you’ve got a pool, or a playground nearby, that’s the best. Ours loved to be thrown off my shoulders into the deep end.

But you really don’t need anything to delight your children. Here are some basic things that dads (and moms) can try out anywhere around the house where there’s a little space.

Shoulder Ride

Here I’m hoisting Marston onto my shoulders. From there you can race around chasing the other kids.

Ride Away to Boston

You can start your babies out with this one. You say some kind of nursery rhyme like “Ride away to Boston…” (check out this list of “bouncy rhymes”). Here, Remy and Shoshi are doubling up. They are getting a little old for this one, but still love it.

Horsey

This is perhaps the most basic of the rug games we play. You can actually fit up to three on the horsey if your back is strong. I like to spice it up with special effects and features. For example, on one ride, the horsey will only go if the rider sings a song. And on another, the horsey jiggles the entire time. Kids love it when you throw in creative variations. Or, flip over on your back and play “airplane” by balancing them on your feet.

Helicopter

I like the more advanced games like “Helicopter.” A good helicopter ride brings the kind of smile and laughter to your kid’s face that Remy has here. Our best games were often ones that we invented out in the park. For example, in pushing them on the swing, I gave them 10 levels of pushing to choose from with 10 being “rocket speed” – a push requiring you to gradually push higher and higher until they are in danger of falling out.

Dads – it’s time to get out from behind your phone screens. Your kids need you! They need your rough-housing and laughter. Grandads – if dad isn’t up to it, then you’ve got to take up the slack. They will pay you back in hugs and smiles.

What games did your parents play with you that you still remember? Please share any favorites you’ve got.

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