The concept and measurement of fathers’ stimulating play: a review

Reviews of attachment research point to fathers’ capacity to provide for a secure child-parent attachment relationship; a suggested mechanism for the development of this relationship may be sensitive and challenging play interactions. This review synthesises research on fathers’ challenging and stimulating play by mapping the variation in construct definitions and reporting on the association of fathers’ stimulating play with child outcomes. Using search terms such as ‘father’, ‘stimulating’ and ‘challenging’, 26 studies were identified, including 16 longitudinal studies, which assessed the association between father-child stimulating or challenging play, and child outcomes. Five categories of stimulating play were derived from the analysis,ranging on a continuum of activation and complexity. Most studies reported positive associations with children’s cognitive, psycho social and physical development. The discussion highlights the variation in the operationalisation of challenging and stimulating play, and suggestions for future research on the function of fathers’ play interactions are made. © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Reviews of attachment research point to fathers’ capacity to provide for a secure child-parent attachment relationship; a suggested mechanism for the development of this relationship may be sensitive and challenging play interactions. This review synthesises research on fathers’ challenging and stimulating play by mapping the variation in construct definitions and reporting on the association of fathers’ stimulating play with child outcomes. Using search terms such as ‘father’, ‘stimulating’ and ‘challenging’, 26 studies were identified, including 16 longitudinal studies, which assessed the association between father-child stimulating or challenging play, and child outcomes. Five categories of stimulating play were derived from the analysis,ranging on a continuum of activation and complexity. Most studies reported positive associations with children’s cognitive, psycho social and physical development. The discussion highlights the variation in the operationalisation of challenging and stimulating play, and suggestions for future research on the function of fathers’ play interactions are made. © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Search