British dads are the most playful in Europe

8 December 2005

British children reap emotional and physical benefits of hands-on dads

New research out today reveals that British dads devote more time to playing with their children than their European counterparts.

The study, commissioned by Persil as part of its ‘Dirt is Good’ campaign, reveals that fun-loving British dads spend the equivalent of a full day at work (eight hours) playing with their children every week. This is twice as much as French fathers, who devote only four hours to playtime, and more than Dutch and Swiss fathers who spend five and six hours respectively.

Jan Van Gils, outgoing President of the International Play Association, explains: “Play is one of the best ways for children to learn and develop and Dads tend to be more active and boisterous in the way they play, so they’re
great at indulging kids in exhilarating and mucky outdoor games which are essential for a child’s development. By devoting more time to play, British dads are helping their children learn how to express their feelings and develop their personality and skills.”

According to the research, playing with their offspring is British dad’s favourite past time. In-fact, almost half (46%) of the dads surveyed would rather play with their kids than do their hobby (19%), watch sport on TV (18%), go to the pub with their mates (10%) or watch a film at the cinema (5%).

Furthermore, seven out of ten British dads said they wish they could devote even more time to playing with their children.

Football, unsurprisingly, tops the list of dad’s favourite games to play with their kids with 23% of dads loving nothing more than a kick about. However, the research also shows British dads have a creative streak and enjoy getting back to nature by building sandcastles, pond dipping, climbing trees and bug collecting with their little ones.

When British kids were asked about their favourite game to play with their dads, 34% named ball games like football, cricket and rugby as their favourite, followed by bike riding (17%) and painting (13%). They also claim dad is best at building dens and sandcastles, rock pooling, digging in the garden and making mud pies.

Leading child psychologist, Emma Citron explains: “Celebrity dads like David Beckham, Jonathan Ross, Bob Geldof and Jamie Oliver are leading the way when it comes to giving over time to playing with their kids. They clearly relish their hands-on role in their children’s upbringing and they are inspiring dads across the country to follow suit.“