dads and moms have different play styles

Is There a “Right” Way to Play with Kids? Ah, Nope.

Dear Mr. Dad. My husband and I have two-year-old twins—a girl and a boy—and we both love spending time with them. But I’ve noticed that he and I have very different styles, in several ways. We do different activities with the kids. And I’ve also noticed that I do a better job of treating the kids the same, while he treats our son very differently than our daughter. What’s the best way to play with a toddler? And isn’t it better to play with the two kids in exactly the same way?

A: The short answers to your questions are (a) there’s no such thing as a “best” way or a “right” way to play with children, and (b) it’s impossible to treat two children in identical ways—whether they’re the same sex or not. To start with, moms and dads typically have very different play styles, with dads leaning toward louder, physical activities, moms toward quieter, less-physical ones. Neither approach is better than the other. For the first few years of life, kids learn almost everything about the world through play. And they’re learning different—but equally valuable—lessons from each of you. So the “best” approach is for your kids to have both.

Moms and dads differ in other ways as well. For example, dads generally encourage independence, allowing their children to take more risks and learn from the consequences. Moms tend to be more cautious and protective and encourage their children to take fewer risks, perhaps in an effort to spare them the pain that comes with failure. (Of course, not all moms and dads fall into these patterns, but most do.) Again, the best approach is both.

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Armin Brott

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Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.

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