Dr. Ruth Feldman, Ph.D., a social neuroscientist based in Israel, published a study of 112 mothers and fathers in 2010 which found that peaks in oxytocin (and by association, dopamine) occurred for women when they nurtured their children. In contrast, the peak for men occurred when they took part in rough-and-tumble play. Because young children’s brains seem to mimic the same oxytocin levels as their parents’ — meaning they’ll get a similar blast of feel-good oxytocin when playing with Dad and when being nurtured by Mom — they’ll be more likely to engage in that behavior over and over again specifically with that parent, which is critical to their development. Rough-and-tumble play not only cements bonds between father and child, but also plays crucial roles in a child’s social development.

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