Do you roughhouse with your kids? Why you should!

A recent article on Shine looked at the benefits of roughhousing. Here’s what it said:

” ‘Play looks a lot different than it did 30 years ago,’ says Dr. Anthony DeBenedet, who co-wrote “The Art of Roughhousing: Good, Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It” with Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD. ‘I think it’s time for us to kind of cut the strings a little bit. Let kids go—and play with them….’ ”

“Roughhousing does more than keep kids physically active. “There are clear signs showing that it helps kids’ academic success, it’s associated with being more flexible behaviorally, being better able to deal with unpredictability,” DeBenedet says. “Play—especially active physical play, like roughhousing—makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful,” they write in their book.”

“So what is roughhousing, exactly? ‘You kind of know it when you see it,’ explains DeBenedet, the father of 5, 2, and 6-month-old girls. (Yes, girls can roughhouse, too.) There are two main types, he says: Improvisational free-form roughhousing, which can include everything from wrestling to jumping on the couch to pillow fights, and set moves that are ‘almost like physical challenges with your kid.’ “

The article goes on to describe roughhousing workshops that parents can take with their kids. (There is video of the workshops on the link. I would embed it but I’m having video problems lately!!) Really? Do we need workshops to teach us how to wrestle with our kids?

My husband was the one that saw the story and sent me the link. He loves to roughhouse with our kids and the kids love to roughhouse with each other. Michael used to wrestle with the two big kids and now Lilina is totally in on the game. She attacks screaming “Wrestle!” and then just when Michael gets her in a good spot she yells “I quit. I quit. I quit.” And then as soon as he lets go, she jumps back on top of him yelling “Wrestle!” again!

Michael sent this comment attached to the link: I love the fact that they say roughhousing is good for kids. I hate the fact that they teach a roughhousing workshop.

So what do you think: Do you roughhouse with your kids? Do your kids roughhouse with each other? What about with friends? Is that allowable these days? What do you think of the roughhousing workshops?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, ajc.com Momania. Follow me on Twitter and read what I am reading each day. Great stories on family health, family fun, parenting,  fashion, stars, and more. Click on the right-hand column to check out links to stories that will interest you. )

50 comments Add your comment

djm_NC

June 8th, 2011
5:51 am

i think its sad that there as to be lessons on how to play with your kids. wth?

shaggy

June 8th, 2011
6:47 am

Of course I do. It is called p-l-a-y-i-n-g.
It is just crazy that some grandstanding doctor gets attention on this from the helicopter parents. I mean, are they so vacant minded that they need to be told to have physical contact with their own kids?????
Jeez people, live life, and let your kids laugh and play with YOU!

mom3boys

June 8th, 2011
6:51 am

While the shaking of the house used to drive me mad, I miss it so much now that they’re grown up! Parents of younger kids: do NOT pull up the carpet and put in hardwoods…it puts an end to the wrestling. The only time the horsing around got out of hand was when my husband picked up the 4 year old to take him to bed, threw him up in the air, and then his head hit the door jam…the blood ran down the wall, and the screaming was pretty intense. Gwinnett Med fixed him right up, and 11 years later we laugh about it…but it wasn’t funny at the time. I took care of bedtime after that incident.

TallMom

June 8th, 2011
7:03 am

I agree…it says a lot about today’s parents that they have to be told how to play with their kids. Makes me very, very sad.

Oh well…at least there are kids out there like mine…boy or girl, doesn’t matter…all of ‘em can take you down when you least expect it! :-)

iRun

June 8th, 2011
7:33 am

Bah – don’t worry about hardwoods. My house is 85 years old and is 100% hardwood, even the kitchen and bathrooms.

My husband and son still bodyslam each other into the floor on a near daily basis. They’re fine.

Sk8ing Momma

June 8th, 2011
7:43 am

I’m not a roughhouser & never have been, even as a child. The good news is that my husband is and my kids, particularly my son, love it! My daughter is more cut from the same cloth from which I am.

We’re pretty loose and free regarding free play around here. Although I don’t enjoy it, I recognize that many boys, including my 9yo, really get into it and it is a primary form of socialization. I’m a huge proponent of free play and allow my son to engage in roughhousing if that’s how he chooses to spend his free time.

There is one thing that really burns my biscuits: moms who prohibit their sons from roughhousing. I’ve seen countless times where moms instruct their sons to stop roughhousing…C’mon! It’s what (most) boys do!! I’m not a fan of wimpy kids, particularly boys. Moms, let your boys be boys! It’s how they socialize.

RJ

June 8th, 2011
7:47 am

I have never cared to wrestle, but my son does with his friends. I don’t worry because it’s how they play. It’s all harmless fun. My daughter is like me. She doesn’t care for it.

iRun

June 8th, 2011
7:51 am

I don’t roughhouse with my son anymore because he’s almost 90lbs. He’s 10. Built like his dad, meaning like a running back. Very tanklike.

Gotta protect my precious runner’s legs, ya know.

But my husband can take him just fine. For now.

Tairy Greene

June 8th, 2011
7:57 am

mom3boys, I’d like to “roughhouse” with your kids

iRun

June 8th, 2011
8:00 am

momof3 – we had a similar head bashing episode when my son was ~1yr. No blood, though. After that my husband did a double take to make sure there were no obstacles before launching our son 15 feet into the air…

newblogger

June 8th, 2011
8:04 am

I can’t roughhouse with my boys anymore (10 and 20) but I sure do miss those days! Now they roughhouse with each other and with my husband. Although he says he’s getting too old for them too! Through the years there have been times when someone got carried away and the other person ended up with a minor pain, but that’s a learning experience too. I think open ended free play without the aid of toys of any kind is such a wonderful thing. (Just for the record…I think toys and video games are o.k. too. A little bit of it all makes a well rounded child in my opinion.)

motherjanegoose

June 8th, 2011
8:11 am

Yes we did…even with the dogs and our dog loves it!

JJ

June 8th, 2011
8:18 am

We did too!!! My daughter and I used to tumble in the living room, on my bed, in the yard, etc. My dad roughhoused with us as kids too……

How sad to have to go to a workshop to learn how to play with kids. We need to go back to the 60’s and 70’s and just let them be kids. Let them run with the neighborhood kids. Let them get into trouble, it helps the decision making process. Let your kids fall, and let them pick themselves up. It builds character!!!!!

I’ve always, all my life, lived in neighborhoods with tons of kids. Growing up, we played kickball, football, kick the can, hide & seek, etc. We hiked in the mountains, with NO ADULTS. We rode our bikes all over town, with NO ADULTS. We rode the city bus to the mall, with NO ADULTS. We went to the community pool with NO ADULTS.

I’ve always been active and enjoyed it. I love being around kids, but lately I have a low tolerance for the loud, obnoxious kids…….but I can always go to my home, where it’s very quiet.

ali

June 8th, 2011
8:20 am

My daughter and I chase each other around the house…usually I’m doing the chasing and then I tickle her..our dog, Bella also likes to join in with jumping and growling. I love it! My daughter loves it! I think it helps build a stronger bond with her!

Lori

June 8th, 2011
8:32 am

Of course we play and roughhouse with our son. It’s fun. It’s sad for kids who don’t get this from their parents. My sister’s husband never plays with his sons and when they are over at my house, you can tell they aren’t sure how to react when my husband plays with them. We don’t body slam on the hardwoods, though, we use the couch and the bed!! But the funnest thing we do is the sword fights. We have these foam swords that don’t hurt and we whack the crap out of each other with them. Lots of fun!

motherjanegoose

June 8th, 2011
8:35 am

JJ…my daughter remarked, yesterday, how the kids used to head outside after dinner and play until it was dark. There are not many smaller kids on our block now. She watches a neighbor’s son who is 10 and she said that there are not as many kids to hang out with, for him. While we have 15 kids in college, there are maybe 5 under 12. The older kids mixed pretty well but the younger kids do not play together.

mom3boys

June 8th, 2011
8:55 am

@Lori…my guys loved swords, too…when we moved into our house, my oldest asked the movers as they carried each box, “is that my arsenal??”

Techmom

June 8th, 2011
9:01 am

There’s always a lot of roughhousing in our house. My son wrestles in school so even as he’s gotten older, it hasn’t stopped. He’s always gotta show his dad the latest move… which usually ends with my husband sitting on him and holding him down (who needs skill when you got a hundred pounds on your opponent??!!) It does crack me up with his friends will come over and you can tell there is no rough housing going on in their houses. It’s like they’re hesitant but usually once the running and chasing ensues in our house, everyone gets drug into the ‘game’.

mom of 3

June 8th, 2011
9:01 am

Absolutely rough-housing with the kids. It’s called playing and having fun. Yes, someone might get a knot on the head or a bloody nose but that’s called opps not so rough next time. Kids can’t be kids anymore because parents are too dang protective and have to plan every minute of their lives. I miss the screaming, the laughter, the crying and the noise. Cut off the tv, the video games and see how far you can soar your sibling in the air while lying on the floor and using your feet as a launching pad…..

motherjanegoose

June 8th, 2011
9:24 am

@ Techmom…our family is all about jokes and silliness. We have had all sorts of crazy names for each other and even our dog. Currently, our dog is sitting in the PRINCESS CHAIR in the bedroom. This is HER chair as she perches there to look at the squirrels and birds in the backyard. She gets snippy if I leave clothes or a purse on it :0

Like you, when other kids came to our house they did not know how to react. Some families are very serious or do not even talk with their kids about anything.

Yesterday, I spoke with the man who owns the recording studio I use. He is older than I am by 5 years. His degree is in communications and he has LOTS of experience working with a broad spectrum of people, different from me. He told me that studies are showing a drop in interpersonal relationships due to technology. This man has more money invested in technology than most anyone I know, yet he related how many are losing their people skills. He cited statistics that were way over my head. He also mentioned that he posted this on his Facebook: He is frustrated (with people) and that he could become a hermit and move anywhere he wished…what should he do? He then laughed and said, “Many replied….RUN…you are lucky that you can…I wish I could join you!” HMMMM…

PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS…they are not getting it in school, that is for sure. They may know facts, for tests, but can they problem solve?

jarvis

June 8th, 2011
9:37 am

Does they actually quote data in their book? “There are clear signs showing that it helps kids’ academic success” is such an shrink’s statement.

Can I see your study? Can you define what a “clear sign” is?

And where does he get that kids don’t play grabass anymore? My four-year-old’s T-Ball team became non-functional at times because of the roughhousing. It’s as natural in boys as digging in the dirt.

I’m all for roughhousing. I’ve been a championship-level grabass player as long as I can remember, and continue to take part with with my friends well into my 30’s.

jarvis

June 8th, 2011
9:37 am

Or do they as it should have been. Got got between he and they.

jarvis

June 8th, 2011
9:42 am

JJ

June 8th, 2011
9:56 am

Jarvis – step away from the alcohol…It’s a little too early, don’t cha think? LOL….

jarvis

June 8th, 2011
10:03 am

Or it’s too late seeing as I’m still working on last night’s bender. ;)

JJ

June 8th, 2011
10:05 am

A little hair of the dog…???

JOD

June 8th, 2011
10:39 am

File this under Duh! We mainly have tickle fights and play ‘chase me’ – dogs included. If someone isn’t laughing ’til they almost throw up, it’s not any fun.

@iRun – DD has NO FEAR. Maybe our kids can work for Cirque du Soleil someday?

JJ

June 8th, 2011
10:45 am

Are they any campers out there? I have a brand new Coleman Dome 5 person tent, 10×10. I bought it on a whim, and I have never used it or taken it out of the box. It retails for $140, but I’m looking to sell it for about $125.

Is anyone interested? I’ll be happy to ship it……

jarvis

June 8th, 2011
11:52 am

JJ, this isn’t Craig’s List. Stop trying to sell the things you’re picking up at the yard sales.

JATL

June 8th, 2011
12:01 pm

Love roughhousing and seeing and hearing my boys roughhouse with each other! So sad some parents are so silly and protective, but I’ve witnessed it a lot because my two want to wrestle everyone! I make sure they’re not too roughand no one is crying, but it’s always sad to me when a mom tells her kid to stop immediately when roughhousing with one of my boys and they’re all laughing. Our love of roughhousing is one reason we won’t buy new living room furniture! As for hardwoods-no problem. We have an area rug and my two don’t seem to mind the wood. And yes they do have an arsenal of swords and toy rifles and guns and they love chasing and “fighting” with them. My specialty with them is tickle fighting.

JJ

June 8th, 2011
12:25 pm

@jarvis – I have it on craigslist, my facebook, and now here. I’m networking…..

jarvis

June 8th, 2011
1:00 pm

I have a baby crib I’m selling, think we should package them?

LM

June 8th, 2011
1:26 pm

I remember when I was a kid. I would get jealous when my Mom and Brother would roughhouse. When I asked my Mom why should would not do the same with me, she said it was because I got to serious. I didn’t understand then what she meant. Looking back from a parents perspective I understand what she was saying. I got agressive and wanted to win, what they were doing was just playing. As a parent you really have to know your child, what is good for one is not always best for the other.

I used to have a great time rough-houseing with my daughter, we’d get into tickle fits and rolling off the bed, or poking her as she walked by and she would laugh and launch an attack. Now that she is older she acts like it is the worst thing in the world to goof off.

I miss the days of hearing her giggle and laugh.

motherjanegoose

June 8th, 2011
2:00 pm

I have all sorts of things I do not need around here…I stick with Craigslist and Garage Sales.
Typically, if it is a wanted item or a good deal it goes quickly. Yes, some of my stuff never even got a look and then it was donated. That is just me.

JJ

June 8th, 2011
2:11 pm

My daughter sold her iPhone for $140, then turned around and bought a brand new one for $49, with an upgrade on our plan…..

jbm

June 8th, 2011
2:21 pm

I love craigslist. Finally found me a 67 Camaro last week on there. JJ, I love camping but I cheat and stay in our camper :) You’ll get a buyer, just make sure to keep re-posting it. I never look at ads over 3 days posted as most are sold by then.

JJ

June 8th, 2011
2:37 pm

@jbm – I’m SOOOOOOOOOOO jealous about the Camero…..I could love a ‘67 SS…..and a 65 Mustang……

JJ

June 8th, 2011
2:39 pm

*would* love a camero….

jbm

June 8th, 2011
3:28 pm

JJ – had to sell my 68 camaro SS just to finish our house a few years ago. Hubby hasn’t heard the end of it so he bought another one to shut me up. At least he does body work and can do it all himself. I’m still guessing it’ll take a year or so to do the restoration though.

catlady

June 8th, 2011
3:39 pm

Some folks use “roughousing’ or “just playing” to take out their aggression on the child. When the kid gets hurt and cries, the person says, “Hey, I was just playing” and sulks.

JATL

June 8th, 2011
9:05 pm

@catlady -seriously? That’s warped!

Larry Cohen

June 9th, 2011
12:11 am

Hi, I’m one of the leaders of those infamous roughhousing workshops, along with my co-author, and I would like to clarify a few things. First, we’ve held these workshops in small towns and small cities in Massachusetts and Michigan, not just in New York City. Second, everyone at the workshops knows how to pillow fight, of course, and knows how to wrestle–but they all have agreed that it’s even more fun to do in a group. But, none of them knew–before the workshop, how to do Houdini, Red Tornado, Rogue Dumbo, or any of the other cool moves that we teach at these workshops. So what? Well, even the most seasoned roughhousers can use some new tricks and new moves. And some people, who I call reluctant roughhousers, are pleased to learn some ways to make sure that roughhousing stays safe and doesn’t rev the kids up too much. I’m sure every participant in these workshops would have been just fine without it–but everyone who came had a great time. Learn more at theartofroughhousing.com

djm_NC

June 9th, 2011
8:19 am

@JJ–you really should go use the tent. really. i bet youd love it! camping is awesome….

djm_NC

June 9th, 2011
8:21 am

roughhousing should rev the kids up and it isnt always safe! my kids have their best scars and stories from some serious roughhousing!!

djm_NC

June 9th, 2011
8:24 am

@MJG-the neighborhood where i grew up in atlanta was like yours-when i was growing up there were kids everywhere!! all over-in each others houses and yards-all kinds of games being played etc….then for several year there were very few kids and it seemed so sad and deserted! now it has come back around…some of my generation have moved into the parents houses (on their parents deaths or the parents moving to a smaller place for example) and now there are once again a passell of kids running around. nothing makes a neighborhood like yards full of kids!

djm_NC

June 9th, 2011
8:26 am

oh i would love to have my first car back….a metalic blue 69 camaro! i know who has it….he wont let it go ever lol

motherjanegoose

June 9th, 2011
8:33 am

@djm…haha…I DO NOT CAMP. I grew up camping and while I love the fresh air of outdoors, I prefer my own shower and bed sheets. I have stayed in some pretty swanky hotels and when your eyes are closed it does not matter, to me. I do not want the hassle of packing everything I need for a vacation, that camping affords. I just want to pack my suitcase and walk into a clean room. No cooking or setting up. My sister and her husband take off and camp for a month, in their nice trailer. They love it. If I had to do it, you may as well shoot me. To each his/her own.

djm_NC

June 9th, 2011
9:00 am

MJG-i do love to camp. i have gotten to the age that i need to have a mattress of some kind-but i still love tent camping. i do also love those 4 and 5 star hotels too tho! 2 very different experiences. nothing like a great spa experience and room service!

Daycare Provider

June 9th, 2011
2:34 pm

I think rough housing with your own kids is great but you must teach them that there is a time and place. I run an in home preschool and have 1 boy that is just extreme. He doesn’t understand that it is not okay to push or tackle people outside the home. There are limits and that comes with rough housing.

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