Did you know there are many rough-and-tumble play benefits for your children? Every time I lay on the floor my girls ( 2 and 6 years old) throw themselves at me and start to play rough-and-tumble and some pretty dangerous games. I was always a bit scared of those, but they enjoyed it so much, that we did it on a daily basis. The more dangerous it was, the more they were screaming with excitement. Those harmless wrestling with kids games were their favorite playtime.
A while ago I accidentally came across the information about how roughhousing has a great impact on our kids! I was stunned…
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Rough and Tumble Play Benefits
Let me walk you through some basic information on roughhousing and wrestling with kids and then I will show you how we do it.
- First of all, when I say rough, I don’t mean hurting someone or causing pain… Just some at-first-sight rough or dangerous games in a safe and secure area that you have under control.
- When you begin this game it is a bit of a small stressor. Everything wakes up, their heart rate increases and their mind thinks like it has entered a superhero cartoon and fought with the devil… LOL.
- To keep the mind safe BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) is released. It is some kind of system-made medicine for healthy brain growth and development. After worth, they are more relaxed, happier, and connected to us.
- Think of it as a sort of practice on how to cope with challenging, unpredictable situations, but in a safe place, where they learn we are always near to protect and support them. These new situations teach their brain how to cope with new, unexpected, and unfamiliar situations in life and how to manage all the new emotions that will come.
- Rough Play Helps Build Social Skills – children gain self-control and become more emotionally confident
- They become physically stronger – they improve their complex motor learning skills, concentration, and coordination, and use ist as cardiovascular fitness.
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Some Research on Rough-and-Tumble Games
“Rough-and-tumble play definitely doesn’t make kids more aggressive. And it has lots of social and emotional benefits.” – Educational psychologist Jennifer St George
- Educational psychologist Jennifer St George observed 24 dads and their 4-year-olds playing physical games in recent research published in the journal Infant and Child Development. Roughhousing, or play that involves bodily contact, has been demonstrated to assist children to learn to take risks safely, practice understanding others’ emotions, develop impulse control, and learn to deal with frustration, among other things, according to her results.
Wrestling With Kids is Pure Fun
- You will see that laughter will release all the stress and they will be calmer, and more cooperative with whatever obligations they have.
- It’s about having fun! Not winning… That is something they will learn and enjoy.
- It’s about spending time with mum or dad, or both, making a stronger connection and feeling so close to you. Roughhousing makes your bond even stronger. They learn you are always ready to have fun, will never hurt them, and will keep them safe.
- Seeing you holding back not to cause pain will teach them self-control. Also, it will teach an older sibling how to play with a younger, smaller brother or a sister… or a friend.
- It’s about moments when everything else disappears… Not one trouble in their mind… Just pure fun and laughing out loud. Doesn’t this sound like paradise for kids?
Everyone Can Do It!
The most benefits get kids from 2 to 8 years old, but hey… Everyone is welcome and having fun has no age limit.
- Children often use this method to show affection for friends, it strengthens their relationship. Parents must always guide them on boundaries and the respect needed when roughhousing with a friend. They must learn that having fun is not so funny anymore. It must be accepted and willingly by both sides.
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Tears During Roughhousing
Tears aren’t as bad as you might think. It is actually a good thing sometimes.
When they start to cry, and it seems it’s because of the game, but if you know that the child didn’t really get hurt... It is actually getting bad feelings out of the system. Something they have been holding back and just couldn’t process, some deep wounds, worries, or memories stuffed somewhere in that wondrous mind of a child.
Let them cry it out… Hold them, and give them comfort. A good cry is something we all should do sometimes. Holding everything and swallowing it inside doesn’t do us any good. So, let them cry and be sad if it comes to that.
Our Rough-and-Tumble Games?
There is no rule actually, most of the time it is just something that comes to us at the moment.
- I lay on the floor and my girls throw themselves at me, and then I bounce them off as I pretend I am some kind of a monster or a tiger
- Wrestling with kids game... This one my older understands better. It’s a real wrestling match where I try to throw her on her back. I must say, she is pretty strong and I don’t have to pretend I cannot do it ha-ha.
- Pilates ball as a trampoline: I put the ball in the corner of the sofa on the floor, hold it with my knees and they hold my hands and jump really high
- Pillow fight – I think you all know what that looks like, right?!
- Karate fight – We often pretend to have karate fights, but this one needs to be careful, so nobody gets hurt. You can even dress up for it!
So that you can understand me better maybe it’s better to show you… Check out our short roughhousing compilation. Hope you like it…
Here is one more great video with one great dad and his rough-and-tumble games – The Art of Manliness. Do check it out… Keep up the good work Brett!
Enjoy rolling on the floor with your little ones, wake up the baby inside you. I am sure there are lots of benefits for us adults also. If nothing, just seeing their smile makes us happier and healthier.
WE ARE STRONGER THAN WE ALL THINK!
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In many ways, we have become very sensitive to how one course of action affects another. This can be hugely beneficial but sometimes it can be a situation in which we take away joy for no payoff. I was never much for roughhousing but for people to jump to thinking it is abuse is quite an assumption.
I love this post so much. I think it’s important to remember that roughousing and abuse are two entirely different things. AND that roughousing does not promote violence.
I think roughhousing has got a bad wrap over the years. There’s something to be said for physical play. It’s not bad by any means. Love it.
I loved roughhousing when I was growing up. I have such fond memories of rolling around on the floor with my father.
My husband is the roughhouser in our family. He started with our son and now he wrestles a bit with our daughter. Everyone has great fun — except me. I am always worried about injuries LOL
It’s such a fun activity to do with kids. I don’t see this as a problem if it’s done in a safe way. My son and my husband enjoy it very much. I usually join in and then we have triple fun! Great article.
I think, through the physical play of roughhousing, kids gain emotional intelligence, joy, morality, physical fitness, and wisdom. I was never much for this activity. Still, as long as it follows basic safety rules, it can have significant benefits for both kids and adults.
I love how you highlighted the benefits of this type of play. Like you mentioned, one of the most important parts of this is making sure you’re “in a safe and secure area that you have under control.” I’m sure your kids absolutely love getting to play with mom & dad like this on a daily basis!
Roughhousing as a kid taught me to respect people’s boundaries and how to express mine as well. It’s fun and harmless if you listen to one another!
Personally i love roughhouse because it is sometimes creative and fun for kids. Thanks for sharing with us
Roughhousing is always fun! We usually do this on the weekend and brings so much joy to the family!
This is the first time I heard about roughhousing. It seems like its “tough love” but I think it has benefits. I will never assume that it is abuse.
This is really fun! My kids love roughhouses too when they were small!
While I thought pretty much everyone would rough house with their children, I never thought that it could actually be beneficial – just a fun way to connect with your kids. Interesting. Blessings
So funny you say this. My son is 4 and his teacher just explained how important rough housing is!