Why Roughhousing Is Good For Kids And Parents

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From almost immediately after our first child was born, I noticed that my husband was much less gentle with our daughter than I was. Now that our kids are older, this difference in our styles means that he does most of the roughhousing with them. He’s taught them how to do flips and how to fly through the air without fear. They’re not timid at the playground and when I think about how I was just that at times, it delights me. I want strong, confident girls with good relationships with their father.

But who knew that this was a lost art? Drs. Anthony T. DeBenedet and Lawrence J. Cohen are out with a new book in defense of roughhousing. They say that physical play is everywhere marginalized — whether it’s gym classes getting shorter, recess periods being eliminated, the emphasis on so-called playground safety over fun, and parental neglect. They say the decline of this physical activity is a major contributing factor in the rise of “visual horseplay” via video games.

So they came out with The Art of Roughhousing. Just released, the book argues that rough play can nurture close connections, solve behavior problems and boost confidence. The book includes games for parents looking for ideas about how to better play physically with their children.

I’m totally behind this idea and wish the book authors the very best. But I have to admit that the Roughhousing workshops they put on make me want to weep for humanity. I really hope they’re just promotional ideas for the book and not a real thing, because if — as pictured below — you need an expert to teach you how to pick up a pillow and hit another person with it, our parents are in a world of hurt.