One of the finest arts we can learn (or re-learn) as a parent is the art of play. All children cherish the physical connection with their parents. Each day, even so much as a nice big bear hug, can help them feel their absolute best. When it comes to play, roughhousing specifically, they learn to be more confident, release many of their fears and anxieties and feel a connection with their parents on the most basic and primal level.
It doesn’t matter if your child is a boy or a girl, or if it is Mom or Dad doing the roughhousing. Horseplay is just a part of being a mammal. Many, if not all mammals engage in horseplay from puppies to monkeys, tiger cubs to bears. Chasing each other, wrestling around, and roughhousing is an integral part to the stability, confidence, and happiness of the family structure.
Many scientific studies suggest that roughhousing doesn’t increase or’s play outside of the home or at inappropriate times but actually can minimize this behavior. It’s also been said that roughhousing is fuel for the brain. Boiled down to the most basic benefit, you are interacting with your child in simple and instinctual play. More so, roughhousing can be a fun way to include physical fitness, problem-solving, wisdom, emotional intelligence, and so many other positive attributes.
Roughhousing with your child can make them more resilient and develop a realistic idea of their own physical limitations and sensitivities. Roughhousing breaks down every day barriers and allows your child to experiment and make mistakes without punishment. Their emotional intelligence increases as they learn how to manage the strong emotions that they feel. They are able to release the stress they have built up throughout the day and manage the release in a positive way.
Roughhousing is a platform to teach your child about taking risks, and persevering. Your job in this scenario is to support your child and guide them as to what roughhousing is and how far to take it. always remember that this is “play” not a lesson in violence. Roughhousing should always be fun and playful as you want to hear laughter and squeals of joy, not tears! Be a good example of modeling how you can hold back and go easy on your child despite you being much bigger and stronger. Show fairness, and you will help your child learn to emulate that type of behavior. At the same time you are letting your child build confidence when you let them win. Remind them however that winning isn’t the ultimate goal, but positively channeling your energy into a fun and connecting way is.
Roughhousing builds the parent – child connection as it is a loving and physical interaction with your child. You have fun, and forget about all your stresses. You are truly teaching your child to be in the moment and don’t be surprised if they ask to roughhouse every day here after. There are an endless amount of benefits to this simple game of play and very few drawbacks. The occasional accidental bump and bruise is also a great time to share lessons of forgiveness, saying we are sorry, and caring for others.
What are you waiting for? Go play with your kids!