Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Art of Roughhousing

The topic is in the news today, but we've known it all along. Good old-fashioned roughhousing is often what fathers do best – tossing a child into the air, playful wrestling, tumbling together on the floor. Roughhousing is a welcome release of both love and stress for work-weary dads. For children, it is over-the-top, laugh-out-loud fun.

Our children are natives in a technology world, which does little to get their bodies moving. Their outside play is often limited in the name of safety. That makes the body-building physical involvement of father play all the more important.

In The Art of Roughhousing, authors DeBenedet and Cohen suggest pillows on the floor, guidelines for safety (huge!), and limits on "going too far." Horseplay quickly goes over the line. Children cannot instinctively gauge their own power, or play by the rules. My word of caution: what begins as fun, like tickling, often leads to tears. Sometimes not even dads sense when to stop. And when a child transfers tickling into his own play, he too pushes the limits. Maybe with the hilarity of tossing, tumbling, and wrestling, you don't need tickling. Remember, if a father – the ringmaster of roughhousing – winds a child up, he must be sure to wind him down!

A father's rough-and-tumble play is an ideal complement to a mother's nurturing. Know also that, intertwined in the layers of play, a child:
  • Gains higher intellectual, motor, and social growth as early as his first year
  • Acquires gross motor skills, which precede fine motor skills
  • Learns to give and take, build self-control, and manage himself within boundaries
And you thought you were just having fun!

A Colorful Thought:
Your playful presence colors your child like the sun's radiant light over water.


  1. what a wonderful and insightful post.

  2. Thanks, AnneB. So glad to hear from you. Look for me on FB, Marjorie Nelsen home page. Scroll down under my picture to Colored with a Positive Crayon, my business page. More posts there. Just clicked on your picture and loved your profile!