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What Is Roughhousing And Why Should You Be Doing This With Your Kids

Medically reviewed by Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Edamama · Updated Jun 20, 2022

    What Is Roughhousing And Why Should You Be Doing This With Your Kids

    How to play? Wrestling, sliding down the stairs, somersaults, tug of war, pillow fights. While these activities result in a messy home and lots of cleaning up to do after, allowing your children to run wild and free at home can actually be good for them. Have you heard about the concept of roughhousing and its many benefits?

    What is Roughhousing?

    “Roughhousing is play that flows with spontaneity, improvisation, and joy. It is physical, and it promotes physical fitness, release of tension, and well-being,” write Anthony T. DeBenedet, M.D. and Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D. in their book The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It.

    “And if you roughhouse with your children often—as we do—you should expect that someone will eventually get hurt. Here’s the thing: We believe that occasional bruises and scrapes are a normal part of childhood. It’s how we learned to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and stay in the game. It’s how we grew our confidence and discovered the laws of physics.”

    So before you enforce a ceasefire and get a mini heart attack from all the rowdy and rambunctious activities your kids are doing, why not join them and engage in rough-and-tumble play to reap the following benefits—not just for them, but for you as well.

    How to Play and Its Benefits

    Roughhousing makes them happier kids.

    Children get anxious and overwhelmed too, and active play helps reduce their stress level. Have you seen the joy in your child’s face when you do a chasing game or a tickle fight? Kids are happy when they play—and that joy is multiplied when Dad and Mom play with them.

    It gives them a sense of achievement.

    Imagine your child wrestling with Dad in an attempt to score just a bit of a light punch. With proper supervision, letting your child “defeat” you or an older sibling in a game or activity will help boost his self-esteem.

    It teaches kids about self-control.

    But it’s not all about winning—and your children learn this when they play rough. It’s called self-handicapping, where adults or older kids hold back on their strength and force to keep the game fair, fun, and most importantly, safe. By seeing this, the little beans learn a thing or two about self-control.

    how to play

    Roughhousing helps kids become smarter.

    According to several studies, active play is great in stimulating your child’s brain because it releases a chemical that helps protect and repair the brain, also known as Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). This kind of rowdy play helps stimulate neuron growth among kids, which aids in memory and learning. Also, the unpredictability of activities makes kids strategize and enhance their problem-solving skills.

    It improves their emotional intelligence.

    When the kids play rough, they also develop skills in reading the emotions of those playing with them. They learn to read different facial expressions and body language. In turn, they are also able to manage and control their emotions. It also allows them to act silly and make mistakes without worrying about punishment.

    It’s a form of exercise.

    With so many physical activities going on, roughhousing is also considered a fitness outlet for kids. Whether they’re being chased or they have to try hard to knock you over, kids are forced to get off the couch and break a sweat.

    It builds great parent-child connections.

    Its interactive nature allows roughhousing to create close connections between parents and kids. Your children may not remember what you gave them as presents on Christmas, but they will surely remember the wonderful fun times you got down on the floor and played rough with them.

    This story originally appeared on Edamama and is re-used with permission:


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Edamama · Updated Jun 20, 2022

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