“Can we wrestle?”
This was the number one question, my three younger brothers and I would ask my father whenever he came home from work. After a long day at the office, Dad would muster up some energy, clear out the furniture from the living room, get down on all fours and then the “battle” would commence. It would usually end with Dad tickling us to death and declaring victory over his four sons, or on the rare occasion, he would cry for mercy if our coordinated attack took him down.
I’m sure many of us have similar childhood memories of fun physical activities such as wrestling, chasing, lifting, and tumbling. Such vigorous play is known by many names, including rough and tumble play, roughhousing, and play fighting.
Some parents get anxious when they see their children take part in physical play and would rather have them engage in safer activities. However, most parents shift their attitude towards rough play once they see the benefits.
If done carefully and with some precautions, rough and tumble play can result in greater physical, mental and emotional development.
Today, we will tell you all you need to know about rough and tumble play so you may embrace and encourage it in your own family.
What Are Rough and Tumble Activities?
Any high energy activity that engages major muscles falls under play fighting, as long as it’s safe and fun. Chasing, swinging, wrestling, and pillow fights are just a few to name.
However, you should be careful when playing with a child. We’ll go into details on safety in the precautions section later.
Why Should You Encourage Such Activities?
As mentioned earlier, rough and tumble play makes a positive impact on a child’s growth and development.
Here is a list of some important benefits:
1. Better Physical Health
Rough and tumble play enhances growth in children. A significant improvement in strength, flexibility, hand to eye coordination, and physique is commonly associated with such activities.
Most of us spend a lot of time watching television, using mobile phones, working on computers, and other activities that do not improve our physical health.
We don’t take part in physical activities like our kids do, which is why the obesity rate has shot over 30% in countries like America, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
It is important now more than ever to incorporate playful yet vigorous activities in our lives. Rough play gets the heart rate up, and it gets the muscles working—which is vital for sustaining a healthy life.
2. Better Mental Health
When kids engage in rough play, their mind releases a chemical responsible for stimulation of neuron growth. These neurons grow in parts of the brain responsible for language, learning, memory, and logic.
So, a little rough play can have a strong positive effect on a child’s intellectual abilities.
Allowing children to partake in activities involving physical contact is directly related to social benefits. Rough play with other children makes them realize what’s fun and what hurts.
They observe the emotional expressions of other kids to learn what is appropriate and what’s not. So, they become more emotionally intelligent and develop better relationships with others.
3. Free Entertainment
How many times has your kid bugged you about buying toys, mobile phones, gaming consoles, or paid games?
You can save this money by encouraging rough play. Kids enjoy it just as much as playing video games, and it’s a much healthier choice.
Rough and tumble play is fun, healthy, and exciting but that doesn’t mean we should let our kids or ourselves get carried away.
We must take precautions and teach them to our kids too. Here are the three most important precautions:
1. Select a Play Area
There is a time and place for everything and the same goes for rough play. So, the first step is to select a play area and tell your children to never rough play anywhere else.
This area must be a free and open space such as a small lawn, something suitable for kids wrestling or chasing each other. If you are rough playing with your kid, then an open living room might be the best place for it.
Never allow rough play near hazards, sharp/hard corners or crowded areas. Use your best judgement to keep your child safe.
2. Set a Playtime
Setting a specific playtime is important. Not only does it ensure you won’t forget, it also gives both you and your child something to look forward to. So, set not only a place but also an appropriate time for it.
3. Be Careful
Rough play can often lead to minor pain, which is nothing to worry about. But getting hit in delicate body parts such as the eyes can hurt badly and can cause serious injuries sometimes.
Pulled elbow, a common issue among children under the age of five, happens when a child is pulled by their arm.
While pulling or swinging children by their arms might get a few laughs out of them, it can also result in a trip to the hospital in the worst case.
So, it is important to be careful to ensure proper safety at all times.
Here is a list of the three most common misconceptions about rough and tumble play:
1. It Is Harmful
As we mentioned earlier, rough and tumble play causes no harm when done carefully. Follow the measures in the “Precaution Section” and you have nothing to worry about.
2. It Is Violent Behavior
A common mistake is when people wrongly characterize children tackling, wrestling, or pushing each other as violent behavior. Children mostly don’t intend to harm their peers but they behave this way because their bodies seek physical contact and sensory stimulation. Playful fighting is not a sign of violent tendencies itself.
3. It Is for Boys Only
While boys might seem to indulge in this behavior more than girls, this doesn’t mean that your daughter will not appreciate it. Some girls enjoy playful fighting now and then, others love it all the time. Nonetheless, girls benefit from it just as much as boys do.
So if you’re worried that your little girl might not be as big of a fan of playful fighting as you are, give it a shot and she might just surprise you.
Time For Some Pillow Fights
Rough and tumble play is essential for a healthy childhood.
So not only should you let your kids play a bit rough with each other, you should also join in as well for some fantastic family time. Your kids will thank you for it and your mind will too.
To keep it short, embrace it and encourage it.