I recently read, “The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It“ by Anthony DeBenedet, M.D. and Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D. What a solid book!
DeBenedet and Cohen describe the importance of physical play between parents and children. They define roughhousing this way:
“Roughhousing is play, which means that it is done for its own sake, it is joyful, and it flows with spontaneity, with improvisation, and without any worries about how we look or how much time is passing by.
Roughhousing is physical, which means that it integrates our bodies with our brains, and promotes physical fitness, release of tension, and well-being.
Roughhousing is interactive, which means it builds close connections between our children and ourselves, especially as we get down on the wrestling mat and join children in their world.
Roughhousing is rowdy, which means that it pushes us out of our inhibitions and inflexibilities. Rowdiness is not dangerous, as long as we have the safety that comes from knowledge, close supervision, and carefully paying attention.”
The bulk of the book is more of a how-to manual on various types of horseplay. This is a terrific resource to discover new and creative ways to play with your kids. There were activities described that I hadn’t even heard of and a handful of moves I’m a bit apprehensive to try. But that doesn’t mean I won’t.
In my home, we have a championship belt we’ve battled over ever since my daughter and son (ages 10 and 14) were in diapers. I didn’t start wrestling with them because of scientific research, I just did it to play with my monkeys. How interesting it is to know it’s actually helps my children in a number of ways.
As the authors claim on their website:
“Play—especially active physical play, like roughhousing—makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful.”
If you’re a parent, I’m sure you’d agree these are all traits we want our kids to have. How cool is it that playing with them is a real and tangible way to guide them there?
This book gets the GoodSirs seal of approval for equipping real guys to be real heroes.