Roughhousing, or rough and tumble play is not just good fun. It’s a great way to build close connections with your child, and to help them to feel good, emotionally and physically. It’s also the perfect opportunity for some giggle parenting.
If your child has been grumpy, whiney, aggressive or acting off-track in any way, chances are roughhousing can help to release the stress and upset that causes their ‘misbehaviour.’
In The Art of Roughhousing Lawrence Cohen and Anthony Benedet share some of the amazing science that shows it’s benefits.”Play—especially active physical play, like roughhousing—makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, loveable and likeable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful.”
Research has shown that roughhousing helps children develop empathy and that the amount of roughhousing children engage in actually determines how well they do in Kindergarten. So throw that homework in the bin and get giggling 😉
Just as with giggle parenting (playlistening) we want to make sure that we give our children the upper hand. When we roughhouse we should use our intuition to put up some resistance but let our child win in the end. There’s nothing more fun for them as they triumphantly giggle after pushing us over, or escaping our grasp. This is why with roughhousing we should never tickle as this makes children feel powerless.
One of the biggest myths is that roughhousing is just for boys. Girls need this play just as much. They need to build confidence in their bodies, and get a chance to feel their strength.
Roughhousing is perfect for bedtime to help encourage sleep. But having an impromptu session earlier in the day can be helpful particularly if your child is having lots of behavioural challenges, and lots of feelings to work through.
Sometimes it can be tricky to know how to get started, so this is the first in a series of post to share fun games to inspire you.
Gather together all the pillows you own, and put them in a stack on your bed. Tell your child, in an inviting playful tone, that this is your pillow shop and it’s shut today. Tell them you hope they don’t try to come in and get pillows. Lean on the pillows, so that they have to wrestle you for them. Put up some resistance and then let your child grab pillows from under you and run away with them. Chase them, and let them escape. Go for whatever brings the most giggles while they remain in the powerful role.
We had a lot of fun playing this game. At one point my daughter was lying with her head on the big stack of pillows. I would act all playfully frustrated and say in an exasperated tone that she couldn’t try out the pillows, then I would grab one from under her head, and then act all surprised when I saw that she was still lying on the next pillow. I would repeat and repeat. Next I had some cuddly toys be the pillow shop ‘guarders’ and they would stand at the entrance to the shop and try and block her way. But she would always win.
You can build your child’s confidence giggle by giggle. I hope these lead onto many fun roughhousing ‘moves’ of your own, and if you have any games to share I’d love to hear from you!
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