Roughhousing with Your Kids - Is it a Good Thing?

Roughhousing with Your Kids - Is it a Good Thing?

By Sperry Bilyea

Definition: “Roughhousing is essentially mutual, aggressive, interactive, high-trust play in which no one is actually getting hurt.” 

I used to cringe when the roughhousing started in my house. Truthfully, I couldn’t even watch as it turned my stomach. In my mind it was an accident waiting to happen. My husband would literally throw the boys across the room with squeals of delight. When the boys were little they loved wrestling, rolling around on the bed, slamming each other, and using the couch cushions as weapons. I never learned or enjoyed this activity, but it seems I was destined to co-found My Puffin because my fears would have been resolved if we had a play couch--a soft place to rough play! 

There is a lot of research regarding roughhousing and its benefits so if you are a parent who cringes when the play fighting starts, rest assured that research indicates that roughhousing makes for happier and more successful children. Phew! 

This is one of the best articles I have read on rough housing. It did help some of my fears and I want to share my top three favourite benefits of roughhousing: 

  1. Sense of Achievement  We know it is magical when a dad gets down on the ground and starts to tickle or play with their kids. It is a great way to release aggression and it teaches kids how to set boundaries. One of the key findings from roughhousing research is that it “gives a child a sense of great achievement when they ‘defeat’ a more powerful adult.” 
  2. Good for the Brain Roughhousing releases a brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The brain recognizes rough play as a small stressor. The child’s heart rate increases and there is a stress response that signals the brain to release BDNF. BDNF protects and repairs the brain while improving the brain’s memory and learning. For the parent, oxytocin is released which boosts the feeling of bonding and closeness. Win win. 
  3. Grit “Roughhousing is a safe place to teach kids that failure is often temporary and that victory goes to a person who is resilient, sticks to it (grit) and learns from their mistakes.” That is a great lesson to learn!

Roughhousing will continue--especially with active kids! I like that My Puffin is designed to make roughhousing a little more comfortable for dad’s knees or landing a flip throw karate chop.  

Check out other benefits of My Puffin here, and  if you are thinking of purchasing a play couch, read about what to look for when purchasing.

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