By Fredrica Syren:
My two boys are getting into wrestling and can play for hours. I’m not too surprised since they enjoy rough play with both their dad and me. In my kids’ minds, the louder and wilder, the better.
Roughhousing is not always looked upon as a good thing. How often do we hear a parent say, “No wrestling, guys” or “We don’t want anyone to get hurt”?
Rough play or wrestling might be something we as parents feel is not a good idea; however, it’s an important part of a child’s development. Roughhousing with kids teaches them to manage and deal with pain. Of course this does not mean you should intentionally hurt your child, but during wrestling or roughhousing, bumps and scrapes happen, which helps them understand that it’s ok. It also teaches children about failure because, during roughhousing, usually one person is on top. It’s important to make them work for a victory, whether it’s trying to run past you or to escape from your grip and find a safe place. This will teach them strategy without feeling as if they have failed.
One very important lesson children learn from roughhousing is boundaries. What better way to teach children what is ok and what is not, and how to stop when someone says “ouch” or “no” or “stop”? During rough play, we teach our children what a magic word is and to stop, that “no” means “we must stop.” We also teach them about strength and how hitting too hard or hitting in especially sensitive areas is not okay.
Roughhousing with your children is a great way to teach them that winning is not everything and compassion is everything. This will make them good friends and good human beings. And remember, roughhousing is not only for boys — girls love it and benefit from it, too.
If you want to learn more about horseplay and roughhousing with your kids, I recommend the book The Art of Roughhousing.