Roughhouse play

It took me quite awhile to be ok with roughhouse play. And you know, it was initially more that I was worried about other parents’ expectations about the play and how we responded to it than the play itself. Although I did harbour some concerns about the kids getting hurt. But I also noticed it was hard for the kids to come back down from their roughhouse high.

I tried encouraging my son to play differently for a little while. We have no toy guns or weapons in our home (we do have a water pistol but that’s a bit different right?). But it’s funny how easily a clothes hanger and elastic band can become a bow, or a stick can become a sword…

Then I started reading articles and books about why children need roughhouse play, and why playing with toy guns can be okay. Our kindy teacher also talked to me about how important roughhouse play is and how they managed it in the playground.

I’ve learnt that this kind of play has many benefits ~ it helps kids learn their limits, builds emotional resilience and empathy, and it allows dad’s to connect with their kids in a way that might feel more comfortable. 

So I got comfortable with the idea and more able to defend it.

Now we have rules to minimise risk (no sticks near faces for example), and we encourage the kids to help their friends if someone does accidentally get hurt. Story telling can also be used to encourage safe rough play.

And you know what, my husband loves a bit of roughhouse play ~ and nothing is more fun than roughhousing with your dad!

How do you feel about roughhouse play?

Warmly, Kelly

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11 Comments

  • Reply Kim September 29, 2014 at 5:22 am

    I had to deal with my thoughts on this last year when I found out the some of the boys in my little mans nature program were playing “guns” in the woods (yes using sticks as guns). The more I read, the more comfortable I became with it. In this particular situation I had a pretty good feeling that boundaries for this kind of play had not been set, and this concerned me the most. Since then we haven’t experienced that kind of play again, but I know it will show up again, and I feel much better equipped to handle my feelings about it now 🙂

  • Reply Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky September 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    We love wrestling in our house, it’s stacks on everyone! As a teacher I’ve learned that you can have a ‘no guns’ policy but kids will just get real good at doing it when you’re not looking.

  • Reply Anastasia Saenko September 29, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    I am sure many parents of boys can relate to what you have to say here! Such wise resolutions! Thank you for sharing! Pinning!

  • Reply melissa squire September 29, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    I can certainly relate. My kids often get over excited when they roughhouse with my husband but he does a wonderful job of letting them know when it’s getting too rough or when it’s time to start calming down. It has become a weeknight family game to ‘get Dad’ when he comes home from work and I have learnt to look forward to this time as I get a few moments to myself while they wrestle 🙂

  • Reply Zena September 30, 2014 at 12:20 am

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  • Reply Zena September 30, 2014 at 12:26 am

    I use to spend all day telling my son to be gentle and then when his dad got home he would bowl him over and they would roughhouse together. Of course I also thought pretend guns were too violent until I read Heaven on Earth by Sharifa Oppenheimer and she talks about letting boys play with guns or pretend guns. She keeps them in a box and the children can ask to play with them. After a good amount of time or when it gets a bit too rough the “guns” get put away. Rough housing is perfectly normal and healthy for boys. When my brother and I were little we played all day in the yard such games as chasing the baddie of course this was always instigated by my brother because he is a boy!

  • Reply SaraJane October 1, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    My girls like a bit of roughhouse play too!

  • Reply Amie M October 1, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    With three boys in the house and our ‘pink tomboy’ roughhousing is a daily (hourly!) occurance. Most of the time I am okay with it, but sometimes it looks like it is going to far and I need to step in and redirect the play.

  • Reply Kate Lloyd October 6, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    This sort of play scares me as I’ve seen so many kids at school cause accidents, however, I think when it’s strictly supervised and limits set (as you say) then it’s not a problem.

  • Reply Katey Higgs October 7, 2014 at 9:34 am

    I have a little one with hypermobility and a lot feels like a little for him and he is always seeking that sensory feedback from crashing and banging. He loves wrestling with me and his Dad! Thank you for this post.

  • Reply katef October 7, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    I can definitely relate!
    I’ve struggled with the idea of rough play – as a teacher and as a parent. Even though I understand how important it is, I still had trouble letting go and trusting that my kids would learn and work it out.
    At preschool I managed it with a range of clear limits, but at home I have more freedom to let go a little more and I am always surprised at how much care my kids can take even when in the middle of a ‘fight’ and how much empathy and understanding they show for each other… I always felt this kind of play would encourage the opposite!

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