One of the greatest things about being a dad is getting to engage in horseplay with your kids. Sad to say that recently roughhousing with your kids has been discouraged. Most of this has been in response to concern for kids’ health, most namely ADHD. It has been found that at least 40% of US school districts have already eliminated, or are thinking of eliminating recess, due to the need for more classroom time and because they are afraid of children getting hurt.
Recent research however, shows that roughhousing serves a purpose and provides tons of benefits to kids. Research done by Larry Cohen and Anthony DeBenedet (2011) has shown that rather than encouraging violence, roughhousing makes kids emotionally intelligent, ethical, lovable, likeable, smarter, physically fit and joyful.
Roughhousing Boosts Your Kid’s Resilience. It is important as a parent that you help your child develop a resilient spirit, one that is capable of bouncing back from unpredictable situations and from failures. What better way to do this than by roughhousing with them? When you roughhouse with your child, it requires your child to adapt to unpredictable situations. Roughhousing is very unpredictable; the more you roughhouse the more resilient your child will become. In addition to this, you child will learn to stick with something.
It Makes Your Kid Smarter. Research has shown that the amount of roughhousing a child is involved in predicts their achievement level in the first grade better than their kindergarten scores do (Pellegrini, Anthony).
What is it about rough play that makes kids smarter? First, roughhousing makes your child more resilient. It is resilience that is the key to a child’s intelligence. Kids who are resilient are more likely to view failure as a challenge and not something that defines them. This means that your child will bounce back easier and quicker, enabling your child to go forward and learn more.
Neuroscientists found that bouts of rough-and-tumble play increase the brain’s level of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), this increases neuron growth in the parts of the brain responsible for memory, logic, and higher learning–skills necessary for academic success.
Roughhousing Teaches Your Kid Morality. Roughhousing with our kids helps them learn boundaries and the difference between right and wrong. If your kid does something that is not to be tolerated, such as kicking, you can reprimand them and then show by example what appropriate roughhousing behavior is. The same is true if they use too much force when roughhousing. You tell them when too much is being delivered.
Roughhousing Builds Social Intelligence. Contrary to what most moms think, roughhousing makes kids more adept emotionally and socially. The mentioned research shows that “lack of experience with rough-and-tumble play hampers the normal give-and-take necessary for social mastery and has been linked with poor control of violent impulses later in life.” Roughhousing teaches kids what the difference is between actual play and aggression. (From “The Art of Roughhousing”)
Roughhousing Gets Your Kid Physically Active. It’s pretty obvious how this works out. Any kid up and roughhousing uses more energy than kids sitting on the couch watching TV.
Roughhousing Builds the Father-Child Bond. Finally, just the fact that you are spending time with the kids will create a closer bond with you.