April 21, 2018

The necessity of “rough and tumble” play

There is lots of research out about the importance of allowing our children to “rough and tumble” play. After seeing one article, I started looking around and, low and behold, this topic has been studied quite a bit. What they have found is that, as kids, our play helps us to learn our boundaries…what is too much etc. It helps kids to socialize and develops emotional regulation.

I, like many moms, was often stopping this kind of play between my kids. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt or the roughness to get out of hand, so I just always said, “no” to it. However, when I read this research, I had to stop and think about what effects my parenting this way has. In this case, I was wrong and have since told my kids that they can play fight. However, I have also established some rules around it. Such as, If someone says “stop”, we listen and stop. And, we can only be in designated areas….no play fighting near lamps, breakables, etc. With some guidelines in place, they have been enjoying their new freedom to express themselves physically with one another.

National Institute for Play:
“The importance of R&T play in animals and humans, has been shown to be necessary for the development and maintenance of social awareness, cooperation, fairness and altruism. Its nature and importance are generally unappreciated, particularly by early (preschool) teachers, who often see normal rough and tumble play behavior such as hitting, diving, wrestling, (all done with a smile, between friends who stay friends), not as a state of play, but one of anarchy that must be controlled. A natural extension of the form – as it naturally diminishes with age – is lifelong involvement in games, sports and group activities that not only tolerate, but enjoy creative tension. Lack of experience with this pattern of play hampers the normal give and take necessary for social mastery, and has been linked to poor control of violent impulses in later life.”

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