• 09 Mar - 15 Mar, 2024
  • Mag The Weekly

Roughhousing appears to be an accident waiting to happen at first glance. But this kind of play may benefit social skills and other areas as well. Your children are quietly reading or solving a puzzle one moment. Then, they're playing tug of war with a dish towel while chasing each other through the kitchen. They should probably leave the kitchen, in your opinion. Should you, however, return them to their books? Although reading has obvious advantages, may roughhousing also be advantageous?

What does roughhousing mean?
Roughhousing, or rough and tumble play, is play that involves energetic, physical activity. Play fighting and wrestling are two examples. Sometimes roughhousing can be silly rather than aggressive such as a tickle fight. Roughhousing comes in many different forms:

• wrestling
• pushing and shoving
• tickling
• pillow fighting
• chasing
• climbing
• rolling and tumbling
• jumping on the bed
• piggyback rides

It’s not just a way to burn off excess energy. Roughhousing can also be a valuable bonding opportunity for adults and kids.

Is roughhousing OK?
For children, roughhousing comes naturally and frequently. While some kids would prefer to play in a less physical way, others enjoy rough and tumble activities. Play is linked to both emotional health and cognitive growth, according to 2018 research. Does rough play, however, offer the same advantages? Simply said, absolutely. When rough play is enjoyable, it can have many advantages. It's critical to distinguish between aggressive behaviour and rough and tumble play. Although most kids are aware that roughhousing isn't actually fighting, it can get worse when anger is present.

Some subtle differences you can watch out for include:
Rough and tumble play: Children are often smiling and laughing when playing. The contact is gentle and they are eager to participate.

You may notice that the child begins to cry and contact becomes hard and harsh. The child might try to dominate the other child and not want to play anymore. If you notice that the play has become more like “real fighting,” there are ways to manage this situation and calm emotions.

Are there benefits to roughhousing?
It’s natural to worry about the chance of injury when your child roughhouses with others. It’s also important to think about the benefits, which can extend beyond extra exercise.

Roughhousing is a chance to practice some important self-regulation skills such as:

• impulse control
• emotional regulation
• attention
• communication
• sensory integration regulation

Fun roughhousing is physical enough to be challenging, but not enough to cause pain or injury. It’s often fast paced and requires focus. Rough and tumble play engages the senses and research from 2017Trusted Source suggests that it can provide several self-regulation developmental opportunities.

Healthy touch
Rough and tumble play involves touch, which may impact brain development. A 2016 study of children 5 years old found that more maternal touch during play was linked to increased activity and connectivity in certain brain regions. This can lead to more development in what researchers call the “social brain.” Touch is a key part of secure attachment in early infancy and continues to be important throughout life. Healthy social touch may even protect against substance use disorder, according to research from 2019.

Children practice important social skills when they roughhouse. Non-verbal communication such as body language and facial expressions is an important part of play. Not only do kids convey feeling this way, but they also learn to pick up on the social cues of their playmates. This skill enables them to tell when a friend needs a break or the play is too rough. Picking up on these signals can help them learn about consent and boundaries.