Do your kids love to roughhouse? As a caregiver, it can be scary to let kids roughhouse because we worry they will get hurt on our watch. However, roughhousing has a lot of advantages and lessons for kids that are important to healthy development.
1. Physical Touch
As kids get older, the amount of physical touch they receive decreases. Wrestling with trusted adults and kids gives kids access to the positive touch they need. “Positive touch nurtures children, decreases stress hormones and boosts the immune system. It’s important to the development of language, physicality, and social and emotional skills,” says Frances Carlson, author of Big Body Play. Roughhousing also gives kids healthy messages around touch that counter common negative societal messages. It shows that boys can be physical with others without being aggressive and that girls can genuinely enjoy physical play, not just “nice” play.
Roughhousing requires kids learn to read nonverbal communication, to observe and decipher messages on what’s acceptable, what’s too much and how to balance the two. They learn to control their feelings and actions while engaging in an activity where emotions are naturally heightened. They also learn the basic lesson around consent, to immediately stop when asked. No matter what.
3. Setting Boundaries
When kids are wrestling, they learn to clearly communicate their needs and boundaries with others. They learn to gauge and articulate what is and isn’t OK with them, say no, and hold that boundary even when emotions are high.
Roughhousing can seem scary; however, when the adult in charge puts safety guidelines around the play, it’s a fun and learning activity for kids.