A Parent’s Guide to Keeping Roughhousing Safe and Fun

Art-of-RoughhousingSome popular new books are putting roughhousing back in the spotlight. Many experts agree that horseplay can be good for kids as long as sensible precautions are taken to prevent injuries and aggression or damage to your home.
How Roughhousing Helps Your Kids

  1. Develop emotional intelligence and social skills. Playtime is more than fun. Kids learn to take turns and cooperate with others. They develop the ability to manage their emotions even when they feel excited. You also teach your kids important ethical lessons when you hold back in a pillow fight so they get a chance to win.
  2. Build confidence. Physical play may be especially important for girls to help them feel more strong and secure. All kids benefit from developing resilience to bounce back from mistakes, adapt quickly to unpredictable events, and solve problems.
  3. Become more physically active. Sedentary lifestyles are contributing to an epidemic of obesity. Turn off the TV and head out to the back yard for a game of touch tag.
  4. Strengthen family bonds. Physical touch is one way all living creatures show affection and caring. Tickling your kids a little or falling on the floor so they can crawl on you helps to spread the love around.

Getting Your Kids Ready for Horseplay

  1. Play with your baby. Take special care during the first 6 months until your infant’s neck muscles develop to support their head. You can still bounce them gently on your knee or lift them without any dropping or shaking.
  2. Swing safely. Kids love to be twirled around. Hold them under the arms rather than by the arms or legs. It will protect their joints better.
  3. Provide additional safety as a “spotter.” Take a cue from gymnastics and weight lifting. Stick close to your child so you can correct their movements or catch them if they start to fall.
  4. Monitor your child’s reactions. Watch your child’s facial expressions and body language. Laughter confirms they’re having fun and free of fear.
  5. Stay in control. Take a pause in the antics if things are getting too wild. Make freezing in place part of the game or switch gears and go read together.
  6. Allow time to cool down. Save the roughhousing for early in the day. A couple of quiet hours before bed will help everyone sleep better. 

Getting Your Home Ready For Horseplay

  1. Spell out rules for the pool. Instruct your kids on enjoying the water responsibly. Let them know they always need an adult present. Explain why the diving board is only for one person at a time and dunking heads is a bad idea.
  2. Supervise family pets. Even well trained dogs can get excited during play fighting. Choose a pet that fits your lifestyle and train kids on how to care for them. Show them how to approach an animal without surprising them or trying to take their toys away.
  3. Seek out soft surfaces. Tumble around on the grass rather than concrete. Put mats or pillows on the floor instead of jumping on the furniture.
  4. Steer clear of valuables. Prevent accidents by putting heirlooms and fragile items out of reach. When you are all feeling rambunctious, get out of your living room and head to your local park or roller skating rink.

Get rowdy and have fun! Unstructured playtime helps children develop social skills and ethical qualities that will enrich their adult lives. The time you spend together will also draw your family closer together.

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