My two sons love to rough play and when they first started out with rough play, let me tell you what, I cringed! I really had to get used to the idea that rough play was fun for these too rough n tumble boys, and figure out ways to supervise that allowed them the fun with rough play. Through watching my two sons play rough, I have seen what it is that rough play actually teaches these boys and I am now an avid promoter of rough playing.
Many parents who come around, that are not parent to boys cringe at the idea that I allow my boys to play so rough. I have to explain this same scenario out to everyone who hasn’t had this experience; with rough and tumble kids. I want to be clear, girls can be just as rough and tumble as boys, they can learn the same skills that boys learn from this rough and tumble play so please be aware that this post may be focused on my sons, this pertains to girls as well.
Many nights a week my sons wish to wrestle before we start our end of night bedtime routine. If both boys are game, I allow them to wrestle which really involves some major rough housing. Take note: this is not hyper rough play, it’s calculated rough play where they each work to win the other. The goal, I believe, is usually for one of them to be pinned down over and over again. Poor Aj who lacks some fine motor skills, ends up on the ground more often than not. One rule to rough play for me, as the parent supervising, is I want to see that each have a smile on their face – meaning they look as if they are enjoying it. Rough play is for enjoyable fun, not for one to have a blast beating the other one up.
My little man started off these rough play adventures with a very arrogant side, he is my most self absorbed child which I feel is somewhat normal for his age group. I have had to work really hard to teach my little man to respect the boundaries of Aj and to really learn the cues Aj puts out there when he is genuinely hurt or simply not having fun anymore. Little man has come so far in learning his brothers cues and 99% of the time he does respect those boundaries. Each listen to ensure that they are not physically harming the other but boy do they take a beating.
Each love to grab and throw the other around, karate chop each other and simply run in a circle giggling a lot. They get rather rough to a point where I have to shut my mouth, the Mom in me will probably never be used to this rough play stuff, but it’s so important because it teaches some important life lessons and helps the boys learn how to handle testosterone boosts they will experience most of their lives.
What Kids Learn From Rough Play
Sportsmanship - If supervised properly your children will learn sportsmanship through rough play. Each allowing the other to take turns, each respecting the other winning and being happy the other one. Each attempting to compete in a healthy way with each other.
Boundaries of Other People – If supervised properly your children will learn the boundaries of the sibling they are rough housing with. For example, the boys know when to be rougher with each other and when to be a bit more careful as they have learned to read each other as well as their sister when rough playing.
How to Handle Frustration – If supervised properly your children will learn how to healthily take out frustrations and testosterone boosts, your sons will have boosts of testosterone and frustration being of the male species, rough play has actually been researched and proven to help teen boys handle testosterone fluctuations better as well as learn to handle conflict properly.
Friendship, Bonds and Sibling Love – If supervised properly your children will learn to have a sibling bond of love and friendship with their rough playing partner, each having learned the three skills and lessons above, will eventually have a larger level of trust for each other, as well as the outside world.
Do you have rough and tumble kids? Do you feel they are learning some important lessons through this play? What lessons do you think they learn?