We all want kids who end up like Atticus Finch–moral, upright, compassionate. That’s exactly why you need to body slam your kid every now and then.
When we roughhouse with our sons and daughters, they learn boundaries and the difference between right and wrong. If they start hitting hard, aiming below the belt, or becoming malicious, you can reprimand them and then show by example what’s appropriate roughhousing behavior.
Also, roughhousing teaches our children about the appropriate use of strength and power. As I mentioned earlier, when we roughhouse with our kids, we often take turns with the dominant role. Because we’re so much bigger and stronger, we have to handicap ourselves. The implicit message to your child when you hold back is: “Winning isn’t everything. You don’t need to dominate all the time. There’s strength in showing compassion on those weaker than you.”
Roughhousing Gets Your Kid Physically Active
Dads have a profound impact on their children’s physical fitness. Studies have shown that the father’s, (not the mother’s), activity level and weight strongly predict what their children’s activity level and weight will be as adults. If you want your kids to be healthy, active, and fit, then you better be healthy, active, and fit yourself.
What better way to teach your kids to live an active lifestyle than by getting down on the carpet with them for some vigorous roughhousing instead of everyone vegging out in front of the TV? All that running, tumbling, and tackling helps develop strength, flexibility, and coordination in your child.
Roughhousing Builds the Father-Child Bond
Some of my best memories of my childhood were when my dad roughhoused with my brother and I. When we were smaller he’d do the obligatory “ride the horsey.” When we got a little bigger we moved to slap fighting, which consisted of my dad dramatically swirling his hands in front of him like you see fighters do in the old kung fu movies and then very lightly smacking our heads with quick open-handed jabs. Slap fights were the best.
You probably have similar memories of roughhousing with your dad. Roughhousing offers dads a chance to physically show their affection to their kids in a fun and playful environment. When father and kids wrestle, there are lots of hugs and kisses scattered in-between pretend sleeper holds.
When you throw your kids up in the air and catch them or swing them upside-down, you’re building your child’s trust in you. As they take part in somewhat risky activities with you, your kids learn that they can trust you to keep them safe.
How to Roughhouse With Your Kids
The beauty of roughhousing is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Roughhousing is just spontaneous, improvised play that’s both rowdy and interactive. Don’t think too much about whether you’re doing it wrong or right. Just have fun.
With that said, the The Art of Roughhousing provides a few guidelines to keep in mind while you’re tossing your kids in the air:
Safety first. While you want to get rough and rowdy with your kids, you don’t want to get too crazy with them. Just be aware of your surroundings and keep your kids away from areas where they can get hurt. Also, keep in mind that a child’s joints are prone to injury when roughhousing. Save the joint locks for when your kids are older and fully developed.
Don’t roughhouse right before bed. But just like adults, kids need some time right before bed to relax and ramp things down so they can get into sleep mode. Unless you want a little night owl joining you on the couch to watch late-night TV, roughhouse earlier in the day.
Roughhousing is for girls, too. While boys are naturally prone to engage in roughhousing, make sure you don’t leave your daughters out of the fun. Studies show that girls who roughhouse with their fathers are more confident than girls who don’t. And some studies even indicate that roughhousing can prevent your little angel from growing up into one of those Queen Bee, Mean Girls that psychologically terrorize other girls.
If you’re looking for specific things to do with your kids while roughhousing, I definitely recommend picking up a copy of The Art of Roughhousing. The book features some great suggestions for roughhousing fun, along with helpful illustrations showing you how to do them. Also, you can visit their website for roughhousing ideas, too.
The original post for this two-part series can be found here: http://artofmanliness.com/2012/02/07/the-importance-of-roughhousing-with-your-kids/
BE A MAN.