Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Art of Roughhousing

Physical activity or the lack of physical activity in children is a foremost concern in our current society. Immediately, we think of childhood obesity and early-onset metabolic syndromes, like hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Though, lack of physical activity, especially unstructured play and roughhousing can also negatively impact the cognitive, social, and psychological development in children.

I came across The Art of Roughhousing the other day and read through most of it. I was particularly interested in the role of play and roughhousing on the developmental psychology in children. The authors, Anthony DeBenedet and Lawrence Cohen not only do a good job of covering the why, but also spend the majority the chapters showing how to roughhouse...just in case we have have become such an over-protective, sheltered society that we can't figure that out for ourselves. Here are a few quotes that I like from the book:

"Many parents are more frightened by skinned knees and bruised feelings than life's real dangers: stifled creativity and listless apathy" (p12)

"Children's play-time is now dominated by adult-organized, adult-refereed, and adult-structured activities." (p13)

"Play-especially active physical play, like roughhousing- makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful." (p14)

More tag, fort-building, creek-wading, and tree-climbing, and less soccer practice, ipods, playgroups, and sitting in the car is what kids need. Additionally, parents need to provide a good chunk of this play and roughhousing. When your kids are at the playground, get out the car, put down the phone and jump into a game of freeze tag. I believe we need unstructured play and roughhousing our whole lives, not just as kids. The most cognitively-advanced mammals play and roughhouse all the time. Ironically for humans, the most cognitively-advanced mammal, we are so far removed from unstructured play and roughhousing that we need a book to tell us how. Sad.


Larry said...

Hi Dan, thanks for letting people know about The Art of Roughhousing, and I'm glad you liked it! Sounds like we're on the same wavelength about all the benefits of this kind of play--for children and adults. We are collecting people's home-grown roughhousing moves and ideas on
Yours truly, Larry Cohen, co-author of The Art of Roughhousing.

Dan Hubbard, M.Ed. said...

Thanks for commenting, Larry! I do agree with your philosophy. As a father of a seven and an eight year-old, I enjoy roughhousing and see its importance. Additionally, as a trainer, I come across so many adults who need more roughhousing! I will be sure to send people your way with more ideas for roughhousing. The kids and I enjoy playing scooter tag (they chase me on their Razor scooters, while I run away) in the tennis court.

Jo said...

oh gosh I so agree Dan. I don't know how much I officially "rough-housed" with the girls when they were young...but I think quite a bit. I even did with other neighbor kids, and they LOVED it. Always came back for more. Even just kicking a ball and seeing who can get to it first...simple things that generate laughter as well. Thanks for posting this. I will need to be in tip top shape when one day I have grandchildren!