From the “What would we do without ‘experts’?” file…experts are telling parents that it’s time to stop hovering and learn how to rassle with your kids.
“Play looks a lot different than it did 30 years ago,” says Dr. Anthony DeBenedet, who co-wrote “The Art of Roughhousing: Good, Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It” with Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD. “I think it’s time for us to kind of cut the strings a little bit. Let kids go—and play with them.”
“We want to get a throwback to the good stuff,” he adds. “The good stuff is play. And the holy grail is roughhousing.”
Roughhousing does more than keep kids physically active. “There are clear signs showing that it helps kids’ academic success, it’s associated with being more flexible behaviorally, being better able to deal with unpredictability,” DeBenedet says. “Play—especially active physical play, like roughhousing—makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful,” they write in their book.
Roughhousing seems to be the the human version of parent-cub play we see in the wild. It’s another method of building connections and properly socializing the next generation. It also teaches junior not to mess with senior, while senior still has the upper hand and junior isn’t yet the teenager who eats everything in sight and hasn’t yet discovered the true depths of his Hulk-like strength. Parents of previous generations would find all of this so obvious they wouldn’t bother consulting a so-called expert. But some of today’s parents have to go to workshops to learn how to pillow fight? You know, that complicated activity where you pick up a pillow and swing it at the nearest person’s head. That there is actually such a thing as the Art of Roughhousing school is a heart breaker. Though it does figure that it’s in New York.