the art of roughhousing

" i don't think it is too much to say that play can save your life. it certainly has salvaged mine. life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing the things necessary for survival. play is the stick that stirs the drink. it is the basis of all art, games, books, sports, movies, fashion, fun, and wonder - in short, the basis of what we think as civilization. play is the essence of life. it is what makes life lively." - stuart brown in play

roughhousing: wrestling, pillow fights, jumping off beds, sliding down stairs, you know it when you see it. but what is roughhousing all about, and what does it mean for us & our kids? i may be spoiling the surprise but, i got steve a book for father's day called 'the art of roughhousing: good old-fashioned horseplay and why every kid needs it' by: DeBenedet & Cohen. i took a little flip through last night and got drawn in. the authors bolding claim that play - especially active physical play, like roughhousing - makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful. roughhousing exercises both the body & the brain, from the amygdalae, which processes emotions, and the cerebellum, which handles complex motor skills, to the prefrontal cortex, which makes high level judgements. roughhousing is not only beneficial for the body and brain but also the loftiest levels of the human spirit: honor, integrity, morality, kindness, and cooperation. roughhousing has a host of benefits for adults too! getting off the couch & roughhousing has been linked to preventing Alzheimer's & promoting overall emotional and physical health by reducing stress & providing a healthy outlet. active physical play is the best way for parents and children to build a strong, close, lasting bond... especially dads as roughhousing may start as a primarily physical activity but stretches into less familiar territory like feelings, closeness & intimacy. being silly without being self-conscience is good for just about anybody and a great cure for the grumpies. it awakens the imagination and implores wild creativity. it pushes us out of our inhibitions & inflexibilities, releases tension, spontaneity, improvisation, and joy. it's just down right fun.

sadly, the motto of safety first has evolved into safety only (which i think is just a misunderstanding of safety). many parents let the fear of skinned knees & bruised feelings overtake the real dangers of stifled creativity & listless apathy. cuts & bruises are just a part of a healthy childhood. you limit hurts as much as possible but when they happen take them on an opportunity to teach or learn. some parents worry roughhousing gives kids ADHD. not so! it is now being used as a treatment for attention deficit. the fear that roughhousing makes kids wild, aggressive, and impulsive - and always escalates to chaos and anarchy is not so. boundaries & limits are imperative! t.v. & video games are partly to blame to. kids spend much more time in front of a screen then they do outside. and when kids aren't staring at a screen, they are being overscheduled, overprotected, and underadventured. after working as a teacher in the school system, the no touch rule brings more problems than benefits in my experience. there are even schools that have as so far as to not have playgrounds. and that is the sad state of roughhousing... or is it a challenge? what could be more exciting than setting the record straight and giving the art of play a shot of adrenaline?

so if you're up for it, check out this incredible resource and find out what vaquero, pilobolus, alaric the barbarian, sasuke & fataleufu matress rafting all have in common... a whole lotta fun!
(*the art of roughhousing by: anthony t. debenedet & lawrence j. cohen)

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