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Let's Get Rowdy: Benefits of Rough and Tumble Play

Let's Get Rowdy: Benefits of Rough and Tumble Play

With Father’s Day around the corner, we’ve been thinking about the wonderful world of rough and tumble play!

You know the kind—the wrestling matches on the living room floor, the piggyback rides that turn into rodeo adventures, and the tickle fights that end in fits of laughter. If you're a dad, you've probably engaged in this kind of play with your kids. And if you're a mom, you've maybe watched from the sidelines with a mix of amusement and mild concern. But did you know this kind of play is more than just fun and games? It's actually super important for your child's development. So whether you enjoy a round of rowdy play or watch from the sidelines, let's learn more about why rough and tumble play between parents and their children is beneficial.

Building Physical Skills

    Coordination and Strength

    Rough and tumble play is a fantastic way for kids to develop their physical skills. When children wrestle or play balancing games with their parents or a sibling, they're not just having a good time; they're also working on their coordination and strength. These activities require kids to use their muscles in new ways, helping them develop motor skills that are essential for other physical activities like sports.

    Balance and Agility

    Playing rough also helps kids improve their balance and agility. Dodging a playful tackle or trying to escape from a gentle hold requires quick reflexes and the ability to move their bodies efficiently. This kind of play can enhance a child's ability to navigate through the world with confidence and ease.

    Enhancing Emotional Development


      Understanding Boundaries

      One of the primary emotional benefits of rough and tumble play is learning about boundaries. During these play sessions, children discover how far they can go without hurting someone or getting hurt themselves. They learn to read social cues and understand when it's time to stop, a valuable skill in all areas of life.

      Building Trust

      When parents engage in rough play with their kids, they're building a foundation of trust. Kids learn that their dads or moms will play with them in a fun and safe way. This trust can strengthen the parent-child bond and create a secure base for children to explore the world.

      Managing Emotions

      Rough play can also help kids manage their emotions. It gives them a safe space to express feelings like excitement, frustration, and even aggression in a controlled environment. Learning to navigate these emotions through play can help children develop better emotional regulation skills.

      Fostering Cognitive Development

        Problem-Solving Skills

        Believe it or not, rough and tumble play can boost your child's cognitive development. When kids engage in this kind of play, they often encounter situations that require problem-solving skills. Figuring out how to escape from a hold or strategizing how to tackle someone bigger involves critical thinking and planning.

        Creativity and Imagination

        Rough play can also stimulate a child's creativity and imagination. Turning a simple game of tag into an elaborate adventure or imagining that the living room is a jungle filled with wild animals encourages kids to think outside the box. This imaginative play is essential for cognitive development and can lead to improved creativity in other areas of life.

        Social Skills and Peer Relationships


          Learning to Share and Take Turns

          Rough and tumble play is an excellent way for kids to learn critical social skills. During these play sessions, children often have to share, take turns, and negotiate rules. These experiences help kids develop the social skills they need to interact successfully with their peers.

          Understanding Social Cues

          Playing with a parent or older sibling can also help kids understand social cues. They learn to recognize when someone is having fun and when they might be getting too rough. This ability to read social cues can help kids navigate social interactions more effectively and build better relationships with others.

          Building Resilience

            Handling Defeat and Frustration

            Rough and tumble play can teach kids about resilience. Sometimes, they'll lose a wrestling match or get tagged "it" in a game of chase. These experiences can help children learn to handle defeat and frustration in a healthy way. They discover that it's okay to lose and that the important thing is to keep trying and have fun.

            Developing a Growth Mindset

            Engaging in physical play with Dad can also promote a growth mindset. When kids encounter challenges during play and learn to overcome them, they see that effort and persistence can lead to improvement. This mindset can be incredibly valuable in all areas of life, from academics to personal relationships.

            Strengthening the Parent-Child Bond

              Quality Time Together

              One of the most apparent benefits of rough and tumble play is the quality time it provides for parents and their children. In today's busy world, finding time to connect can be challenging. However, a simple game of roughhousing can create meaningful moments of connection that strengthen the parent-child bond.

              Creating Lasting Memories

              These play sessions often result in lasting memories that both parents and kids will cherish. Whether it's a game of backyard football, baseball, soccer, or a silly wrestling match, these moments of joy and connection can become treasured memories that kids carry into adulthood.

              Promoting Healthy Risk-Taking

                Encouraging Exploration

                Rough and tumble play encourages kids to take healthy risks. When children engage in physical play with their parent, they push their limits in a safe environment. This can help them develop a sense of confidence and a willingness to explore new things.

                Understanding Consequences

                Through this type of play, kids also learn about consequences. They discover that certain actions can lead to specific outcomes, which helps them understand cause and effect. This knowledge is crucial for making informed decisions and understanding the impact of their actions.

                Combating Screen Time

                  Physical Activity vs. Screen Time

                  In a time when screens dominate children's lives, rough-and-tumble play offers a much-needed break from technology. It gets kids moving and engaging in physical activity, essential for their health and well-being.

                  Encouraging Active Play

                  Parents can encourage their kids to choose active play over sedentary activities by prioritizing physical play. This can help instill a love of being active that lasts a lifetime, promoting a healthier lifestyle overall.

                  Enhancing Communication Skills

                    Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

                    Rough and tumble play can also enhance a child's communication skills. During these play sessions, children learn to communicate both verbally and nonverbally. They might shout out excitedly or use body language to signal when they've had enough. These experiences can help kids become more effective communicators.

                    Expressing Needs and Wants

                    Through rough play, kids also learn to express their needs and wants. If they feel uncomfortable or need a break, they have to communicate that to their dad. This ability to express themselves can be beneficial in all areas of life, from school to friendships.

                    Cultural and Gender Role Understanding

                      Challenging Stereotypes

                      Rough and tumble play can challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes. It shows that physical play isn't just for boys, that dads can be nurturing and playful, or that moms can be rowdy and fun. This can help kids develop a more inclusive understanding of gender roles and relationships.

                      Learning from Dad's Example

                      Children often learn by example, and when dads, or moms, engage in rough play, they show their kids that it's okay to be physical and playful. This can encourage boys and girls to feel comfortable with physical activity and embrace their playful side.

                      Rough and tumble play between parents and their children is much more than a way to pass the time. It's a crucial aspect of a child's development that can enhance physical, emotional, cognitive, and social skills. It builds trust, fosters resilience, and strengthens the father-child bond. Rough and tumble play offers a refreshing and vital alternative when screens and sedentary activities are increasingly prevalent. So, dads and moms, keep wrestling, chasing, and playing with your kids. Not only are you creating fun memories, but you're also helping your children grow into well-rounded, confident, and resilient individuals. Next time you see a wrestling match break out in the living room, remember that it's all part of the beautiful process of growing up.

                      Check out our Outdoor Toys Collection for additional fun ways to be active with your kids!



                      Flanders, J. L., Leo, V., Paquette, D., Pihl, R. O., & Séguin, J. R. (2009). Rough-and-tumble play and the regulation of aggression: an observational study of father-child play dyads. Aggressive behavior35(4), 285–295.

                      Freeman, E. E., & Robinson, E. L. (2022). The Relationship between Father-Child Rough-and-Tumble Play and Children's Working Memory. Children (Basel, Switzerland), 9(7), 962.

                      Jarvis, Pam. (2006). 'Rough and Tumble' Play: Lessons in Life. Evolutionary Psychology. 4. 10.1177/147470490600400128.

                      Stgeorge, J., & Freeman, E. (2017). MEASUREMENT OF FATHER-CHILD ROUGH-AND-TUMBLE PLAY AND ITS RELATIONS TO CHILD BEHAVIOR. Infant mental health journal, 38(6), 709–725.


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