Go back

Rough and tumble - Fun, or just a risky business?

Posted by TP Toys on 15th December 2014

Rough and tumble - Fun, or just a risky business?

We're especially vocal about the importance of active play here at TP Toys, but we thought we'd try to gauge your thoughts on rough and tumble.

Many parents (dads in particular, it seems) love a little roughhousing with their kids after a long day at work or during weekend days in. But do you think it's harmless fun, or would you frown upon this sort of activity in favour of something less likely to result in injury?

The reason we've been discussing this topic is that it hit the headlines recently after an insurance firm found there are often tears before bedtime when parents and youngsters engage in rough and tumble - and that's just from the fathers.

Some 2,000 people were polled by the company There and it was found that the average dad of school-aged kids sustains 22 injuries a year, eight of which are thanks to vigorous play with their offspring.

The dreaded hit to the crotch faces dads twice a year, while just under a third have been head-butted by their children at some point. Meanwhile, one in five admitted they had been hurt doing something 'I should know better than to attempt at my age'.

Head of member recruitment for There Clive Allison said: "Every father wants to be able to play with their kids and make the most of enjoying those early years before the children quickly grow up. Clearly that comes with a few inevitable knocks and injuries."

However, he added: "Sometimes it's best for fathers to know your limits when it comes to trying to keep up with the children."

Obviously, it is better to be sensible at playtime to reduce unnecessary risk and avoid teaching youngsters habits you wouldn't want them to copy in the outside world.

But perhaps this shouldn't be at the expense of a little roughhousing, especially since research suggests it could have developmental benefits.

For example, author of The Dad Factor Dr Richard Fletcher told Coles Baby and Toddler Club that kids experience a peak of excitement and then a calming down period after rough play, which has been shown to be good for them.

Similarly, they can use the time to learn to control their excitement and other emotions, so they find out how to manage anger and frustration ahead of experiencing real-life situations involving these feelings.

In their book The Art of Roughousing, authors Anthony Debenedet and Larry Cohen even went so far as to say that wrestling "makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful".

Finally, psychologist Anthony Pellegrini discovered as part of his research that the amount of roughhousing children do can predict their grades in the first year of school better than pre-school entry tests. 

So based on all this, the consensus perhaps should be to ensure quiet play is mixed with its rougher counterpart at least once in a while.

But what about those injuries? Well, Dr Fletcher suggested that setting boundaries might be the way to strike a happy balance. For instance, he warned that "if your child suddenly bites, scratches or kicks, stop play, briefly explain why that behaviour isn't allowed and then carry on with your rough and tumble".

Oh - and it's probably best not to start a wrestling match right before bedtime. What do you think, though? Are you fiercely in favour of roughhousing, or do you think it's a waste of time that could be spent reading books or doing something else constructive?

As usual, we'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic - even if they're just to compare stories of the injuries you've sustained!