The Joy of Horseplay: Why You Should Roughhouse With Your Kids

Roughhousing: the Greek Catapult

I remember the moment in the bookstore when Mike and I first came across “The Art of Roughhousing.”  We quickly flipped through it and laughed.  “Does anyone really need to know this kind of stuff?” I asked.

Actually, they do.  And we did as well.  A generation ago, maybe not.  There’s the image of dad coming home from work, changing clothes, and getting down on the floor with his kids (probably the boys) to wrestle around.  Once I thought about it, though, I realized we never really roughhouse with our kids.  And beyond wrestling, what else is there?

And so “The Art of Roughhousing”, by Anthony DeBenedet, M.D. and Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D, became a useful guide to get us started.  Beyond giving us ideas of what to do, it also explores why rough-and-tumble play is so important to boys and girls of all ages.  The authors make a bold claim: that “active physical play (like roughhousing) makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful.”

Well, I can definitely vouch for the joyful aspect of roughhousing.  We’ve yet to have session of horseplay where all of us haven’t ended up winded and laughing.  So far the “Greek Catapult” is our favorite.  It’s pretty impressive how far you can launch a 5-year-old.

Roughhousing: the Greek Catapult

I’d love to see a roughhousing renaissance!  Our kids are accustomed to being told to calm down, sit still, and be gentle.  I think a general riling up and more pillow fights in our lives could do us all a world of good.  So untuck those shirts, throw around some couch cushions and get rowdy!



  1. I love this book! It’s true, we need to be told! So often we tell the boys, don’t do that, be careful, site down that it’s easy to forget that kids NEED to jump around, fall over dust themselves off and try again. Now, I still tell them to stop jumping on the Sofa but I grab them and flip them over my shoulder for a wrestle:)