Go Ahead and Play Rough Dad

My kids start panting like dogs as the clock ticks closer to the minute my husband gets home.  It’s almost as if the air changes and I’m just waiting for a wolf cub to start howling as the Jeep pulls up the long driveway. Once the front door opens, it is as if the hounds have been released.  I cannot stop them if I wanted to -and let’s be real, I already poured a glass of wine. This is just sheer pleasure for me. There isn’t even time for John to drop his work bag and take off his shoes before the begging begins: “Daddy, let’s wrestle!” “Pillow FIGHT!” “Sharks and Minnows!” “Daddy!Daddy!Daddy! PLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!” All of this is happening as a 6,4, and 2 year old are climbing him like some sort of carnival act. I KNOW John is not in the mood to flip kids around by their feet.  He has been at work for over 12 hours and is exhausted – and probably needs to get more work done before he can sleep tonight.  However, he typically caves and (un)enthusiastically drags children to the biggest rug in the house and throws-down with them.  After about 3 minutes though, he is having as much fun as the kids.  (And I love how he laughs at me as he hands them all back over so I can handle bedtime.)   We have long been a family that supports roughhousing play with Dad – with no one else but Dad.  They cannot fight with one another or wrestle out an argument, but they are allowed to be wildly physical with their father.  I completely support moms who jump in there, but I like leaving this area up to John. Our house is not different than the masses.  I’m sure that you can relate.  But did you know just how important and beneficial this ‘roughhousing’ is for our toddlers and young kids?  Turns out it is amazing for the whole family. File May 21, 1 50 14 PM   Mom loves to see dad playing with kids – so she is happy.   Dad is distracted from the burden of work and life, and he is caught up in the moment of play time – so he is happy (and remember how Mom is happy? That makes Dad happy too.).  I’d even venture to say that rough-and-tumble play helps keep dad young. But the kids?  Well, guess just how great this play is for them: Roughhousing Teaches Boundaries and Respect With Dad being in charge, physical games and ‘rough play’ became a great platform to learn how to respect others and when to see and set boundaries.  Of course, safety is always the top priority, and ensuring that the game doesn’t have any true injury possibilities is the responsibility of Dad.  But having a safe way to teach how to respect boundaries is important.  Our youngest little ones will be able to understand right from wrong and how to respect others from toddlerhood.  A lesson that will last throughout every relationship he or she ever makes. “Children who have the opportunity to engage with risks in a secure setting with minimal hazards and appropriate supervision learn lessons that will serve them in good stead when they encounter risks in the “real” world.” Mariana Brussoni, an assistant professor in the Dept. of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia. Roughhousing Builds Intelligence According to The Art of Roughhousing by Anthony DeBenedet, rough-play increases intelligence in children. Studies show that bouts of rough-an-tumble play increase the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) released in the child’s brain.  BDNF is linked to the growth of the parts of the brain that handle higher-learning and logic skills. Roughhousing Makes Kids Kinder You read that right.  Wrestling, play fighting, and (gently, I say as the mother) body slamming your toddler on the bed regularly may actually make him (or her) a kinder person.  Studies actually show that rough-and-tumble play creates children who can empathize and feel more towards others. Roughhousing Makes Kids Healthier Simply put, roughhousing is a physical activity.  It will help build stamina and a love for being physically active.  It also keeps technology at bay, which we know is linked to being overweight and idle. Roughhousing Builds Memories This is what the kids will remember.  They may even be some of their earliest memories.  The excitement that rushes over a child when they know it’s time to play is something that will stick with them, and hopefully pass on to their own children one day.

So Roughhouse Away Dads!

(Or Moms)

The takeaway: It’s time to play with your young kids.  Sons and daughters benefit, and all should be included. Remember that respect is a two-way street, and you need to give it as much as you want it given to you.  You are guiding your children through this play, and while it is ‘all fun and games’ it is also so much more.    References: http://theartofroughhousing.com/ http://news.ubc.ca/2014/06/10/kids-benefit-from-rough-and-tumble-play-with-dads/ http://www.parentingscience.com/benefits-of-play.html http://www.workingmother.com/health-safety/how-important-roughhousing-your-kid
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