The Importance of Roughhousing With Your Kids [VIDEO]

by Brett on May 3, 2013 · 40 Comments

in Fatherhood, Relationships & Family, Visual Guides

About a year ago, I wrote a post on why you should roughhouse with your kid. I thought it would make for a good video, so here it is. Watch and learn the six ways roughhousing makes your kids awesome as well as Gus McKay’s favorite roughhousing moves.

(If you’re an email subscriber, watch the video here.)

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark May 3, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Love this. My wife and I are expecting our first child around Christmas. I am undergoing spinal surgery next week, and I pray I’m ready to roughhouse when that little tyke gets big enough. My dad used to wrestle with me all the time and I grew up healthy and fit. Great post!

2 2pint May 3, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Completely agree. Even more fun when you add three or four to the mix. Then the match becomes a tag team event. We always go until someone gets hurt, but very cautious nothing is serious. By then we have usually had enough. Having three girls and boy, gender doesn’t matter. Neither does age.

3 Greg May 3, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Well done! The horsey-ride into an upside monkey roll onto her back is what I practice on my 2 1/2 year old daughter daily. She loves it. I love this video!

4 im May 4, 2013 at 3:41 am

98% agreement here – two words of caution, one serious, one not quite so serious:
Be careful with the bucking and rearing when literally horsing around. I took my back out and couldn’t walk for a week when I overdid that with my little nephew (but the little bugger will probably grow up to be near on 7-foot, so I should have expected the weight…)
More seriously: We had some acquaintances whose kid was having serious attention issues. For them, it was the easy solution to just keep up a constant chasing and running round in circles (with no other interaction or quiet time) – the effect being that their little one learnt virtually nothing else, cannot concentrate on anything, and never learnt when to stop. Now they are crying “Asperger’s”, when it’s probably just a lack of mental-physical (and social) stimulation in balance. Mixing activities up is key.

5 Eriknorcal May 4, 2013 at 5:01 am

However, there are limits. One of my dad’s favorites was to hold me down and rub his stubbly chin against my chest. As I got older and began to understand forms of child abuse, I felt this was definitely abusive because he would do this in spite of my screams and unfeigned requests to desist. You should always gauge roughhousing to what a kid can accept happily. This is not a time to belittle a kid and call him a sissy if he does not like or appreciate the kind of play you think he should enjoy.

6 Remy Sheppard May 4, 2013 at 7:22 am

lol I’m sure a few people will have a problem with this. “OMG WHAT IF HE GETS HURT!?”

Keep up the awesome, man. This was a good video.

7 Korey May 4, 2013 at 8:14 am

Awesome post Brett. My kid is 17 now and taller than me, so the wrestling moves don’t work quite as well anymore, but that doesn’t keep me from trying. I never gave it a whole lot of thought, buy my boy and me always loved our rough and tumble time when he was younger, and we have a great relationship now. It may have been more important to him than I ever gave credit for.

8 Jody May 4, 2013 at 9:12 am

I have two sons now, and they both love to climb all over daddy. I love it, too. It is amazing what just some play wrestling can do to make you feel closer to your child. Nothing beats watching them launch into a fit of giggles.

9 franktc May 4, 2013 at 10:26 am

Rumble-Fumble was a game of keep-away I ‘invented’ for my three kids. They all took turns being tickled to death! I would also ‘invent’ new punches (tickling) I would use against them; Tomahawk Punch, Machine Gun Punch and the one ‘most-feared’ – Snake Punch! Scrunch you hand together to form a snakehead–and use your wrist and arm to sway back & forth; looking for an opening to attack! What fun those few years were!!

10 Alvin Grimes May 4, 2013 at 10:47 am

Wow. My dad necer roughhoused with me, so I had to teach myself those lessons. However, I made it a point to do it with my sons and daughter. Over the years I became a martial artist and made it a poin to train side by side with my boys. It was very interesting because we sweated and bled together. They saw me win, they saw me lose. But they never saw me quit. They’ve turned inot fine men. I’m a lil long in the tooth to train with my daughter ( my wife made me do it, I had no choice) but she’s always in the dojo and I rassle and spar with her all of the time…She’s gettin good…Stopped a backfist an inch away from the old man’s nose the other day…How embarassin…

11 Colin J May 4, 2013 at 11:57 am

Great job, Brett. The toddler years are my favorite because of stuff like this. The kids can finally play a little rough without too much worry. My son’s favorites: the headlock, standing straight up on my shoulders, and the boxing match.

12 Troy May 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I roughhoused with all three of my kids as they were growing up. They each liked different styles & levels of roughhousing; as a result, I have a broader repertoire of moves than ‘Nature’ Boy Rick Flair.

Roughhousing was GREAT bonding time for everybody (except Mom). My 15 year old daughter still attacks me at least three times a week. The problem is that now she knows all of my moves.

Keep up the manly work!

13 Mike May 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

I like your dad-stache.

14 Carl Monster May 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Never occurred to roughhouse with my kids because they were girls and didn’t do that sort of thing. I also thought I was too late, they being 15 and 11.
Well, today I tried a little tickle torture roughhousing with them and got quite a wallop from both of them! They were rough! I plan on letting myself get whomped by them on a regular basis; it was fun!

15 Alex May 5, 2013 at 9:42 am

My dad was never too much into rough housing most likely because his own immigrant father was very rough , mean rough.

I still got to hang off his huge arms and do a lot of physical activities but play fighting was not on the list.

16 Rks1157 May 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I only get to see my son once a year and next week is that one time for this year.

I’ll suggest we do some rough housing during our visit but it won’t be pretty. He’s six-four and out weighs me by forty pounds!

17 Philip May 5, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Excellent video. 100% right. Roughousing is an essential part of my fathering skills.

And 2Pint as a father of four, also one boy and three girls, I know exactly what you are talking about. It always goes until someone gets hurt, but never anything serious. I think the accidental bumped head or bruised knee builds character: it usually requires an apology and forgiveness.

18 BA May 6, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Father of four. girl-boy-girl-boy. The third one, girl, is the roughest by far. She wants a piece of everyone any chance she can get! Growing up it was, “take that outside, you’re going to break my couch,” from my mom. Now my wife says things that are similar! Love every match I ever had with my dad, and I’m going to enjoy a beat down from my four tonight! Thank you Brett.

19 Arthur Hovey May 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Thanks Brett, for sharing the excellent video. My father roughhoused with me. As you stated, it teaches a sense of trust and builds skills at the same time. YOU are a manly father.

20 Steve C May 7, 2013 at 7:36 am

Gus sure has gotten big! Great video. My dad roughhoused with me and my brothers, and I did the same with my three kids when they were little. Rough housing is one of many unique contributions fathers give to their children.

21 Steve May 8, 2013 at 8:38 am

I’ll echo what’s said here. Roughbousing is great! My 11-mo daughter loves being gently tossed on the bed and dumped over on her back to squirm around, get back up, and get knocked over again, haha!
But I’ll add (and I’m sure the author will agree)… for your child to get the full benefit of the social development, you need to be done when the child is done. I, along with too many others, was forced to continue this kind of play as a child long after I had grown weary of it and was screaming to please stop. It quickly became obvious that these 6 points of development were not my parents’ goal. They were just having fun and ignoring the fact that their child wasn’t. (AKA bullying). Remember, parents, this is for the child’s benefit and enjoyment, not yours.

22 april roush May 8, 2013 at 10:02 am

Sharing with preschool teachers and parents!
Neurological development in the age 1-6 span should involve lots of free physical play that has safe boundaries.
I agree wholeheartedly with the philosophy of roughhousing, and encourage my kids to climb trees and skin knees.
Have a great day! Great, succinct video modeling!
a. r., School Psychologist

23 Gary May 8, 2013 at 11:00 am

Yes..really important and good fun to roughhouse with kids. My dad never did it (super cautious) and I make sure I do with my kids but also try to ensure I stop when they want to!

24 Claude May 8, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Dad was out of the picture so my rough housing came from older brothers. So it was probably a little rougher than what dads do.

I believe that rough housing is the reason bullies could never hurt me. They might have technically won the fight, but I didn’t back down and never cried.

25 Rodrigo M. May 9, 2013 at 2:25 pm

God bless you two!
I have my Gus here too (Augusto) and we are always playing kung-aiki-capoeira-do with some limits and lots of affection.
Cheers from Brazil!

26 Ben May 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Great video! My sons are 7 and 9 now but I did lots of rough housing with them when they were little. Once they got too strong to take on both at once we used to have a big “post wrestle cuddle” to signal that the turn was over and it was the other ones turn now.

27 Scott May 14, 2013 at 7:45 am

My wife and I are expecting in about 6 weeks. My dad roughhoused with me and my brothers, and I can’t wait to pass that on to my kid(s).

28 Dana May 15, 2013 at 9:02 pm

My son, Joseph, is 2 and a little change. We rough house all the time. He craves it and instigates it – chasing and being chased. I make sure and let him win sometimes, too.

29 Tim May 23, 2013 at 12:56 am

Cant wait to stone cold stunner my kids hopefully one day ;) in a sensible way of course

30 Zach F. May 24, 2013 at 4:56 am

My dad and I always did this when I was young. He even bought a pair of kids boxing gloves and we’d go at it when I was about 7 or 8. Good times were had all around. Ahhh, memories.

31 Mike May 27, 2013 at 10:38 am

Great video! This is one of the basic social tools between dads and kids. Excellent.

32 Dick E May 30, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I did all these exercises with my 4 boys when they were young. Everyone enjoyed the roughhousing! I usually exhausted before they did. Now, when I visit with one of my boys and his own children, I am very pleased to see the same kind of roughhousing with his kids, even though they are little girls. The first moments in the door after work are the roughhousing with the girls. These kinds of activities are learned and passed on generation to generation.

33 Dan June 3, 2013 at 9:56 pm

I have 3 kids, and my boys rough house better than my daughter, she wants to be involved, but is afraid getting hurt. The boys on the other hand, my wife has always been afraid that I would break them…but the one thing I can say for sure is that my kids trust that I will toss them up in the air and catch them every time….Highest kid toss was about 18 feet off ground, great pic of 2 year old flying…..Great Site….

34 Vince June 14, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Great article. Just saw this in The Atlantic,, and the first point the article makes is “The Power of Play.” This is right in line with the positive qualities that result from a father roughhousing with his child(ren). Thanks again.

35 Jamie June 16, 2013 at 3:02 pm

My dad used to do this with me and me and my friends have always known him as the fun dad. It creates a fun atmosphere for physical confrontations so you don’t shy away from them when your older. It also just makes one better at fighting – I’ve always been good. It also just made me do Karate, Judo and Kickfighting (mma) which I still do now. Dads if you want your son/daughter to love and respect you do this!

36 J Osburn June 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm

The one rule we had with our children, and now with our grandchildren, is that if someone says ‘stop’, then you stop immediately. My brother and sisters use to hold me down and tickle me until I cried. Not fun.

37 JC August 24, 2013 at 2:37 am

Baby Bench Press!

38 Johnny November 12, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Can’t thank you enough for both the incite and the memories. My uncle always used to rough house with me and it always ended with me feeling exhausted as he was only a few years older than me. As I look back at some of the dynamics of what your article pointed out I can only agree whole heatedly. I have sent this to my son in law and plan to implement this with my grand kids soon.

39 dale Ure November 24, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Excellent suggestion-thank you: Looking back, my boys and I were were continually wrestling and horsing around.
I raised 8 boys who all grew up to be very healthy, smart, moral citizens. Additionally:
recent research also shows healthy sexual development is agmented in this kind of roughhousing. Individuals with confused sexual identiy most often have had little or none of this kind of non-arousal male touching especially with their fathers. My boys are comfortable with who they are and enjoy being men.

40 Jackie January 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Thank you for this! It brought back great memories. I loved wrestling around with my Dad and Mom, it was a fantastic bonding experience. As I got older I started martial arts training with my mom, and WOW could she give me a good wallop! After that my Dad did remove himself a bit from our drop-down drag out brawls haha. It’s a great lesson in learning how to control movement and not (seriously) cause injury during play. Now I enjoy doing the same with my nephews and nieces. Rough housing is a great outlet for a family!

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