Thursday, April 03, 2008

Why Do Boys Like to Play Rough and Why It Might Be Good For Them

I usually don't allow my son to rough house with others. I am always afraid that it will change quickly to something ugly and don't want to see that happen obviously.

Tonight we went out to watch a friend play soccer and my son and a little boy that he doesn't see often but as of late has seen a few times decided to rough house in the dirt. It took everything for me not to be that crazy mom, who shouts at her kid to stop every two minutes.

The boys were smiling and laughing. No one looked upset at anytime in the hour they were together and the mom of the boy he was pushing and throwing dirt at (yup that kind of play), told me to look away and that they were fine. She said, kids need at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted play and that if there was a problem they would tell us.

I was itching to stop them so many times but let it go. Eventually they stopped on their own and my son talked about him a few times after we left.

Tonight I looked up boys and rough play to see what the experts are saying and found this from the University of Pittsburgh Ofce of Child Development.

Basically it says:
Although this type of play may sometimes appear to be seri-ous, you can usually tell if they are really ghting. Playing children usually smile. Children in a real ght usually wear an angry or mean face

Rough play for children this age is not unusual. They are just beginning to realize they have physical power and strength.

Rough play has a purpose, Preschoolers like physical activity and usually want toplay rough sometimes. This is natural and not all bad.

Rough play helps children explore and understand their developing physical strength.

Rough play provides an outlet for active children, especially young boys. Children usually become less active as they mature. Children like to feel control over their bodies.

Rough plays lets them feel more power and control over their surroundings.nChildren see and experience a lot of aggression around them. Rough play, if under control, can help them enact and gure out aggression in a safe setting.

Rough play can be an outlet for children to express feelings of anger and excitement that they may have trouble expressing verbally.

It also goes on to say:

Children don’t understand that rough play also has limitsBecause they don’t yet know their own physical strengths, children can easily push rough play too far and lose control.Young children also don’t understand that someone can get hurt when play gets too rough.Teach your child what are dangerous behaviors. Your child needs to learn that certain activities can hurt people.

Use the word “dangerous” to describe things that your child should not do. For example, if your child wants to jump on your stomach when you are lying down, say, “No jumping on me, please. It is dangerous.”

Teach safe rough-and-tumble play by playing with your child yourself. Rough play with your child gives you a chance to set some safety rules that will guide your child when he or she plays rough-and-tumble with others.

I think these are all good ideas and I might even loosen a little of his rope on rough play but only if the other kid is up for it, the same size and weight, not his sister.


  1. I read your blog & found this particular question very interesting because yours is the only find of someone backing up rough play with limitations & rules to be discussed.

    Usually with children who have been diagnosed as being hyperactive or autistic, I'd think maybe you wouldn't want rough play. This is making me reconsider old options to think that in particular situations it can be used to advantage even in children with various types disabilities. I'm a school social worker - and generally we've been taught to discourage play in particular circumstance. Thank you for a very informative page.

  2. Anonymous1:14 AM

    This is wonderful!!! I'm an early childhood teacher with 12 boys and 4 girls ratio; lots of complaints about boys and their ways. I have two boys of my own and have always considered rough play as a normal part of their development. Its amazing the perception that boys should like dolls and want play housekeeping as girls do! I plan to use this information in a parent teacher night thankyou for posting it you are a god send


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