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‘The Art of Roughhousing’ May Be Dying

“The Art of Roughhousing”

Picture this: parents and children roll over each other on the floor of a gym and sit in circles taking turns pulling off each other’s socks. Some moves are more serene and others more athletic: flipping, dipping, and tossing.

That’s what happens at roughhousing events sponsored by Boston-based psychologist Dr. Larry Cohen. Cohen, with physician Dr. Anthony DeBenedet, co-authored a new book “The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kids Needs It.”

In the book, the authors make an ambitious argument in an age where parenting has moved from “safety first” to “safety only.” At most playgrounds these days, children calmly play and parents hover, doing their utmost to prevent the next bumped elbow or bruised knee.

“The Art of Roughhousing” is controversial in many circles, and parents are trying to figure out what works for them.

Do you remember roughhousing with your parents as a child? Do you roughhouse with your kids?


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  • http://twitter.com/handiworker Brie Weiler Reynolds

    I LOVED to roughhouse with my parents when I was a kid. As an only child, my parents had to find ways to be more like stand-in siblings and roughhousing was a great bonding experience. My dad was especially good at wrestling, and every now and then my mom would get into the act too. Some of my fondest memories are of me and my parents roughhousing – and no matter the tumbles, flips, pins, and slams, nobody ever got hurt. I don’t have children yet, but I’ve taken to roughhousing with my feisty dog and my husband, and I’ll definitely roughhouse with my future kids!

    • Chris Weiler

      I remember this little girl (Brie). She thought she lived with us. We had to roughhouse her out the door everyday until she was too big to push around anymore. Eventually she kind of grew on us and we let her stay. She was and continues to be the greatest kid any parent could want.

      • Meghna Chakrabarti

        Chris, your post made my day. Hooray for playful, loving parents!

  • Valerie

    My husband roughhouses with my daughter, though not so much anymore now that she’s 12. 

    But I have to say, with all due respect to Dr. Cohen, a book about roughhousing with diagrams?  Give me a break!  Either he’s out to make a buck, or parents nowadays are more scared and helicoptering than I thought!

  • Asdo Narmin

    My boyfriend of 3 years is an only child and was raised playing with his mother and grandmother.  Essentially, NO rough housing.  As a result, he’s a total baby when it comes to any sort of pain and I strongly believe it has effected his pain threshold as an adult.  

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