Book Review: The Art of Roughhousing

As I’m testing out this new site, I’m importing toddler-related reviews I’ve already written for Amazon. Here’s one for a book called The Art of Roughhousing.

Anthony DeBenedet and Lawrence J. Cohen. The Art  of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kind Needs It. Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2010. 192 pages.

Parents get mixed messages about physicality and child-rearing. On one hand, they remember running around, pushing, and just plain having fun as kids. On the other, there’s an endless list of cautionary tales about everything that can go wrong if kids are taught to play too roughly, from severe (and not so severe) injuries to themselves to fears that they’ll hurt other kids, either physically or emotionally.

Yet physical play is important to developing children, and in The Art of Roughhousing the authors make a strong case for encouraging horseplay. The book is divided into seven chapters that follow a warning label and prefaces from each author. Yes, there is a warning label that reminds parents to be responsible. Which is important.

The first chapter marshals medical and academic literature touting the beneficial effects of physical play (and the potential deleterious effects of denying it to your child. With the theoretical base secured, the second chapter offers a practical introduction, with guidance on how to initiate and structure physical play and how to deal with the inevitable boo boos. It also gives a few introductory exercises. The next five chapters feature short introductory notes for a specific kind of roughhousing (“Flight,” “Games,” “Contact” are a few) and illustrated descriptions of exercises that one (or two, if a spotter is needed) parent can do with a child. Each exercise has a suggested age range, difficulty level, and essential skill that the exercise reinforces.

Even though the authors refer to what they’re advocating as “roughhousing,” it’s actually much more sophisticated than running around the pool hitting each other with floaties. They provide a detailed list of exercises that resemble those “taught” in play classes given by Gymboree and MyGym as well as anecdotal narrative support for their effectiveness.

Overall, it’s a fun book that may give you some ideas on how to have more fun playing with your kids. It will help you and them have a better time and may aid in their development. Sounds like a win-win to me. Recommended for parents looking to spice up their playtimes.

This entry was posted in book reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Add a Facebook Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *