“The Art of Roughhousing” by Anthony T. DeBenedet and Lawrence J. Cohen
Being a parent in these days of hyper-media isn’t easy. Not only do we have to deal with a gazillion internet articles all telling us how we’re doing it wrong, we also have constant access to articles and news about kids getting abducted or injured. I’m sure these things were always happening, but the internet era has brought them all toe the forefront and they’re practically unavoidable. Also, gym classes and recess are being cut from schools as a result of too much standardized testing and budget cuts. All of these things have combined to create a world where kids are being kept indoors, in front of screens, and all of this is leading to kids having less time for physical play. Free, physical play can certainly help stem the tide of childhood obesity, but it also has other mental and emotional/developmental benefits.
Basically – Our Kids need to unplug and play more.
Anthony T. DeBenedet, M.D., and Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., are here to try and help. Their book, “The Art of Roughhousing”, is a friendly instruction manual (of sorts) with true-life case studies, and a ton of suggestions for everything from throwing a pillow fight, to sliding down stairs on a mattress, to simply easy ways to get started if you’re not entirely comfortable with the idea of roughhousing – and many parents aren’t.
Handy diagrams such as the one above give many ideas for getting started. Safety is obviously a concern, as is respecting your kid’s boundaries, and all of these worries are addressed. The idea is to have fun, not stress your kid (or yourself) out.
I’m a convert – and honestly, I’m probably the target market for this book. As the Mom of a rambunctious little boy, I spent a great deal of time convinced my toddler is going to break his head open when he starts jumping on the couch or his bed, but that’s precisely what this book is about – and I think it helped me. Last night, after I finished reading the book, my son and I had a riotous game of “Angry Birds” – throwing the plush characters (Yoda and Princess Leia, if you must know) at each other and through a hula hoop, with occasional mattress-jumping in between.
This would be an awesome baby shower gift for new parents. Combine it with Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods,” and you have a fantastic pair of works to encourage more play/outdoor time.