The Art of Roughhousing (w Dr. Lawrence Cohen)



Roughhousing can teach boys about healthy touch.

red head boy wrestling w dad
Photo by SnarkleMotion via Flickr

Society teaches boys that there are two kinds of “acceptable” touch for males: sex, and aggression. No wonder so many boys and men turn to sex and aggression to meet their very human need for touch!

Physical play — including play wrestling, “chase” games and roughhousing — give boys multiple opportunities to experience healthy touch while learning about boundaries and consent. “Roughhousing is really more like dancing than fighting,” Dr. Cohen says. “It can look like fighting, but the participants have to be really tuned in to each other.”

Building in frequent stops and starts can prevent physical play from getting out of control, Dr. Cohen says. Make it fun: “Freeze!” “OK, go!”

Not sure if the kids are having fun or legitimately trying to hurt one another? Ask. A question that’s not asked nearly enough, Dr. Cohen says, is “Are you enjoying this?” Also: tears don’t necessarily mean the session was a disaster or ill-advised. “Tears are fine as long as there’s comforting and a pause and connection,” Dr. Cohen says. “If it’s tears and then humiliation, it’s the humiliation that’s the problem, not the tears.”

In this episode, Jen, Janet & Lawrence discuss:
  • The importance of healthy touch
  • Difference between fighting & roughhousing
  • Why moms should roughhouse with their boys
  • The “sock game”
  • Ground rules: yay or nay?
  • How to keep roughhousing from getting out of control
  • When to intervene in rough play

NOTE: The sound quality on this episode is still less-than-ideal. Jen was experiencing technical difficulties. The good news is that those episodes are now resolved. ūüôā¬†

Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

The Art of Roughhousing: Good, Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It, by Dr. Lawrence Cohen & Dr. Anthony T. DeBenedet

Playful Parenting: An Exciting New Approach to Raising Children that Will Help You Nurture Close Connections, Solve Behavior Problems and Encourage Confidence, by Dr. Lawrence Cohen

PlayfulParenting.com¬†‚ÄĒ Lawrence‚Äôs website

6 Reasons Why You Should Roughhouse with Your Kids – the article that led us to Dr. Cohen

Rough and Tumble Games to Play with Boys This Summer — BuildingBoys blog post

Sexual Abuse Affects Boys Too — our first ON BOYS conversation w Dr. Cohen

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