The Benefits of Roughhousing


Toddlers—and older kids— love the active, physical play that is roughhousing—especially when it involves Mom or Dad. You may wonder if it sets your little one up for out-of-control behavior or injuries.

Actually, it sets you both up for a stronger relationship.

Research has shown that roughhousing results in the release of neurotransmitters called endorphins—chemicals in the brain that make you feel good.

And when the play is done, you often end up hugging or snuggling with your toddler as the body releases what some call the “cuddle chemical,” oxytocin.

In other words, occasional roughhousing—done in a safe, age-appropriate way—is a wonderful activity that strengthens your relationship with your toddler. It can also teach coordination, self-control, empathy for others and confidence.

Find terrific ideas for roughhousing, teaching kids how to rev up and then calm down, and safety tips in the book The Art of Roughhousing, by Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D., and Anthony DeBenedet, M.D., (Quirk Books, 2001).

See also ...

Roughhousing – a Ted Talk with Anthony DeBenedet, M.D., co-author of The Art of Roughhousing

Fun ways to play with your toddler

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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