Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review: The Art of Roughhousing

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

Modern life is rather sedentary. Kids are more likely to sit in front of big screens or down with little screens for unhealthy lengths of time. They spend their free time typing or swiping or just watching. This is one way for kids to play, but is it the best way?

Drs. Anthony DeBenedet and Lawrence Cohen present the case for a more dynamic and physically interactive way of playing in The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It. Their claim is "Play--especially active physical play, like roughhousing--makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likeable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful." [p. 13] They discuss each benefit in their first chapter, supporting their thesis in a credible way.

Most of the book is given over to suggestions of ways to roughhouse with children. The chapters are divided into various styles of play, including flight, games, and contact. Each chapter has six to ten possible activities. For example, the flight chapter includes the human cannonball (launching the child onto a mattress), the sleeping bat (hanging upside down), and the Flying Fox (acting as a human zip line). Basic skills are reviewed, ages are recommended, and safety tips provided. The chapters are quite entertaining to read and fun to experiment with (if you have access to kids!).

The book puts forth a convincing argument for roughhousing and provides great examples of how to roughhouse safely and joyfully.

SAMPLE QUOTE--on the problems of violence and sexual aggressiveness in school:
...when out-of-control violence--or out-of-control affection--is the problem, elimination of all physical contact is not the solution. The solution is more physical contact, as long as it's positive and mutually enjoyable. Healthy touch is also the antidote to the media's constant emphasis on sex and aggression as the dominant forms of physical contact. Roughhousing sends an alternate message: There are countless ways to be physically close and connected. The world of healthy touch is about friendship, camaraderie, nurturing, and fun--not sex or violence. [p. 100]

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