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The Art of Roughhousing
Cover of The Art of Roughhousing
The Art of Roughhousing
Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It
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Everywhere you look, physical play--what some might call "roughhousing"--is being marginalized. Gym classes are getting shorter. Recess periods are being eliminated. Some new schools don't even have playgrounds. Is it any wonder children retreat to "virtual horseplay" via video games?

But Drs. Anthony T. DeBenedet and Lawrence J. Cohen are here to shake things up--literally! With The Art of Roughhousing, they show how rough-and-tumble play can nurture close connections, solve behavior problems, boost confidence, and more. Drawing inspiration from gymnastics, martial arts, ballet, traditional sports, and even animal behavior, the authors present dozens of illustrated activities for children and parents to enjoy together--everything from the "Sumo Dead Lift" to the "Rogue Dumbo." These delightful games are fun, free, and contain many surprising health benefits for parents. So put down those electronic games and get ready to rumble!

Everywhere you look, physical play--what some might call "roughhousing"--is being marginalized. Gym classes are getting shorter. Recess periods are being eliminated. Some new schools don't even have playgrounds. Is it any wonder children retreat to "virtual horseplay" via video games?

But Drs. Anthony T. DeBenedet and Lawrence J. Cohen are here to shake things up--literally! With The Art of Roughhousing, they show how rough-and-tumble play can nurture close connections, solve behavior problems, boost confidence, and more. Drawing inspiration from gymnastics, martial arts, ballet, traditional sports, and even animal behavior, the authors present dozens of illustrated activities for children and parents to enjoy together--everything from the "Sumo Dead Lift" to the "Rogue Dumbo." These delightful games are fun, free, and contain many surprising health benefits for parents. So put down those electronic games and get ready to rumble!

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Excerpts-
  • From the book CHAPTER 1

    Our Bold Claim for Roughhousing

    "It is difficult to capture ... real-life play in
    words. But the overall impression given by
    practically all mammals is a flurry of dynamic,
    carefree rambunctiousness."
    —Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D., in Affective Neuroscience

    You know roughhousing when you see it: wrestling, pillow fights, jumping off beds, sliding down stairs. In this book, we give you a lot of roughhousing activities, but first we'd like to
    explore the philosophy behind all the horseplay. What is roughhousing all about, and what does it mean for you and your children?

    Roughhousing is play that flows with spontaneity, improvisation, and joy. It is free
    from worries about how we look or how much time is passing. It is physical, and it promotes physical fitness, release of tension, and wellbeing. Roughhousing is interactive so it builds close connections between children and parents, especially as we get down on the floor and join them in their world of exuberance and imagination. Most important, roughhousing is rowdy, but not dangerous. With safety in mind, roughhousing releases the creative life force within each person, pushing us out of our inhibitions and inflexibilities.

    Rowdy, physical, interactive play is by far the most common type of play in the animal
    kingdom. It occurs in every species of mammal and in many nonmammalian species as well. We've all seen videos of lion cubs wrestling, but you'd be amazed by the vast number of species that enjoy rowdy play—elephants, whales, even ants.

    The first person to explore the science of roughhousing was Harry Harlow, who observed
    young rhesus monkeys in his animal psychology lab at the University of Wisconsin during the 1950s and '60s. Harlow noticed that the monkeys often practiced what he described as "rough-and tumble play." He was working during a time when many scientists did not consider play to be a viable subject for serious research, but Harlow went ahead and documented this play-fighting in great detail. He observed that the monkeys often
    displayed a so-called play face—an open-mouth, teeth-bared expression—which looks fierce to humans but to other monkeys actually says, "Let's play."

    Since Harlow, observers of human behavior have discovered that we are remarkably similar to rhesus monkeys when engaging in rough-and tumble play. Human children have their own play face, accompanied by smiles and laughter, to signal that roughhousing is play and not aggression. And, just like monkeys, roughhousing children will run, chase, jump, flee, wrestle, fall over, and play-fight. Playful hitting uses an open hand (as opposed to a fist) and much less force. The roles of the aggressor and the victim are fluid. In rough-and-tumble play, children—like young monkeys—will take turns being the chaser and the one being chased, the pinner and the one being pinned.
About the Author-
  • Anthony T. DeBenedet, M.D., is a board-certified physician in internal medicine and an incredibly active and adventurous father. An avid athlete, he enjoys basketball, running, hiking, and golf. He lives with his wife and three young daughters in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Lawrence J. Cohen, PH.D., is a licensed psychologist specializing in children's play and play therapy. His book Playful Parenting is in its eleventh printing. His writing has also appeared in theBoston Globe, professional journals, and a host of national parenting magazines. He lives with his wife and two teenage children in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Reviews-
  • Michael Thompson, co-author of the national best seller Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys "An inspired defense of roughhousing! I guarantee that if you read just a few pages of this book, you'll be down on the floor wrestling and laughing with your children."
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    Quirk Books
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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The Art of Roughhousing
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Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It
Anthony T. DeBenedet, M.D
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