Want a great reason to wrestle your kids?
Researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia say that children who engage in rough and tumble play (RTP) with their fathers are more likely to be more emotionally balanced and self regulated.
“Children whose fathers engage in rough and tumble play that was warm and playful are also children with better emotional and behavioural outcomes,” said Dr St George, the study’s lead researcher.
The thinking is that roughhousing (or horseplay, Tomfoolery, good old fashioned wrasslin’, whatever you want to call it) allows children the opportunity to flex their naturally competitive muscles while also learning how to control aggression.
It also teaches them who’s the boss.
“During “quality RTP,” a father is able to communicate a double message to his child: “I love you” (affective component) and “I am stronger than you” (agonistic component),” the study says.
This an interesting finding, to be sure, but one that has us asking the question, “what about the Moms?” What, can’t mothers wrestle with their kids? We know plenty of moms who love a good bit of roughhousing—and they’re obvs way stronger than their kids, so why wouldn’t mom’s rough play be just as valuable?
Science has the answer.
“When mothers’ play and fathers’ play have been compared (in western industrialized countries), fathers’ play has frequently been found to be more physical than mothers’ play and to more often involve rough and tumble play,” the study says.
Basically, it boils down to the way that moms and dads play—fathers tend to be more physical when it comes to roughhousing.
If you need us, we’ll be holding our kids down while we tickle them until they ask us to stop. Because it’s good for their development, and has nothing to do with the fact that they’re driving us totally crazy.