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

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

Category: Home and Family
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A very interesting book about the benefits of rough play with children, packed with practical examples for children of all ages.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: April 2011
Publisher: Quirk Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1594744877

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Rather than running around outdoors, going for bike rides and building dens, lots of children nowadays end up spending hours watching TV or playing computer games. Play times in school are often very regimented and in some schools certain games like 'British Bulldog' and 'Leapfrog' and even 'Tag' have even been banned. Children are discouraged from physical play, for fear that they will hurt themselves and also through the fear that those responsible for them will find themselves facing a lawsuit if someone does get hurt. This book aims to support the thinking that very physical play is good for children; that unless they face risks in their lives and learn to assess those risks, or experience a few bumps and bruises and learn to get up and carry on, then they will lack vital life skills for their future adult lives.

The book discusses how physical, rough and tumble play can increase confidence, solve behavioural issues as well as increasing the emotional bond between children and their parents, especially perhaps for some fathers who find it easy to express themselves physically rather than verbally. As well as more academic discussion about roughhousing the book also has lots of practical examples of games that you can play with children of all ages from babies through to teenagers. There are pictures to illustrate, age limitations, difficulty levels and skills required, as well as a written description of what to do. For example, one game is called 'Crane' and is based on a move in Shaolin Kung Fu which involves your child sitting on your foot and you swinging them into the air then helping them land back down on the ground safely. Another called 'Empire Bluff' sees you flip your child upside down, lift them up then place them facing backwards onto your shoulder.

I did think at times that they were perhaps over-emphasising the benefits of rough play. It seemed a little as if the only way to have a well-balanced child was to follow their ideas about rough play. However, I do agree with them that physical play is very important and for a variety of reasons, not just to keep children fit and active. Some of my favourite childhood memories involve playing with my dad; one game involved balancing on his knees which he would sway backwards and forwards before inevitably tipping me off at some point; another, when I was little, saw me walking up his front and then somersaulting over backwards! I have since heard horror stories amongst mothers of how that last particular game can lead to broken wrists and dislocated joints, over which I normally smile and feel sorry for their children who are obviously missing out on that particular game! My daughter loves being chased and thrown and tickled and tumbled around, so I think roughhousing is something we've been doing anyway without knowing there was a name for it. It's fun to have lots of new ideas for games to play from the book, and my husband is looking forward to trying out some of the more adventurous moves once our daughter is old enough.

There were a few games suggested that felt very American, or at least aimed at families living in huge houses with lots of spare mattresses and pillows that you don't mind wrecking - for example, one game suggested racing a mattress down your staircase! My husband would have a fit if he caught my daughter and I playing that particular game with her mattress on our open-tread, bannister-lacking stairs, I'm sure you need an enormous staircase to do that one properly...Although thinking back, there was one particularly raucous sleepover I had at my friend's house when her parents were away and we all ended up racing each other down the stairs in our sleeping bags!

If you're already the kind of parent who doesn't allow their children past the lowest point on the climbing wall in the park, and spend your time saying 'no, you can't walk along next door's wall' then this probably isn't the book for you! You need to be reasonably confident and comfortable with the idea of phycial play in which someone may, if they're not careful, get hurt. For a lot of the games the adult involved needs to be quite strong, and I did feel that the focus at times was more for dads playing with their kids, using mums just as helpers to avoid any accidents, unless you're a particularly strong mum, or feel your knees can cope with crawling around on all fours in a race with your child! If you're willing to give it a go, however, there are lots of good ideas here, for all ages, and it's a very interesting and thought-provoking read. Make sure you play safely, and have lots of fun!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: For more parenting advice you might like to try How Not To F*** Them Up by Oliver James or It's Not Fair! Parenting the Bright and Challenging Child by Gill Hines and Alison Baverstock.

Buy The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It by Anthony T DeBenedet and Lawrence Cohen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It by Anthony T DeBenedet and Lawrence Cohen at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It by Anthony T DeBenedet and Lawrence Cohen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It by Anthony T DeBenedet and Lawrence Cohen at Amazon.com.


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