Rough- and-Tumble Play: Bad or Good

Have you ever been in a neighborhood where you see all the children on the street playing together, but then it seems not so friendly? Well, that is rough and tumble play; wrestling/ play fighting. It may be difficult to tell when it is real fighting or fake fighting at first glance, but there are signs to know if it’s real or not.

The biggest sign about whether it’s playful or not would be the child’s facial expressions. You will see excitement if its playful and anger/crying if it’s not. Playful fighting, no one gets bullied or gets forced to do anything and they take turns, I tackle you here and then you tackle me back, while we both scream and laugh.

I know many people, especially parents, are nervous about this type of play. It is difficult to tell if it is friendly or not and the children involved could potentially get hurt. Also, if a parent allows rough and tumble play at home and the childcare center does not allow this type of play, the child may have a difficulty knowing when they can play rough vs when they cannot.

Even though there are many concerns, rough and tumble play can be beneficial.

  • Physical Benefits: Increased large muscle strength, increased balance, and increased endurance
  • Problem Solving skills increased
  • Social Skill Benefits: Increase in emotional judgement, increase in body language skills, and increase in language skills
  • Emotional Benefits: Increase in self-regulation and increase in understanding of own emotions and others

“Rough-and-Tumble Play: a Guide.” Raising Children Network, 24 June 2019,

“What Is Rough & Tumble Play?” Explore & Develop, 27 Sept. 2019,

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