Rough play is absolutely fine for children to do BUT there must be rules as we don’t want children thinking any sort of rough play is appropriate at any time! It’s most definitely a different type of play and needs to be explained as that.

Rules for rough play and young children

My advice would be to follow these simple rules:

1. Agree a keyword that signals the beginning of rough play so it’s clearly marked out as different to typical play

2. Each person must agree to take part in rough play and their permission must be sought first – if someone doesn’t agree then rough play cannot happen.

3. There must be an agreed word to signal when someone has had enough of rough play and wants to stop. I like the word ‘enough’. The rules are that if anyone in rough play says ‘enough’ then the play must come to an immediate end – regardless of whether the other person still wants to continue playing. Rough play is consensual and so needs everyone agreeing to take part for it to continue.

4. Roleplay with your child the rules of rough play so they can learn to stop when you say ‘enough’


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About The Author

Dr Maryhan Baker
Psychologist & Parenting Coach

Dr. Maryhan Baker is a Psychologist and parenting coach with over 12 years experience. She works with children who have difficulties managing their emotions, worry excessively, have low self confidence, find managing friendships difficult, or get a little overwhelmed with life's challenges. Maryhan also coaches parents who want practical tools to support their children and teens with everyday challenges such as friendships difficulties, managing emotions, sibling rivalry, to name just a few. Her membership site is filled with practical tips for everyday parenting challenges from bedtime to tantrums, for a monthly subscription.

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