Do The Girls Rough House Too?

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Ask Melinda is a Playvolution HQ column offering thoughtful answers to family child care questions written by Melinda Marshall.

Your questions, comments, and answers are welcome in the comment section at the end of the post.

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This week’s question:

I know you allow roughhousing in your program. Do the girls roughhouse too?  Can the boys roughhouse with girls?

Stella

Yes. And yes.

A few of the girls have recently begun a new game called “Huggies”. They run up to each other and ask “Huggie?” and as they wrap their arms around each other, they fall down to the ground. While the boys tend to want to wrestle and roughhouse without much of a “theme” needed, they’ve joined the girls in this game.

Giving both girls and boys equal opportunity and exposure to rough and tumble play is critical for their development physically, but also socially and emotionally as well. Rough housing gives children the opportunity firsthand to learn about power, control, boundaries, and consent. All children should be freely allowed to learn these skills. The benefits of rough and tumble play should not be gendered.

Learning physical boundaries begins with reinforcing the idea that no means no and that children are not allowed to touch another person without permission.

When one child asks another if they can give a “huggie” and the other child says NO, BOTH children are learning vital social cues. The asker is learning about consent, respecting the choices of others, and self-regulation while the child who has said no is learning how to speak up, to stand up for themselves, and their right to body autonomy.

It can be difficult at times to watch this sort of roughhousing when it happens to be boy/girl. When boys roughhouse with girls, it is simply children playing. It is not done out of anger or malicious intent. I think the key thing to remember is that we sometimes look at innocent children’s play through our own adult filters and personal life experiences.

When you give children the opportunity to learn that they have the power of choice when it comes to their own bodies, they learn to listen to their intuition, and will know that they are in control of their own boundaries. What better way to reinforce these skills than through rough and tumble PLAY.

Here are links to Playvolution HQ rough and tumble play resources:

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Owner at Mountaintop Family Child Care

Melinda lives in Upstate New York and is owner of her home based program, Mountaintop Family Childcare.

She has been a family child care provider for over 18 years and worked with children for over 27 years. Her program offers relationship based care that includes many aspects of farm life and nature/forest school with PLAY at the center of all they do. She firmly believes in slowing down childhood and allowing children to develop at their own pace.

Melinda believes family childcare programs offer unique settings that have much to offer to the early learning world. She strongly supports family providers in keeping a home like atmosphere in their programs. Backed by research, she continuously advocates for children's right to play.

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