There are kids out there that seek out rough play because it feels good to them. Examples would be crashing to the ground, wrestling, running into friends/adults, and/or just doing many things throughout the day with a greater amount of force. To register touch input they often seek it out in a way that seems to us like it may hurt. They have a higher pain tolerance and are more likely to cry from a scratch that they can see, than a bruise from crashing to the ground onto their knees. What follows is some ideas that you can have on hand to provide them with some deeper input to decrease them seeking it out throughout the day.
Lycra Tunnel: This is basically lycra material sewed into a tunnel (it does have some stretch to it). Have the kids crawl through on hands and knees while you hold one end. It’s going to give them resistance as they go through. For increased resistance have them push a therapy ball through that fits in the tunnel with them.
Therapy ball: You can bounce or roll your child on top of the ball. You can also roll it on top of them and pretend your rolling them out like dough. You can ask them if you are doing it hard enough. Kids will typically want a good amount of pressure if they are input seekers.
Mini Trampoline or Pile of Pillows/Crash Pad: A mini trampoline if you have access to one can be beneficial in giving lots of heavy input to feet and bodies. If you don’t have this, setting up a pile of pillows, couch cushions, or things that are soft in general can work as well. You can allow your kids a safe place to run and crash so that they are not doing it on the ground or into walls or friends. You can also make a crash pad out of high density foam pieces and a comforter cover!
Heavy Blanket: Have them crawl underneath and all the way through and playing a game with it (ex. bring all of the puzzle pieces through). You can also roll them up like a burrito, depending on their tolerance for this, but it does give a good amount of input if you roll them tighter. If they like to move, you can have them transition the blanket from place to place and carry toys in it as well to add some weight.
Household Chores: Have the kids help with heavy carrying or moving. Let them know the laundry basket is too heavy and you need their help in moving it. Pushing the vacuum can be another good one, as well as pushing/moving furniture.
You are replacing your child’s ‘crash’ seeking behaviors with more purposeful and safe activities throughout their day. Teaching them safe ways to get the input they need will hopefully cut back on the amount they are seeking through peers or when not in ideal situations. You can teach them to ask for some of these activities to replace the other unsafe behaviors as well so that they become more independent with accessing these tools. Trying to decrease this behavior all together would be difficult for both the child and yourself since it’s something they feel their body needs. Instead, giving them options to increase their safety, but still access the input they seek, will in the end benefit both of you.