Why Do Some Kids Love Aggressive Play and How Can You Respond?

 Hi,

During the Christmas holidays you will have more opportunities to watch your kids play with their siblings, cousins and other young friends. Many parents are concerned about the aggressive play they see in their children, particularly the boys. The question parents have about this play is; Where do you draw the line with boys – when does normal rough boy play become unacceptable violence?  Even when no-one is getting hurt physically, they find the behaviour disturbing.  Why is it that every “L” shaped thing become an imaginary gun and why do they always have pretend weapons to kill each other?

Before we enter the holiday time, I thought this would be a good discussion for today’s newsletter.

Why Do Some Kids Love Aggressive Play and How Can You Respond?

There are many theories about why boys engage in aggressive play, particularly with toy weapons. There are also conflicting beliefs as to whether parents should permit their kids to engage in such play.

Clearly, children learn their behaviour from many sources including the other kids in the playground. So they engage in this play simply because they see it from their playmates. There is also some argument that says that aggressive play comes from either frustration or anger and is a healthy way for children to work through these feelings.

Those who argue in favour of play with weapons, also say that young children who are coping with imaginary fears may find that these toys help them feel safe. And there is the argument that it’s going to happen anyway so why fight it.

I am one of those who argue against allowing kids to play with guns or other weapons. There are many healthier ways to teach kids to handle frustration and anger. If they learn to use weapons in play, how are they developing socially safe and acceptable ways of coping as they mature?

That being said, what can you do? As long as no one in the family is hitting or in any way physically hurting your son, you can make a rule that says, in our home hurting another person is never okay. When other children come over to play and bring toy guns, for example, you can explain that all guns get left at the door and they can claim them when they leave.

Your son will have other opportunities to play with toy weapons or engage in aggressive play in other homes where the rules are different.  In our family, we told the kids they could follow the house rules when they were visiting other children but they were never ever to point a weapon at us. We would not be amused.

In this way, we acknowledged the inevitability of aggressive play but made our beliefs and values crystal clear on the topic. Much as all the people and activities in their lives influence children, we are their primary influence and source of information. When we are clear about our beliefs and follow it up with our non-violent behavior, they learn that there are positive ways to handle anger, fear and frustration.

Don’t present your feelings in an arbitrary way or criticize their friends. Instead simply tell him that you are disturbed when you see him being violent toward other kids because real guns or fighting can hurt people.

If he’s using aggressive play to deal with fears, help him deal with his fears. For example, if he’s afraid of the dark, give him a night-light. If monsters are the problem, search his room before he goes to bed. Some parents have found putting a sign over the door, which says Monster Exit helps.

Young children want to feel powerful, competent and in control of their lives. They are aware of the all the things they can’t do and control and find the idea that they simply have to wait until they get bigger annoying. We can help them to feel competent by giving them real work experiences such as carpentry, cooking or gardening. They will work off energy doing real things like helping build the new fence, preparing dinner or growing the carrots that will become part of dinner.

He will still be aggressive with other kids from time to time.  But he will know that it’s not the best solution and as he matures will move from aggression to positive competencies.

Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments.

I have always known that each child is a unique individual. I looked at my two who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a texbook example of different.

But, now that I have three grandchildren, all the same age the differences from their births has been striking. Just before they were born I was thinking about the two movies about Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and this also caused me to think about the differences of people who live together.

The result is the e-parenting mini guide, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments. Pick it up for yourself and buy as a gift for your friends and relatives. It’s a quick and easy read and responds directly to the different temperaments.  

Bringing Parenting Today to your event. 

Parenting Today is keen to speak as part of your professional development event, parenting workshop or workplace wellness support program. I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters. And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:

P.U.R.E. Parenting.

P — is a parenting plan

U — is unconditional love

R — is respect for your child as he is right now

E — is encouragement

These make up the framework of any resources that will come from Parenting Today. These four pillars are the essential ingredients for raising healthy children who will develop into capable young men and women.

 

 

 

Hi,

 

During the Christmas holidays you will have more opportunities to watch you kids play with their siblings, cousins and other young friends. Many parents are concerned about the aggressive play they see in their children, particularly with boys. The question parents have about this play is; Where do you draw the line with boys – when does normal rough boy play become unacceptable violence?  Even when no-one is getting hurt physically, I find the behaviour disturbing.  Why is it that every “L” shaped thing become an imaginary gun and why do they always have pretend weapons to kill each other?

Before we enter the holiday time, I thought this would be a good discussion for today’s newsletter.

 

Why Do Some Kids Love Aggressive Play and How Can You Respond?

 

There are many theories about why boys engage in aggressive play, particularly with toy weapons. There are also conflicting beliefs as to whether parents should permit their kids to engage in such play.

Clearly, children learn their behavior from many sources including the other kids in the playground. So they engage in this play simply because they see it from their playmates. There is also some argument that says that aggressive play comes from either frustration or anger and is a healthy way for children to work through these feelings.

Those who argue in favour of play with weapons, also say that young children who are coping with imaginary fears may find that these toys help them feel safe. And there is the argument that it’s going to happen anyway so why fight it.

I am one of those who argue against allowing kids to play with guns or other weapons. There are many healthier ways to teach kids to handle frustration and anger. If they learn to use weapons in play, how are they developing socially safe and acceptable ways of coping as they mature?

That being said, what can you do? As long as no one in the family is hitting or in any way physically hurting your son, you can make a rule that says, in our home hurting another person is never okay. When other children come over to play and bring toy guns, for example, you can explain that all guns get left at the door and they can claim them when they leave.

Your son will have other opportunities to play with toy weapons or engage in aggressive play in other homes where the rules are different.  In our family, we told the kids they could follow the house rules when they were visiting other children but they were never ever to point a weapon at us. We would not be amused.

In this way, we acknowledged the inevitability of aggressive play but made our beliefs and values crystal clear on the topic. Much as all the people and activities in their lives influence children, we are their primary influence and source of information. When we are clear about our beliefs and follow it up with our non-violent behavior, they learn that there are positive ways to handle anger, fear and frustration.

Don’t present your feelings in an arbitrary way or criticize their friends.  Instead simply tell him that you are disturbed when you see him being violent toward other kids because real guns or fighting can hurt people.

If he’s using aggressive play to deal with fears, help him deal with his fears. For example, if he’s afraid of the dark, give him a night-light. If monsters are the problem, search his room before he goes to bed. Some parents have found putting a sign over the door, which says Monster Exit helps.

Young children want to feel powerful, competent and in control of their lives. They are aware of the all the things they can’t do and control and find the idea that they simply have to wait until they get bigger annoying. We can help them to feel competent by giving them real work experiences such as carpentry, cooking or gardening. They will work off energy doing real things like helping build the new fence, preparing dinner or growing the carrots that will become part of dinner.

He will still be aggressive with other kids from time to time.  But he will know that it’s not the best solution and as he matures will move from aggression to positive competencies.

 

Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments.

 

I have always known that each child is a unique individual. I looked at my two who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a texbook example of different.

But, now that I have three grandchildren, all the same age the differences from their births has been striking. Just before they were born I was thinking about the two movies about Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and this also caused me to think about the differences of people who live together.

The result is the e-parenting mini guide, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments. < http://tinyurl.com/ojammob

 

Bringing Parenting Today to your event. <http://tinyurl.com/na4o5rr>

 

Parenting Today is keen to speak as part of your professional development event, parenting workshop or workplace wellness support program. I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters. And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:

 

P.U.R.E. Parenting.

 

P — is a parenting plan

U — is unconditional love

R — is respect for your child as he is right now

E — is encouragement

 

These make up the framework of any resources that will come from Parenting Today. These four pillars are the essential ingredients for raising healthy children who will develop into capable young men and women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why Do Some Kids Love Aggressive Play and How Can You Respond?

  1. Linda Hees says:

    Kathy, I completely agree with you about weapon play, though I recognize that this view is probably in the minority.

    In my list of top 50 phrases that I say regularly is: “This is a no-weapon house.” I have said this to my own children as well as visitors. This is our house rule and I have no reservations in stating it for visitors, other wise how will they know? If further clarification is needed I explain that a weapon is anything that can be used to hurt someone. By this definition, any thrown object becomes a weapon, which gives me the opportunity to discuss the details of the situation with the children involved and help them deal with their dispute in a healthy way. It also applies to virtual weapons in fighting type video games. Yes, that means I have to monitor every electronic device in my house, but I should be doing that any way.

    You are correct in saying that any L shaped item can be turned into a gun, so I put the responsibility of deciding weather or not the toy is a weapon onto the children, but I explain that since “This is a no-weapon house”, that if they deem it to be a weapon, then I must remove it, and magically the Legos are just Legos again. Sometimes it opens up a discussion about how guns and knives (and other things) are used to hurt people in real life and we don’t want to practice doing something that we would never do in the real world.

    I find having this house rule gives children an “out” when they don’t want to engage in aggressive play but don’t want to be the one to suggest a change. They can just state the rule and let me take the heat for it. I have witnessed this happen, and no one questioned it.

    Most importantly, I think parents need to feel comfortable being the authority figure, especially in their own homes, and if a certain behavior or style of play makes them uncomfortable, put an end to it. Children, and other parents, expect it. No apologies needed.

Leave a Reply to Linda Hees Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *