I have a 4yo DS and our last 6 months or so have really opened my eyes as to child development, aggression, violent play, etc.
I agree with the pp that there is probably a gender component. Most of the girls I know may hit occasionally but are easily redirected, seem to feel empathy for the child they hit, seem motivated to avoid hitting again, etc. Whereas most of the boys I know really, really struggle with not lashing out in some circumstances. This is not an excuse -- and I think it can easily become that, "Boys will be boys," and the aggressive behavior increases because there is an underlying expectation that boys just will be aggressive no matter what. But at the same time, there is a little truth to that, IMO. I think boys require a lot more supervision/direction/discipline to avoid aggressive behaviors. I find parents of girls (who don't have any boys) struggle to really understand this. And as a parent of a boy myself, I've really struggled to accept that gender has anything to do with it. But I really believe it does.
Originally Posted by ilovemygirl
I guess my main question is ... When there are so many other options, why do we almost always choose the violent one? It can certainly be argued that yoga and meditation is just as good, if not better for teaching the positive qualities that martial arts can bring about but I know waaaaaaaaaay more children in martial arts than yoga. Gymnastics and other sports can give children a fun way to use their bodies just as much as sparring and wrestling.
Well, I don't know much about martial arts, but my impression is that it can channel that aggressive energy in a way that is appealing and effective for kids with high energy. I have also heard that martial arts instructors work hard to reduce violence, not condone it. And I agree with rightkindofme, that as someone who has been physically & sexually abused multiple times, I would really, really benefit from learning some self-defense. I suspect it would increase my sense of security, confidence, and ability to protect myself, in a way that yoga simply could not.
Originally Posted by ilovemygirl
I also should have specified that when I was asking about children hitting each other I meant older children, not babies and toddlers. IMO, a cranky one year old swatting someone away and a seven year old whacking another kid out of anger is not the same thing. I'm talking about the kind of parent who insists that a parent hitting a child under any circumstances is wrong but will then turn around and witness a child getting smacked in the face from another kid and says it's not a big deal because kids will be kids. I really don't understand this. I cannot accept any excuse from anyone for hitting a child - or anyone else for that matter. It's just not okay ... ever. Why is it criminal for a parent to hit their kid on the hand (again I don't condone this) but when a child hits another child out of anger or exhaustion or any number of the reasons that the parent hit a child it's somehow okay?
Like a pp mentioned, I question whether this is deemed "OK" or just that perhaps it's not addressed in the way you'd prefer? The thing with GD is that you might not always witness the discipline. Many GD parents won't yell at their kid or put them in time-out for hitting, but instead may address it in less obvious ways. Some will also avoid publicly disciplining their kids because it can be embarrassing or shaming. So just because you aren't seeing an obvious response, that doesn't mean the parent is failing to address the issue.
I don't think it's OK for kids to hit each other. But I also feel it's developmentally normal for kids to lash out when they are angry. Most kids just don't have the emotional maturity to always stay in control. So while it's unacceptable and should be addressed in some way, it also is just part of being around other kids. My DS has gone through a very aggressive stage recently and I have been hit, kicked, bitten, etc. more than I ever expected I would. He has some issues, but I know even kids who are 100% developmentally on track go through stages like this (though hopefully less intense!) It's not so much that getting hit is part of growing up, but it is unfortunately part of being around other kids.
Originally Posted by ilovemygirl
Going back to play ... I'm thinking about this because it's an issue in my life right now. My child is having a very hard time finding playmates that can sustain interest in any kind of play that doesn't include violence. We have had to leave places and even end friendships over this. For example, we had an occasion where a child just would not stop shooting and throwing things at my child. It was clearly upsetting my kid. My child made it very known this was bothersome and when the child wouldn't stop was starting to get scary. The parent actually told us to toughen up our kid and that we should think about teaching our child how to be less sensitive. When I'm living in a world where a child is considered weird for NOT wanting to shoot someone or be shot at, I begin to question why we are putting so much value into violent play.
We have a couple of friends where this is a struggle for us too. Their kids have very violent play themes and aren't very willing to engage in much else... and not coincidentally, they do tend to watch violent movies etc. that aren't necessarily age-appropriate. I suspect for them it is just a way of processing what they've seen. Most of our friends, however, do encourage more peaceful (or at least more varied) play themes. It's too bad you've been having trouble finding families like this! How old is your DD?
One thing that I think is important to remember is that AP does not always equal GD. I kind of assume that everyone who is AP is GD but I've discovered that I'm wrong! And also that GD means something different to some people.
Anyway... we do not allow violent toys, but we do allow DS to play in ways that are violent. So in other words, he is allowed to turn a stick into a pretend gun, but he is not allowed to have actual toy guns or weapons. And he isn't allowed to shoot me (or anyone else who doesn't agree to be shot). We are still working on our rules around this. For DS it is definitely a way of processing the violent play he's been exposed to through playdates, as well as accidentally witnessing one or two violent scenes (like, he doesn't watch violent TV but once he was watching a documentary about lions and one of the lions was euthanized -- shot right there, with no warning, I couldn't stop the show fast enough! It was really upsetting to him and one way he dealt with it was by pretending to shoot animals). DS is in therapy and in play therapy violent play is considered a valid & effective way of dealing with strong emotions & serious issues -- provided there are certain constraints around it so that it does not hurt anyone etc. I've been reading up on this since it is on the forefront for us right now, and many (most?) experts agree that some types of violent play are part of healthy childhood development! I'm still trying to totally wrap my head around it. DS's play therapist had a list of toys required for our home therapy sessions and one was toy soldiers. I tried to buy some but just couldn't bring myself to do it! I've settled for items that are more abstract instead (waldorf-style wooden dolls who could be turned into soldiers if he so desired), and I'm more comfortable with that.Edited by crunchy_mommy - 1/16/13 at 3:44pm