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play fighting

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
This is an issue which has come up with my 6 year old son at the park recently. (I should mention that he is the only other child his age at the park with any supervision, so talking to the other kids parents is not an option) It seems that play fighting is the favorite game of most of the 6 year old boys in our neighborhood. We don't allow play fighting in the house, but I'm not sure if I should step in and stop it at the park as well. Part of my dilemma lies in the fact that my son has a neurological condition which makes appropriate social interration difficult for him, so we are really working on him being acepted by the neighborhood kids. We homeschool, and he does well with the other homeschoolers, but I also want him to be able to fit in with the neighborhood children. I don't liek the ides of him play fighting, but I think it may be good for him learning physical boundaries as he tends to get out of line in this way. While I can control what my child does, I can't control the other children and I do not want to make him excluded from playing with them. What do you think?
post #2 of 3
Play fighting is one of the favorite games of the almost every young boy (and many girls) that I have met. Don't confuse it with real fighting. It is play, and the object is NOT to kill or hurt each other. This kind of play is not about being violent, it is about a host of other positive things being learned, including physical coordination, how to make physical contact without hurting someone, and how to control your physical and emotional impulses.

If you watch you may notice that almost all of these games are morality plays dealing with very heavy issues-good vs evil, the powerful and the powerless, life & death, compassion vs. retribution, etc. If you participate with them in this play, you will be able to help them explore these areas by introducing themes and morals that illustrate your own moral beliefs. This is morally, physically and psychologically very useful play, and I would encourage you to help your son explore these things.

In my experience, the kids that are dangerous and most likely to hurt someone are those that are not allowed to play this way at home. They don't have the experience to know how to play in this way without inadvertantly hurting someone. They don't have the physical or emotional control neccesary to handle the excitement!

So until you have had ample chance to help your child learn these kinds of controls by play fighting with him in the safer environment of your home, I would keep a close watch on his interaction with other more experienced players. Once he is comfortable with this kind of play, he should be able to have a lot of fun without getting hurt or hurting others, and learn a lot in the process.

Probably not what you wanted to hear, since I assume from your post that you have some kind of strong objection to play fighting

I do strongly feel that you are handicapping your son by not allowing him to explore these things with the people (his family) who can best make sure he learns them without getting hurt or hurting anyone else. And, you are missing a great opportunity to role play with him (and teach him your understandings) about all these very real and deep issues that center around life/death, good/evil and the many varieties of human conflict.
post #3 of 3
I'm really not a big fan of play fighting, but I strongly feel that if you're going to do it there should be a fair amount of agreed to rules around it. Helping the kids decide together what the rules are can make them more acceptable. My brother did organized wrestling from a very young age and I think it is good groundrules.
As kids we were allowed to "wrestle" but not fight. No hitting, no kicking, no body slams, no weapons etc. Also if your son is exposed to TV and WWF its important to let him know that this is not real wrestling.
If there are no other rules, the one that would be absolutely undebatable for me and that I would step in with others children also is that Stop means stop.
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