Confused about the violent play - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 6 Old 05-08-2006, 06:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been having a tough time dealing with all the violence in my dds' play (12 yo & 8 yo). They play act things & everything is about a horse getting hurt or attacking (my 12 yo absolutely loves horses & its her idea to have the "story" go this way). Or they'll play-act being a vet or doctor or king/queen --everything is someone getting hurt or needing to be dominated or even death. I can't stand this kind of play when the emphasis is about pain/hurt/domination, etc. There are just so many stories to do that don't have to deal with those topics so heavily. I've given so many lectures and have played diff parts to show them how to do a story differently.

Some background: we watch very little t.v. (just PBS for the kids and usually just Zoom show); they don't play computer games; they listen to their own cds which are Amy Grant or Jump 5 (2 Christian singer/group). We homeschool. As for my 12 & 8 yo's relationship, they're like the odd-couple (one is neat, the other a messie; one is loud, the other is quiet, etc)...I've come to wonder if this is some "covert" way to getting out their aggressions with one another in a "playful" way & if so, is there a better way? They do play board games, but my 8yo dd has a learning disability, so she doesn't always get many of the board games.

I guess I don't know where this is all coming from. Does anyone else deal with this or am I just being too sensitive? I just don't want them thinking that if it's okay to play act, it must be okay. *I* think there's too much violence in this world, so I'm very bothered by seeing it in my kids's actions.
How do you deal with it?
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#2 of 6 Old 05-09-2006, 03:19 PM
 
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You should read Playful Parenting by Laurence Cohen. It's a fantastic book and he talks about why kids need to play in this way. The basic idea is that everbody has violent thoughts and feels anger, and other negative emotions. Kids are very confused by these thoughts and feelings, especially when they have a parent or other authority figure in their life telling them these thoughts and feelings are wrong.

Playing helps a child process these thoughts and deal with them in a harmless way. There has been much written about this topic. I actually believe that the more a parent represses that kind of play in a child, the more a child will be fascinated by it and drawn to it.

So, my advice to you would be to read the above mentioned book and lighten up a little. I don't mean that in a harsh way, but in a constructive way.

I was one of those people who really believed all that stuff I learned in Psych 101 that if you never exposed a kid to violence he would grow up petting kittens and chasing butterflies for fun - lol. Now, I know that reality is that kids feel anger. They are confused by violence and violent thoughts. They need to play to try to make sense of these things. There is nothing wrong with boys playing swords or kids playing that one of their imaginary characters dies or gets wounded in a battle, etc.

Maybe it disturbs and upsetts your dd to think that horses actually die and get hurt irl. So, she plays to try to process it.

Even in the natural world, kids are exposed to violence. We actually saw a larger bird kill and eat a smaller bird in our yard last summer. Very distrubing. But, I could not shield my oldest from it. It was loud and unavoidable. So, try as we might, kids are exposed to things that we would rather they not see. And, your kids are 8 and 12, which, unless they live in a bubble, they have seen, read and heard some violent things.

What I do in my house is let my sons play out their emotions any way they want, as long as no one gets hurt. If they ask me to join in, in order for me to get across to them that I believe that peace is the way to go irl, I just say 'sorry, but I don't like to play with swords" or whatever that specific play is about. I sometimes also say I am a pacifist. Anyway, the point is to say that YOU don't like to play that way, but not pass judgement on them for doing it. So, unless they are asking for suggestions, I would just let them play it out how they want to without trying to "teach" them alternative scenarios. If you do that their play becomes about you and your emotions and not theirs.

Good luck!
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#3 of 6 Old 05-09-2006, 05:27 PM
 
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: I totaly agree!

I never understood why, but when I was a kid (~7-12) my favorite thing to play with friends was some sort of dramatic... well... drama! I played car accident victim, horrible injury and hospital stay, even giving birth. All complete with many "painful" shots. I had several friends who also loved these role playing games. I didn't understand why this was the prefered play at the time, but later realized that it was pretty much all because of everyting Twocoolboys mentioned (I'll have to read that book now too, thansk!). I was homeschooled too and pretty much only watched PBS also, and I think this kind of play is a really good outlet.

~Kelsie
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#4 of 6 Old 05-10-2006, 09:19 AM
 
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Very well put, Twocoolboys.
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#5 of 6 Old 05-10-2006, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Twocoolboys, Thank you so much for the book suggestion. I will look into that. You are absolutely right about everything and I REALLY appreciate the constructive tone to your suggestions. I actually had my kids read the response too, and they thought you were right on So, Thank you, thank you, thank you. I guess I let MY imagination get the best of me with worrying too much!

Soygurl, thanks for the laugh-- it helped me to see the kind of play that is usual & normal.
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#6 of 6 Old 05-10-2006, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Twocoolboys, Thank you so much for the book suggestion. I will look into that. You are absolutely right about everything and I REALLY appreciate the constructive tone to your suggestions. I actually had my kids read the response too, and they thought you were right on So, Thank you, thank you, thank you. I guess I let MY imagination get the best of me with worrying too much!

Soygurl, thanks for the laugh-- it helped me to see the kind of play that is usual & normal.
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