Should Fighting Be Incorporated Into a Child’s Game? Do you give your children the chance to learn to fight? Should a fair fight have a place in an upbringing of a child?
In every man’s hearth, there are three wishes: to undergo a battle, to experience and adventure and to save a beautiful woman. And that may be true for boys as well. Do we give our children the chance to fight? Should an honest battle be a part of raising a child?
Many children enter their peer group with a preconceived notion (brought from their families) that they shouldn’t be weak and they should establish their position in a group, even if they have to use force. Other children are told that they shouldn’t fight, that everything can be settled by communicating or by backing off and every little sign of physical aggression in these children is suppressed by their parents.
Which path should we choose?
Aggression cannot be excluded from a child’s life we shouldn’t try to suppress it. Especially, the younger the child is the more likely he is to try to settle his disputes physically (remember: aggression is not only expressed by boys, girls can be aggressive as well). Of course, it’s important to show our children alternative ways to solve problems. But is it right to control and suppress children’s aggression as much as possible?
Don’t run at school. Don’t fight anyone at school. Don’t push your brother…. But when do children ever hear: let’s go scream, lets pillow fight or wrestle? Children, especially boys need these kinds of games. Kids get a chance to physically express themselves if they attend judo, karate or other physical sport classes, where physical contact with other children is a part of the activity. But what about other kids? School age children usually spend most of their time sitting down at their desks, at afterschool activities or at home in front of the TV. Home games are usually reduced to doing puzzles or other “brain activities”, so that our kids don’t break something or make too much noise.
If a child needs to get out his energy, computer games or plastic soldiers are used. And so slowly but surely, their bodies and aggression are suppressed to a minimum.
Aggressive behavior is a part of life
Aggression is a challenge and we should approach the natural aggression of children creatively. An over-organized time (organized and controlled by adults), passive fun, not enough time and space for simple games are all reasons why many children don’t challenge their bodies. Yes, we cuddle our babies, we tickle them, throw them in the air; but the older the kids are the less physical their games are. But all children need physical contact during games. Children should learn that stroking has different effects than a firm grip. They should learn to distinguish positive and negative effects of a contact with another person. Children are often not able to use their muscle strength reasonably. And so, instead of a friendly poke, a painful hit comes when a child wants to be friends with other children.
If the body disappears from a child’s upbringing, then the child never learns that he should have respect the physical inviolability of others.
Don’t be afraid to fight!
Not that long ago, all children needed in order to play was a ball, a rubber or a few sticks. But most of all, their bodies. Hide-and-go-seek, chasing and all the variations of these games were all they needed for a fun afternoon. Kids today have so much toys, so much technology and over organized activities that the only times they feel their body is if they sit in front of the computer for too long. But physical games can teach a child a lot – mostly to respect his body and control it. The aim of these physical games is to create a fair fight and not hurt anyone. These games should have clear rules that are agreed on in advance. Also, make up a sign that anyone can make if he wants to terminate the game; or perhaps the fight. Yes, a fight. That is one the games that’s disappearing. A fight that we parents are sometimes so afraid of and try to prevent. Of course I am not encouraging the stronger one attacking the weaker one or fighting our way using force. What I mean is a friendly battle that happens between friends in order to compare their strengths, or just for fun between fathers and sons.
We usually deal with our child being in a fight, starting a fight or being the victim of the fight after it happens – in the park or at school. But did we teach our children, that physical fighting can be a part of a game and not a medium of communication? In an Internet discussion, one mother asked what she should do with her son who fights at school? And what was that anonymous answer? “Do you have a father or a grandfather? Boys just fight. They always had to protect their tribe. It’s good when their father fights with them and teaches them what the boundaries are – that everyone involved has to enjoy it, no one should be in pain and that some parts of the body are taboo. Of course it would be ideal, if all fathers did this.”
Battling while following rules
A thirty-year-old Martin thought of a great idea for his son Ondra. “I have a new game. We will fight over the princess. And who else is a princess her, then your mother!” Ondra ran to his mother and started hitting her with his little fists. “No!” said dad, “we will not be fighting with the princess, but over the princess – me and you, Ondra. Whoever wins, get a kiss from mom. She will not be looking, instead she will be reading in the other room.” Martin then explained to his three-year-old what is allowed and what not during this fight. Little Ondra agreed to the terms and wanted to play. At first he won of course – his dad held back. But the next day, dad won. And then the third day as well. And then, Ondra won. Mom gave kisses to each winner as promised. Dad was proud that he made up this game, and Ondra was proud that he could fight according to the rules as a good knight.
I personally like the idea of “mom is not looking”. Because honestly, what mother can handle watching their son getting beat?
Surely, a boy’s fight can end with “Stop it – your hurting him.”. Because our desire to protect our property is very strong! But what about men’s desires? As John Eldredge puts it in his book: “In the heart of all men, there are three desires: to undergo a battle, to experience an adventure and to save a beautiful woman.” I wish to all fathers that they can fight with their sons for princesses, and to experience an adventure full of love that way. This is one way to successfully handle children’s aggression. And I’m sure many dads will enjoy such a game.