“Don’t Stop Kids from Playing Rough”: Virginia Postrel

“Don’t Stop Kids from Playing Rough”: Virginia Postrel October 10, 2015


…Some kids are indeed prone to hurt others. “If you’ve ever watched a group of 4- or 5-year-olds play Duck, Duck, Goose,” says Carlson, “there’s always one child who, when it’s his turn or her turn, will not tag. They’ll slap.” Socially and developmentally behind their peers, the offending children are those who most need the lessons big-body play can teach. Keeping them from playing tag, says Carlson, “is not the way they learn how to tag more gently. Continuing to tag is the way they learn to tag more gently.” Good teachers will coach rather than punish kids who play rough. That may sometimes mean physically standing in for playmates to show a child when a tag is too hard or a wrestling grip too tight.

The law in Carlson’s home state of Georgia prohibits such good pedagogy, at least in child care centers. (School districts set their own policies.) It dictates that “staff shall not engage in, or allow children or other adults to engage in, activities that could be detrimental to a child’s health or well-being, such as, but not limited to, horse play, rough play, wrestling.” This provision assumes ill effects contradicted by psychological research. And it often puts Carlson in the peculiar position of giving training seminars that start with this warning: “What I’m about to teach you to do today is illegal in the state of Georgia. However, I was asked by the state of Georgia to present this training to you.”

more (and this article doesn’t even get into the super-obvious racial and class implications of “rough play” bans, but you guys can do that math yourself I’m sure)

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