029: Why we shouldn’t ban war play

This episode comes to us by way of a suggestion from my friend Jess, who told me she had joined an outing with some children in her three-year-old son’s preschool class. She said some of the slightly older children were running around playing that their hands were guns and shooting at each other, and the teachers were pretty much just ignoring it, which really shocked her. So I thought to myself “I bet some smart person has done some research on this” and so I went out and found us just such a smart person to talk with. Diane E. Levin, Ph.D. is Professor of Education at Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts where she has been training early childhood professionals for over twenty-five years. She teaches courses on play, violence prevention, action research. Her book, The War Play Dilemma, provides a theoretical view of why children engage in war play and how parents and teachers can support the development that occurs when children engage in this kind of play – and do it in a way that doesn’t make us feel queasy. References Dunn, J. & Hughes, C. (2001). “I got some swords and you’re dead!”: Violent fantasy, antisocial behavior, friendship, and moral sensibility in young children. Child Development 72(2), 491-505. Fehr, K.K. & Russ, S.W. (2013). Aggression in pretend play and aggressive behavior in the classroom. Early Education and Development 24, 332-345. DOI: 10.1080/10409289.2012.675549 Ferguson, C.J. (2007). Evidence for publication bias in video game violence effects literature: A meta-analytic review. Aggression & Violent Behavior 57, 348-364. Hart, J.L., & Tannock, M.T. (2013). Young children’s play fighting and use of war toys. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. Retrieved from: http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/play/according-experts/young-childrens-play-fighting-and-use-war-toys Holland, P. (203). We don’t play with guns here: War, weapon and superhero play in the early years. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press Levin, D.E. & Carlsson-Paige, N. (2006). The war play dilemma: What every parent and teacher needs to know (2nd Ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Lober R., Lacourse, E., & Homimsh, D.L. (2005). Homicide, violence, and developmental trajectories. In R.E. Tremblay, W.W. Hartup, & J. Archer (Eds.), Developmental origins of aggression. New York, NY: Guilford Press. Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment (n.d.). Website. http://www.truceteachers.org  

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