Research demonstrates distinct differences between serious aggressive behaviour and playful aggressive behaviour, with intent to harm being the major factor of serious aggression. Research further demonstrates playful aggressive behaviour as a neglected, yet important element of socio-dramatic play, especially for young boys. Children who engage in play fighting are simply pretending to be aggressive as they develop a fighting theme that commonly involves symbolic weapons or war toys. They frequently exchange roles, collaboratively develop storylines, and repeat sequences in an effort to perfect their physical movements and the social dynamics of their play. Participants enjoyably and voluntarily engage in reciprocal role-playing that includes aggressive make-believe themes, actions, words and weapons; yet lacks intent to harm either emotionally or physically. However, educators must be cognizant of supervision, a key component for supporting play fighting. As with learning to cut with scissors, writing with a sharp pencil, and climbing on playground equipment, young children need the establishment of clear guidelines and reinforcement or redirection from educators to ensure their safety is assured within developmentally appropriate play.


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