It was interesting to read this article as just yesterday Ellen and I were talking about playing war and pretending to use guns...
and I am very much of the opinion that children NEED to play everything to be able to sort their thoughts about what happens in the world - and that their views on death and war are very different than our more serious adult views with a deeper understanding of the consequences. Of course when they do play these games I also think it is important to ask the children questions - to give them time and opportunity to reflect upon their play... and to help them with the structure of their game - I don't want to encourage some kind of "Lord of the Flies" scenario.
here comes the translated article from Svenska Dagbladet - one of the major newspapers here in Sweden.
Even "harmless" games can be evilPLAY OR FOR REAL ? Playing war - a battle between two struggling teams . As in Star Wars , as in cowboys and Indians . As in ... football?- Is there any difference if the kids have toy guns or if they have a football? Children
can violate each other in all sorts of games, says Annica Löfdahl , Professor of Educational Work at the University of Karlstad.The
siblings Emelina , 8 years and Truls , age 6 playing war with Star Wars-lightsaber together with his friend Milo, 6 years. "You can not hit as hard with their swords , then one can get hurt for real ," said Milo.
Angelica ZanderJune 5th, 2012 at 01:00 , Updated : June 15 , 2012 at 09:50BANG , YOU'RE DEAD! - A series about playing war.Part 2.- I do not really understand the fear among some adults against war games . They
are seen as evil and horrible and that we must protect the innocent child from, but playing mom, dad, kids are always okay - even if one of the
children may never be anything other than a dog.So says Christian Eidevald. He is a preschool teacher and lecturer in Education at Jönköping University.- There is a lot of unpleasantness in children's 'friendly' games. I mean, that as an adult,we should look for exclusions in the game, rather than on the kind of game the kids play. For
me it is no neutral game, everyone can be good or bad, says
Christian Eidevald , his research he filmed children and educators
in preschool.- In the film sequences you will see that there are ongoing power struggles, manipulating and viciousness in children's games. But it is not visible from a distance when children play quiet games, when there is no running around and shooting .Annica Löfdahl, Professor of Early Childhood Education at Karlstad University, is on the same track .- Is there any difference if the kids have toy guns or if they have a football? Is it our adult interpretation that it is horrible when a child says "pang"? Children
can violate each other in all sorts of games and they use the content
in the game to create and maintain the hierarchy between them, says
Annica Löfdahl.At some preschools children are not allowed to play war . At others it's okay.- Some have a rule that you must not aim at each other. Others that you can not wave your sticks because of the risk of injury, says Christian Eidevald .
What can a child learn to play war ?- In all games you learn to wait your turn and to show respect. The
war games also includes cohesion and tension - but this also happens in
the game " got all my little chickens ," said Christian Eidevald .- Children learn that there are dangerous situations. They examine what it means, learn to deal with it and test different solutions. In
my studies I have found that children who are given time to complete their play the game does not end in a disaster, where the world ends , but it'll
always work out . If you have died you will become alive again , says Annica Löfdahl.Play is children's work , says Lars- Erik Berg , a professor of social psychology at the University of Skövde. It
is through play that children build their identity, communicate with
others and themselves, deal with reality and sort their experiences.- Even very young children know today that war exists. There is an overwhelming reality that children need to deal with. Dad may die, mother disappear, the houses destroyed. In
play, the child can deal with the contents of the war so that it will not
be so horrible, or to familiarize themselves with the awfulness
in their own way. Imagination is a way for them to try to agree with reality and work on it, he says.Lars-
Erik Berg thinks it is good that children play war, even necessary,
but under the supervision of adults, so that the game does not get out of hand.- Children like to play adventurous games and engineer exciting situations. They
are also interested to portray power, trying to determine , be involved
with something dangerous and be afraid, says Annica Löfdahl. Children
borrow themes from Star Wars, for example, and create their own
content based on the overall archetypal story content on the evil and
the good.- But I'm not so sure that the classic image of playing war where you're shooting at each other with guns is so common. Some boys I observed played that lego-trees were war missiles loaded with farts, she says.
The notion that it is often boys playing war is both true and not true, says Christian Eidevald .- One should be careful not club kids according sex. There are girls playing war, and lots of boys who do not play war, but they can not be seen, he says.In
his research from preschool, he has seen how the boys are allowed to
haggle and be physical with a 'typical boys, they never listen" from the
teachers while girls who are physically active or shouting out loud,
quickly become sharply reprimanded by teachers who, according to
Christian Eidevald, unconsciously treat children differently based on gender.-
The consequence is that the girls who take lots of space learn that "that is no way to behave as a girl" and all children learn to see it as
self-evident that the boys should have more space. It
is often said that there is no violence in the nursery, but I have many
movie clips on boys who fight without the teachers doing something .Fighting really is not the same as playing war. As soon as a game turns into a brawl or someone goes outside the rules of play, so the game ceases to be play.
- Pretend fight/wrestling Play is a way of trying to be physical and measure their strength against each other. They have no content as war games have, says Annica Löfdahl.What is called "aggression games" however is a psychoanalytic concept, she
explains , and it is interpreted as the child transmutes their emotions
in the game and that it prevents inhibitions.-
But if you look with pedagogical glasses you will see there will not be aggression
games, because the game ends immediately when someone becomes
aggressive. However, you can in the game try to be angry without being angry for real, she says.When Christian Eidevald previously worked as a preschool teacher, he arranged educators pretend fight/wrestling games for girls and boys.- We kept to the thick carpet and had strict rules. It's okay, the kids still know exactly who is the strongest of the group. Rather,
it is how we adults act in the unthinking situations that matter - as
if children are allowed to continue fighting without any intervention,
or if by its actions show that it's okay that it is the strongest
allowed to take toys from others.He
and the other teachers even arranged a huge water fight every year
where five departments from the preschool fought against each other.- We planned for days and created strategies and lay in ambush. We adults were just as involved as the children, says Christian Eidevald who likes it when it's a bit exciting.He is a trained elite soldier, thinks paintball is fun and has periodically played a lot video games.- The game of war is separated from the real war. For children, death does not have the same meaning as for us adults. In
the game, it's not about existential questions but that you can die for about five seconds and then can live again, he says.If a child is playing war all the time and for a long period of time time a parent or educator should react.-
The same applies if a child is just playing with dolls all the time,
says Christian Eidevald, then one also needs to introduce other games/play. All children need to play all types of games.