Your Mother Was Wrong about Fighting

In this era of don't touch policies and no recess at school, it seems we are encountering even more disruptions in our schools. What's the solution? Playfighting!

Dr. Sergio Pellis, who is Professor of Psychology at the University of Lethbridge, has studied aggression in rats for 27 years and has come to the conclusion - we socialize pretty much the same through non-injurious rough-housing. He recently presented his findings in the April issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science.

In short, rats are naturally aggressive and their play fighting allows them to test their relationships and develop strong social bonds. Those animals that were prevented from playfighting became outcasts because they tended to play inappropriately.

So what does Dr. Pellis believe rats can teach us about curbing our aggressive nature?
  1. We are naturally aggressive.
  2. Playfighting is where we learn to temper our aggressive instincts.
  3. Kids should be encouraged to playfight and when things get out of hand that is when the adults step in to teach appropriate play skills and reconciliation.
  4. Those who playfight can expect to form strong social bonds and learn how and when to defend oneself appropriately.
  5. Those who don't playfight as kids will develop poor social skills(ie. hitting too hard) and can expect to get ostracized by the other children.

Overcautious parents and educators are creating a generation of sociopaths unable to resolve conflicts in socially acceptable ways. Maybe some of the problems we are experiencing now with rampant school fights, kids touching inappropriately and kids getting bullied, stems from misunderstanding the value of play and playfighting to our children.