Research shows letting kids play fight is good for them.
Research shows letting kids play fight is good for them. NICK KOSSATCH

WATERCOOLER: Kids need to fight if they want to be smart

LETTING kids play fight and have some rough-and-tumble on the school playground may boost their brain power and improve behaviour, a University of the Sunshine Coast academic has found.

USC Associate Lecturer in Early Childhood Education Dr Jennifer Hart has pinpointed the benefits of letting boys be boys and release their pent-up aggression.

"Particularly for preschool-aged boys, excluding aggressive play such as play fighting and rough-and-tumble may limit their physical, communicative, social, emotional and cognitive development," Dr Hart said.

"This includes deficits in skills such as developing concepts of right and wrong, co-operation and conflict resolution, physical restraint and co-ordination."


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She goes even further, suggesting schools that ban aggressive play could be "significantly impacting on academic performance".

"Rough play allows the release of pent-up energy, therefore children are able to be attentive for longer time periods," Dr Hart said.

She will outline the benefits of playful aggression for young children at free twilight seminars for teachers and education students on the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday, June 8 and Gympie on June 14.

Is it time we let our kids have some real rough-and-tumble play?

This poll ended on 30 June 2016.

Current Results

Absolutely, kids today are too soft. They need toughening up


Yes, rough play teaches kids self-confidence and to pick themselves up


No, it only teaches them problems can be solved with violence


Maybe, as long as it is supervised and there is no risk of injury


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The seminar, That's too rough: Lifting the ban on young boy's sociodramatic play interests, is being provided for educators from schools across the region that have provided placements for USC's pre-service teachers.

Dr Hart said the policies that prohibited rough play were not grounded in research.

"Two decades of research demonstrates playful aggression within early childhood programs is beneficial, yet it is typically discouraged by parents and teachers because it is interpreted to be inappropriate or dangerous," she said.

The seminar will provide practical strategies for supporting rough play in indoor and outdoor educational settings and cover simple techniques to distinguish between playful and serious aggression.

"In aggressive play, the players do not intend to harm one another, either physically or emotionally," Dr Hart said.

"One key indication of the intent of the play is the facial expression of the children," she said.

"Those who are smiling, laughing and have an open body position are enjoying their experience."

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