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June 19, 2007


Ed Peters

JIMMY WROTE: "...human boys wrestle and engage in rough-and-tumble play and play cowboys and indians or cops and robbers or whatever the local cultural variant of the game is."

Yes. When I was small, we played Inquisition and Heretics. I always wanted to be Torquemada, but sometimes I was an Albegensian or a Cathar.

Victor Hartanto

We simulated golden age naval battle when we were small, me and my cousin.
Sometimes we're the Far East Trading Company, other times we're the pirates :P


More on this subject here Rearing children in captivity. I suspect this is not only a British phenomenon.

While thinking about the naturalness of learning about life's risks through play, some venerable Jewish customs during Hanukkah came to mind. These include encouraging, even young, children to play a gambling game (Dreidel) and in some communities, playing with fire (candles and oil lamps).


Great post.


Another great reason to get your kids to study Judo!

And I loved playing Oligarchs and Poor People in my youth. Oh, how I relished evicting the Poor from my land!


Sounds like more kids need Scouting. Unfortunately, Scouting also has suffered from litigiousness and there always seem to be more safety rules and restrictions. Nevertheless, most of the issues described in the article are perfectly met by a robust Scouting program.


Something important left out of the post is that the rough and tumble play teaches the players the meaning of restraint. Dogs and cats play rough, and when they cross the line into being too rough, they receive a swift correction (or shunning, depending) from their peers. It's helpful in retraining dogs who are too rough, and I hate to ponder the implications for kids who don't play enough.


can i just add, it's one more benefit of having more than the average 1.4 children in the home! the more kids i have, the less "hovering" i can do over each one... and the more playmates they get.

Ed Peters

We also played St. Michael casting the Devil out of heaven, but we had to stop when the metal trash can lids (remember those? they made great sheilds) were dented beyond recognition.


Good heavens,
When I was kid we wresteled, built dams in creeks, swam incessantly, fished, climb anything even remotely climbable, and basically ran like energizer bunnies from dawn to dusk. My goodness...how did my friends and I ever survive???!!! The kids at my school, in rural area of Missouri, play baseball, softball, basketball, climb a rather large jungle gym, and even *gasp* have a merry-go-round. Whe they aren't here at school they hunt, fish, help on the farm (hay mostly), swim, and play just like I used to when I was a kid...haven't buried a one yet, either!! Heck, aside of a cast every now and then, they seem none to worse for wear. The kind of nonsense presented in this story is just another example of the feminization of the culture, especially directed at boys. If children never learn to gauge risk, be appropriately competitive, and learn than effort means something, what will they be like when they get older?? Oh yeah..they'd be liberals then!


Instead of cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians, my kids play Border Patrol and Illegal Aliens. ;-)


For example, you pour water from a tall thin glass into a broad low glass and ask the children if it is the same volume of water.

Instead, why don't you subject them to the Mueller-Lyer Arrow test while you're at it!


Gave my hubby Conn & Hal Iggulden's book:" The Dangerous Book for Boys" for Father's Day. He, and our tribe of seven boys, are loving it. Highly recommended for anyone who remembers enjoying childhood or anyone who has forgotten that kids shouldn't come "complete with remote control and keyboard."


children who sit in front of their computer or television

I remember having been in a store the other day and one of the teen-ager there was bragging about how proud he was in that he had made his room into some self-sustaining abode complete with refrigerator and other necessities; all so that he can spend endless days in his room, playing his playstation 3 (at least, that is what he bragged to his co-worker).

Even back in the days of Atari, we still managed to embark on several Tom Sawyer adventures, unlike these kids. We never, in our wildest dreams, subjected ourselves to this Howard Hughes-like confinement all but for a PS3!

Tim J.

This is precisely why I got my son into scouts, and in a troop that camped a LOT. Kids need to learn - through experience - that they can eat burned food, get scraped, bruised and dirty, hike until they are worn out, have no access to modern electronics of any kind, sleep through a cold night on the hard ground,... and still be fine in the morning. Human beings are tough and resourceful, if they will take the trouble to discover this part of themselves.

I hope it makes a difference for him later in life. He did a lot of things he did not think he could do.

My daughter is into hiking and camping already, but we have to do that on our own. The Girl Scouts are just not into it. It gets in the way of important self-esteem projects.


Please, they let kids run into plenty of moral dangers,
they themselves are immoral figures.


The way you get kids to discover volume is to make them wash glasses and pots.

I remember, as a really little kid, spending a lot of time pouring one thing into another thing while "rinsing the dishes" for the dishwasher, until this crucial concept made sense to the back of my brain as well as the front. My mom let me take as long as I wanted.

Some Day

That proves that youth are made for combativity and heroism and not the seeking of pleasure.


My mother was always very creative with us. She'd make clay and playdo for us, and help us with drawing and water-color painting instead of having us watch TV. We'd also play outside too, and ride bikes and play street hockey in the summer. Looking back on it now, I can't believe I ever talked my parents into letting me ride a bike. I rode one last year for the first time in about ten years and was terrified. I can't believe I ever did that as a child... wow, was I stupid! On another note, it's interesting to notice the difference in domesticated cats and dogs from their wild relatives. Our pets play tons more, and this is probably one effect of their domestication. It's just interesting to see that my 6 and 3 year old labs play when they're together, but wolves only play when they are young, ditto for cats. What can I say, I'm a nerd.

A Simple Sinner

One of the benifits of puppy-play wrestling is bite inhibition. Dogs learn about what is acceptable play, and what is too rough. When I bring a puppy into the pack (I rescue, show, and work with placing puppies from puppymills that have been shut down by local authorities).

It would be a mistake to think that this form of play is exclusively for devloping defense skills... it has immense social interaction and communication value to it. But that gets me thinking about a related matter...

What level of social skills will kids who are not well socialized out there develop? Will a teenager who has spent a waking hear of his life on the internet do well asking a girl out on a date? Given the free access most would have to any number of euphamisticly monikered "adult websites" that only demand a minor prove he is old enough by clickin on a link that says "I am old enough"... Well this has lead to - by some accounts - phenomenal groth in sex addictions at earlier and earlier ages. Are these kids failing to develop the appropriate inhibitions and social skills to have healthy relationships?

A Simple Sinner

hmm I did not edit that well.

When I bring a puppy into the pack, I first place it with a gentle older dog who will put up with his or her antics and is tolerant enough to accept a little rough-housing before taking appropriate corrective measures. I have an old shiba inu that has taught a few young Basenjis what "will do" and what will not!

John J. Simmins

That's why I make my kids sit in toy cars for two hours each day.


I have 5 boys and 3 girls. The rule in our house has ended up something like this, "If you ain't bleedin', you ain't hurt." Though it doesn't work for all situations, obviously. I have seen the older, wiser kids correct the younger kids in their rough play and then it naturally goes down the line. Not sure what is going to happen to the youngest, since he gets lots of correction and won't have anyone to correct. Maybe I need some grandchildren????


A caveat: given what society says is normal sexual behavior and expectations, I hardly think learning what you should do about a date should come from peers. Honestly, I'd rather have a homeschooled introvert than yet another immoral sheep following the secular flock.

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