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Boys and rough play

(19 Posts)
streakybacon Sat 27-Sep-08 07:18:30

Just doing a rough straw poll on this.

Those of you with sons, how many of you would say that rough and tumble play is normal for 9-10 year old boys?

And action figures that fight - is that normal for the same age group? Would you expect two children with eg Star Wars figures to create battles between them?

Or are these behaviours excessively aggressive and to be discouraged?

Threadwworm Sat 27-Sep-08 07:21:33

Rough and tumble: absolutely normal. Mine do it all the tinme

Mock battles with action figures? Mine weren't much into that, but I'd say that was pretty normal too -- depending on just how aggressive the play was.

kitbit Sat 27-Sep-08 07:46:04

I think creating scenarios in which two sides do battle, with some clashing of various figures, a bit of dying etc is normal. Torture and prolonged aggressive battle tactics might be a bit more of a concern.
Rough and tumble - most 9/10 yr olds will do this at some point to let off steam I think. What does it entail? Play fighting, tickling etc between siblings or good friends is pretty usual.

seeker Sat 27-Sep-08 07:53:48

Absolutely normal - all the boys I know seem to spend huge amounts of time wrestling each other to the ground and creating battles. My 7 year old has a lot of soft toys and they sometimes fight to the death.

"Mummy in a fight between Willie the Pooh and Scooby Doo, who would win?"

dustyteddy Sat 27-Sep-08 08:21:49

childish giggle at "willie the pooh" grin

AbbeyA Sat 27-Sep-08 08:25:36

Absolutely normal-it drove me mad, but they loved it! Unfortunately they don't get enough opportunity for it these days. It is much better for them than spending hours watching TV or on a playstation etc.

streakybacon Sat 27-Sep-08 12:22:44

Thanks for your feedback.

Here's why I was asking. My ds is almost 10 with diagnosed Asperger's. When distressed he does tend to become aggressive but I work very hard with him on this aspect of his dx and certainly don't condone it. At the beginning of term he was playing very well at breaks, managing teasing and rough play with relative ease. I was thrilled at how well he was progressing.

At the end of week two he had a godawful meltdown which was managed inappropriately and he utterly lost control, his behaviour escalated beyond anything ever witnessed in school and he was quite aggressive (swearing, lashing out etc because people were trying to restrain him). This used to be quite common at home but we've learned to manage it and we haven't had anything like this for several months.

Since then he's trying very hard to stay calm and is working on his usual strategies at home, and is doing well. But at school his class teacher is now focusing on his choice of games (rough and tumble play fights and Star Wars figures), which up till 'the incident' hadn't been a problem. he's not making up violent scenarios but is acting out parts of the movie. She wants him to not play these games because she thinks it's making him more aggressive - I believe he's learned a lot from this kind of interaction and to stop him is removing a learning opportunity from him.

What I'm struggling with is where his Asperger's ends and his personality begins. Obviously he's a very physical boy but with his needs met he isn't aggressive at all. I don't want to stifle his personal choices and the games he wants to play with friends, especially as he learns so much from them. I don't think he can be expected to learn how to manage life's challenges by hiding away from them.

Any other thoughts?

cornsilk Sat 27-Sep-08 12:29:28

I have read somewhere that chn with AS can be affected by violent films. But if the other chn play like that and he is already playing in that way it seems unfair to ask him to stop. Could she not use a social story to help explain to him that the violence in the films is make believe etc?

AbbeyA Sat 27-Sep-08 12:35:28

I haven't actually read any to recommend but there are a few books about on raising boys. Schools are more suited to girls and unfortunately most teachers are female.
I have no expertise, but while I can appreciate that it makes life easier if he doesn't play these games I think that you are right in that he needs to face life's challenges and not hide away from them.
Has he tried something like scouts that gives chance of risk and rough and tumble and physical challenge?

saint2shoes Sat 27-Sep-08 12:37:32

ds is older now, but it was totally normal for him and his freinds to do this.

streakybacon Sat 27-Sep-08 13:23:10

Cornsilk, ds doesn't actually have a problem distinguishing films/stories from reality as some AS children do, but I have written a social story for him about ensuring that physical play is mutually enjoyable for all concerned. Really not sure how else I can deal with this other than the constant reinforcement that we do anyway, but the teacher seems to think we can flick a switch (ie, by telling him not to) and change his behaviour. It's part of his dx and although unsuitable and inappropriate, it takes time and patience to make any significant progress with an AS child. TBH I don't think the teacher, although very experienced and highly regarded, is entirely sure what is 'normal' for boys as she wants to discourage all physical play, which I totally disagree with for any boys as I think that's how they learn social hierarchy and negotiation skills. Several professionals (including the Head) have agreed with me on this.

Abbey, I take your point about schools being better for girls, who are much more willing to please and are generally gentler (though not always!). Ds doesn't go to scouts but has lots of opportunity for physical play eg walks in the woods and he does structured activities like wall climbing and karate.

Thanks for your responses. I think for the time being I'll just go with what feels right. I don't want to rattle teachers' cages but sometimes you've just got to go with gut instinct, don't you?

AbbeyA Sat 27-Sep-08 13:30:01

Go with your gut instinct-you are the one who knows him best. As the mother of 3 DSs I agree with you.

phdlife Sat 27-Sep-08 13:37:47

Do you know - I have no experience with any of this whatsoever, was just reading in case I have to deal with it in the future - but it sounds to me, from your post, like perhaps the teacher was scared by what she witnessed? Hence the wanting to stop it completely, in case it goes out of her control again?

Not, imo, a reasonable response (I spend my afternoons at the park, I know what boys are like!) but understandable, and perhaps handle-able if thought of that way?

Just an ideer...

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Sat 27-Sep-08 15:18:45

Teacher sounds like she understands bugger all about AS

What are his triggers for aggression. Is it a sensory thing such as sensory overloa, or was it because he wasn't told what was going to happen next etc? (just thinking if you can get her to understand why he becomes aggressive she might back of about the -entirely normal imo- games and rough and tumble.)

If social stories work with your son definitely the way to go.

SmugColditz Sat 27-Sep-08 15:37:14

I did this as a little girl, so whether it's normal for boys, i don't know.

cat64 Sat 27-Sep-08 15:54:25

Message withdrawn

SmugColditz Sat 27-Sep-08 15:57:27

If it is only your son they are disallowing from imaginative action figure play, go in there and read them the riot act - or rather, the DDA

sarah573 Sat 27-Sep-08 22:15:44

My DS1 is 10 with AS. He is not rough and tumble at all. He has big sensory problems with being touched, and I don't think he could imagine anything he would least like to do that play fight!! DS2,8 and DD,6 (both NT) are very physical, they are always rolling around trying to kill each other (in a loving sibling way of course!).

I think what you describe for your son is completely normal behaviour. Its also great that as a child with AS its something that he is comfortable to do. Not only is he interacting with other children and developing his social skills, but he is playing imaginatively. Providing he is drawing the line between the play aggression and real aggression, then I don't think there should be a problem with a bit of rough and tumble.

streakybacon Sun 28-Sep-08 07:37:44

Thanks so much for this, you've really reassured me.

The main problem with dealing with the school is that they have an ASD unit attached and thus have a strong reputation for working with such children (however I do think, from talking to other parents, that's weakening lately). On the whole they do, but it's this one particular teacher (Y5 and 6 mixed) who seems to be unaware and tends to treat everyone as 'normal' (apologise to anyone who doesn't like that term). She is an older woman with years of teaching experience, is also the school's dep head, so it does make it rather awkward to challenge her on how to work with children like ds. She tends to come across as though she knows everything and needs to be the one telling me about ds rather than listening to my experience and understanding of him.

We do have an excellent autism outreach service but at times she's a bit LEA orientated. I have spoken to her following the exclusion incident and she agreed to observe the teacher's classroom style but I don't actually think it's that that's the problem, iykwim, but her pastoral care methods (developing social skills, discipline etc) that are questionable.

I have met with the Head about home strategies for calming and more importantly preventing problem behaviours, including his triggers. She was very interested and supportive but I don't know how much has been fed down or is being acted upon.

But you've put my mind at ease (esp those with an AS perspective) and I feel more confident about the way I'm dealing with things. Thanks a million, you lovely MNers, you!

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