Guidelines for Distinguishing Aggression From Play Fighting
Research suggests that adults tend to confuse aggression and play fighting in children. In order to intervene effectively in bullying, adults need to be able to discriminate play from true aggression. What follows are some guidelines for distinguishing rough-and-tumble play from bullying and other forms of aggression.
- Positive and neutral facial expressions are more typical of rough-and-tumble play, while negative facial expressions characterize aggression.
- Children are free to choose to participate in rough-and-tumble play, but they are often forced or challenged to participate in aggression.
- Children tend not to use full force in rough-and-tumble play, whereas full force is often seen in aggression.
- Children are more likely to alternate roles (for example, chased and chaser) in rough-and-tumble play, while aggression generally involves unilateral roles.
- Children tend to stay together after a bout of play fighting, while they often separate following aggression.
These guidelines are part of the larger Steps to Respect research foundations section of our site.
Reprinted with the permission of the Committee for Children. © 2007 Committee for Children.
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