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Swedish Preschool Bans Play Fighting, War Toys

 
 
 
 
 
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A preschool in southern Sweden has pioneered a zero tolerance policy on play fighting and aggressive games for the sake of children’s “mental wellbeing”, a step which triggered psychologists’ skepticism.

Children at the Västanvinden preschool, located in Halmstad in southern Sweden, may no longer engage in play fighting, as aggressive games and war toys were dismissed as destructive by the staff, Swedish Radio reported.

According to local teacher Susanne Elveroth Aronsson, the staff discovered that some of the children were not involved in the game, whereas others had to get involved due to peer pressure, despite clearly wanting to be left in peace.

The decision was made after the games became increasingly belligerent, as the children apparently started to mimic an 18+ video game, which turned physical.

“They built weapons, pretended to be shooting them and dying, and as we have children who have actually witnessed real hostilities, we decided to take a stand,” Aronsson explained.

The “war ban” has been in effect for a few weeks, but according to the Västanvinden staff, they have already seen a positive shift.

“We noticed a better climate and a nicer playing-environment, where children play more constructive games,” Aronsson noticed.

Psychologist and Stockholm University preschool didactics teacher Christian Eidevald, however, argued that play fighting was a natural feature, and that a ban was not the right way to go.

“Children play very many games, some are calm, others more adventurous. Often their games are based on what they have experienced, seen on TV or at home. I see war games as a natural element,” Eidevald told Swedish Radio.

According to him, the fighting games are part of the learning process and are easily distinguished from brawls judging by the facial expressions that bear no malice. Games don’t have any harmful effects and are something that should be encouraged, Eidevald argued.

Eidevald suggested that even children with war experience may take part in mock battles and even benefit from them, advising against overprotection.

“Under playful conditions, it can be a way for the children to process the memories, provided that participation is voluntary and joyful,” Eidevald said.

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