View Full Version : Advice over 3yo boy's aggressive play

01-03-2015, 10:47 AM
Morning all.

I have a mindee who was 3 in September, is bright, chatty, snuggly and generally an 'easy' child if there is such a thing! I was a little surprised before Christmas when he started playing storm troopers vs Batman with the playmobil but the play was pretty healthy and he had the right idea about good prevailing over evil! Since then though his play has become much more aggressive, occasionally quite violent and through conversations we've had I know he's watched all the Star Wars films, all the Spiderman and Batman films and Dad proudly announced that he'd (3yo) opted for CBBC over CBeebies as it's for 'big boys'. He doesn't have any siblings and the only other children he socialises with are here or at pre-school.
I can't decide if its my lack of understanding of boys at play (I have two girls); my general dislike of him watching films which I think are too old for him (Batman Begins is a 12 ffs!) or if I should genuinely be concerned.
He is never aggressive or violent towards other children but does scare the younger ones sometimes as he can be very shouty. I deal with that as I would any other child, talking about inside and outside voices etc.
He is a clever boy and would spend hours making marble runs, building lego structures, box modelling or building obstacle courses and now all he wants to do is fight and kill the baddies.

Do I need to just have a word with myself and get over it or should I be doing something else?

01-03-2015, 11:29 AM
I think make a note of what dad has said and your concerns but it is probably that he is just into imaginative play with superheroes and fighting baddies....

01-03-2015, 11:59 AM
Watching films with a 12 rating would concern me.

Playing fighting/violence/aggression/'killing' in games = absolutely normal boys! (not all boys of course!)

I have 2 boys myself, they had very little exposure to violence (almost screen-free when young and stil very limited screen time) and absolutely no unsuitable films etc. But every stick is a sword/gun, all small-world play revolves around one lot attacking the other lot, battles, star wars, knights and castles, baddies getting killed, etc etc! Sometimes I try to suggest maybe the baddies can be taken to prison instead...?!

Girls can be oh sooooo very different (not all of course). I found it so hard to get used to (from a family of girls) but once I got over it I just leave them to get on with it. Age 3-4 is a normal time for it to start. No idea if it ever ends...!?

They can simultaneously be the most lovely, snuggly, kind, gentle and sweetest people. That is the clever thing... they know it is a game, they know what is real and what is not- or at least that is where we need to be guiding and supporting so that they know the difference. That is where unsuitable films (and awful TV news reports etc) are harmful, I think, as at 3 they do not know what is real or not and what is every-day/acceptable and what is not.

02-03-2015, 09:10 AM
Thank you both :-) Instinct tell me its a 'thing' he's going through rather than anything to be concerned about but I am making more observations than usual just to be sure. None of it is helped by the fact that the other 3 year old boy I mind at the same time has parents who are staunchly anti-superhero, anti-Disney, anti-play-fighting and would love their little one to be sat reading books all day watching Waybuloo; somehow I have to balance the two! :huh:

02-03-2015, 10:48 AM
I'd monitor it and speak with parents at an early stage to make sure you have their support.

I've had both boys and girls who engage in rough play and/or 'fantasy violence'. Most seem to get obsessions with death and dying as well as fighting, which seems pretty normal if a little scary at first. I think it's important to consider the context and talk about consequences to help them understand death and violence as a fact of life.

It's very hard to find a child who isn't exposed to adult TV. IMHO I think it's not necessarily good that he's watching those films, but it is good that dad at least tells you he is, as I'm sure a lot of parents say one thing and do the other.

It can be difficult to get parents to cooperate. I had one last year who was very gentle around the smaller children, but was obsessed with "children's" action characters: Ben10 and Spiderman in particular. When he played with his own age or older, it would escalate from enthusiasm, through boisterous to play-fighting. It meant we had to keep stopping him before it went too far, and he was going home and telling mum he was unhappy here cos we "wouldn't let him play." Alternative activities simply didn't appeal to him = "boring". It reached the point where every stickle brick became a gun or knife and every sheep or Happyland character had to fight, even if he played alone.

We tried to get parents' to work with us on this, but it didn't happen. Dad didn't see the problem and wanted him to be a "proper boy". But even that was inconsistent. If another boy got pushed over or scared, dad reckoned that was OK and they should "man up a bit". If his boy got pushed, well... that was different, even though he was always at the start of things. Mum vacillated constantly. One day she'd be worried to the point of breaking down in tears cos she didn't know what to do with him. She'd admit all the Ben10 etc wasn't helping, and we'd work out some sort of way forward and hope she'd be able to stic with it even if dad didn't agree. Then next day he'd arrive and pull a Spiderman or Ben10 monster out of his bag, and mum would make excuses that she tried, but he loved the programmes, etc. and everyone bought him the character toys and she couldn't take them away cos they were birthday gifts, etc, etc.

In the end, and after a lot of indecision, parents pulled him out and sent him to nursery. Even then Mum mucked about with "have I made the right decision?" etc. We were kinda relieved it worked out that way, as I could see parents being difficult if we'd given them notice, which we were on the point of considering due to the other children being disrupted so. :(

02-03-2015, 01:40 PM
Any child can go to see a 12a film at the cinema if they have an adult with them. There is no lower limit. Children just have to have an adult with them. over 12 a child can go on their own to see the film. The 12 certificate is for DVD's, as they cannot be sold to under 12's.

The BBFC say that 12 are suitable for children over 12, whereas a 15 is only suitable for over 15's.

So much merchandise is aimed at younger children, that has characters from under 12 films. Many kids have Spider-Man lunch boxes, bedspreads or tea shirts, or even Lego characters.

These type of films do not float my boat, and they aren't my husbands cup of tea either, so my daughters have never seen such films , ( I haven't either!!!)

If their parents watch these type of films, they probably see no harm in their kids watching them.

02-03-2015, 08:26 PM
I would say the play is typical of many boys. My Son who is nearly 9 has always loved the marvel characters, Ben 10 etc. Although it is only in the last year that he has watched a lot of the marvel films, it's typically Daddy and Son bonding as my Husband loves them too! We have judged these particular 12 films as suitable for his maturity level. Would I let a 3 year old watch them? Absolutely not! They can be quite dark in theme and I think too scary for that age group. There are cartoons like super hero squad which are still probably aimed at an older audience (than 3) but more appropriate than the films. I would discuss your thoughts with the parents.