One of my son’s friends likes to pretend he’s a kickboxer, and now he’s encouraged my son and the other boys to do the same. Although they’re only 8 to 10 years old, I really think they could hurt each other. I don’t want to make my son look ridiculous by padding him up before he goes out to play, but I also don’t want him to get a broken bone. Any suggestions?
Get him to pretend he’s someone less violent.
The problem with children pretending to kickbox is the potential for real body contact and injury. “Pretend” kickboxing sessions often escalate into physical confrontations because someone inadvertently gets kicked or hit. Unfortunately, this fighting style is glamorized on TV programs and in movies that are marketed to young children. Overwhelmingly popular with boys your son’s age, these shows depict violence as the major, or only, means to resolve a problem.
When my sister’s son was 5, she noticed some very aggressive styles of playing – including lots of kickboxing – in which her son and his friends acted out situations they’d seen on a children’s TV program. Almost inevitably, someone was injured or something overturned. When she stopped free access to the program, her son began choosing other play styles or action scenarios to act out.
It would seem reasonable to me to redirect your son, and his friends, to some alternative play style. If your son and his friends spend a lot of time watching programs with kickboxing, you may want to rethink your viewing choices. You may also need to make a couple of phone calls to the mothers of your son’s friends and decide on a “neighborhood” solution. You can present your decision to your son simply by saying that you’re worried someone will be hurt by this kind of play, and you’d like them to choose something else to do.