Why Are Kids So “Bad” at Playing Tag?

Occupational nnykfshrnz
therapist Angela Hanscom is founder of the New England nature-based program TimberNook, and author of a bunch of fascinating articles, including “Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today.” Her latest piece is about how we’re inadvertently depriving children of the opportunity to learn how to use their muscles, which leads them to a strange new kind of body-incompetence. This essay appears on Valerie Strauss’ blog in The Washington Post.

Why Kids Are Getting More Aggressive on the Playground, by Angela Hanscom

Tag — a simple game of tag. Seems innocent enough. But is it? Not according to many teachers.

Kids are starting to hit with such force that they often end up whacking their opponent across the back in a monstrous slap. I’ve seen this myself many times. “Ouch!” one kid cries, now on their hands and knees and fighting off tears. “Don’t hit so hard!” they yell up at the child standing over them. Often, you hear the other child whine, “I didn’t mean to!” Many times the act seems unintentional, although painful for the victim nonetheless. Tag is now becoming such an issue that schools are starting to ban this once beloved game.

In the fall of 2013, the problem of banning the childhood game hit a little too close to home. At a local New Hampshire school, tag was no longer a reality for many children. A classic game that was cherished through the ages was dismissed due to safety concerns. Parents and children were confused and some were outraged. Headlines stated everything from, “Banning Tag is Dumb” to “More Schools Banning Tag because of Injuries.” Curious, I started interviewing teachers in Maine and New Hampshire about what they were seeing at recess time.

One teacher said, “Kids are becoming more aggressive. When they play games like tag, they push with great force, often hurting the other child. We had to implement a ‘two-finger’ touch rule, so that kids couldn’t push so hard.” Another teacher that had been around for 30 years, said she had seen an increase in aggressive behavior as well. “They can’t seem to keep their hands off each other! Kids are always getting hurt.” A local principal stated that tag had become such a problem that they had to get creative. They gave the children foam noodles to “tag” the other children with and avoid actual contact with the hands.

The problem? Due to less time in active play these days, children are not developing the senses in their joints and muscles (proprioceptive sense) like they used to.

Read the rest here. And my totally off-the-cuff guess would be that in addition to not getting to know their muscles, they also have so little practice at playing (and have perhaps too much practice at being part of our super-sensitive culture, attuned to every slight), that they could well misinterpret a tag as an assault.

Either way, same solution: More unsupervised play, especially beyond the school. – L


Help! Hellllllp!

Help! Hellllllp!

, , , , , , , ,

48 Responses to Why Are Kids So “Bad” at Playing Tag?

  1. Wow... March 30, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    I also saw a study somewhere (I’ll find it later) about whole-body play in general and roughhousing in particular being good for kids and teenagers.

    Tag is an example of whole-body play.

  2. BL March 30, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    When I was in grade school, one of the big playground games was Red Rover …


    … which is a hell of a lot rougher than Tag. Red Rover was played co-ed, by the way. No “whacks” or “monstrous slaps”, though trying to push through the line often collapsed the line to the ground.

  3. Kate P March 30, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    I don’t know. I remember getting hit pretty hard in tag. Are kids really hitting harder or are parents’ / adults tolerance for those injuries a lot lower? I am not saying to condone a true bully our someone really getting hurt… just that many of us probably needed stitches in order to got any sympathy for a play ground injury.

  4. Warren March 30, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    This is even more proof that delaying physcal contact in sports is very risky. So many football leagues, hockey leagues and the like have jumped on the band wagon of delaying body contact. I am talking about tackling and body checking, and other legal and essential parts of the sports until kids are older.

    The idea behind it is to wait until they have a better handle on their bodies and the sport before engaging in the physical contact aspects. Thus preventing injury at younger and older ages. It is having the reverse outcome. The players have not had the gradual introduction to the body contact over the years, and now when they are bigger, faster, and stronger they are thrust into it. They don’t know how to hit, they don’t know how to avoid, anticipate a hit and they don’t know how to fall. They also have anger issues, as they are now being hit, and hurt and don’t know how to mentally and emotionally handle it. When I say hurt, I don’t mean injured, but just the obvious pain of being taken down.

    Like any other form of overprotection, it is short term and only serves to make the parents feel better. The parents feel better because at that exact moment they prevented their snowflake from adversity, and yes potential injury. What they never see, is that they are actually creating a problem. Being that their snowflake is now ill equipped to handle the sports natural progression. Just like in life.

  5. SOA March 30, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    yes I am sure since kids rarely get to run around outside and jump and play this would be true. Also I blame the over use of sports and other scheduled activities over free play. They just teach them certain skills and only work certain muscle groups but it is not the same as free play.

    Kids need to stop being over scheduled with sports teams that take up entire weekends so they get no play in.
    A mother I know was lamenting her son did not want to play baseball this season because he wanted time to just play and fish. Well if sports did not eat up entire weekends and weekdays then kids could play baseball and have free time. It should not have to be one or the other.

    I hated tag as a kid. I don’t like to run. But I got plenty of free play doing other things like swinging and climbing and dancing and jumping.

  6. hineata March 30, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    Sorry, this sounds like complete bs to me. Kids still get plenty of free time to play down here, at least at school, and Bull Rush is making a comeback too. I get kids whining about getting hit too hard, but sometimes if the touch is too soft the tagger is whining that the other kid is ignoring the tag. They find their own middle ground usually, or stomp off to find other things to play.

    In my opinion nothing much has changed in 20 years in the playground. Except the reintroduction of Bull Rush, which is usually supervised. The only times I have to stop tag is either on the much-reduced concrete space during wet lunch times, or when kids try playing it while racing across the top of the playground equipment….we get a number of badly broken arms that way, and having to stop everything for the ambulance is a pain in the proverbial.

    This is just an excuse to write an article. Moving right along, my next piece will be on the reduction of phone manners in the younger generation, which I blame on Hollywood.

  7. Kaerie March 30, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    My son was incredibly outside averse. He would occasionally go outside to play with his friend next door, but mostly they were inside playing video games. As we lived in Florida and he had horrible reactions to mosquito bites (day care and then public school would frequently send him home with the accusation of chicken pox) and because of the oppressive heat in the summer, I allowed it.

    I absolutely saw the lack of proprioceptive sense in how he used his body. Since getting him outside was nearly impossible because of how miserable he found the experience, I enrolled him in karate. There he gets some body contact and started to get in touch with how his body is supposed to move. I saw that he was having so much fun that I joined the adult class, and now we practice katas and sparring together. It’s a win/win.

  8. Wendy W March 30, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    Another factor in this trend may be that schools are more likely to remove the opportunity for trouble than to deal with the one or two kids that actually are the problem. There have always been kids who tagged/pushed too hard, but in the past that kid would have been dealt with individually. Now, that kid may have the mom who is a PITB and if Little Johnny goes home and complains that the playground supervisor (or the other kids) was picking on him, and wouldn’t let him play the game, then Mom comes to the school and raises a stink about the cruel playground monitor that harasses her kid, or that he’s getting bullied, and there is no way on earth that HER Little Johnny was actually the problem. It’s so much simpler for the wussy principal to make rules that avoid the issue.

  9. Reziac March 30, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    This is exactly the problem with puppies that nip. Nature’s way of halting this is for another puppy, or the mother, to nip back hard enough to get the message across that biting is unacceptable. This is how they learn to “pull their punches” when playing, so no one gets hurt enough to take offense.

    When kids never interact in the random way kids do when left to themselves, they never learn how much force is too much. Kids don’t naturally pull their punches; they have to learn to do so. And how they learn is when another kid smacks them back for being too rough: Don’t hit so hard and you won’t get hit in return. How hard that is has to be learned from experience; your brain and body don’t naturally know that limit.

    We’re depriving kids of experience, then complaining when they act like kids who have no experience.

  10. julie5050 March 30, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

    and….the ridiculous amount of child proofing proofing do so kids rarely even learn that falling down or bumping into a table might hurt a little….

  11. sigh March 30, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    I’ve got four kids, ages 8 – 14. Tag is a whole different game to each one of them, and they each approach and play it differently. Two of them spend half their time in a home where it’s pretty clear physical game-playing isn’t always encouraged or going on, more TV and handhelds than rough and tumble for sure.

    8 year old girl: Highly competitive, reasonably coordinated, small for her age, intense personality in situations where there are “winners and losers.” Has a bit of a trigger around being smallest / youngest so always trying to prove herself and get the upper hand. Tag within our family inevitably ends with her in tears having a tantrum, and one other child hurt because she bit / punched / slapped them too hard. This girl is not encouraged to be particularly physical in her other home. Her older brother is overweight and largely sedentary.

    10-year-old girl: Spiritual, creative, dreamy. Doesn’t mind getting physical, but prefers dancing and theatrical / circus physicality over sports or tag. Takes it in stride if she’s tagged. Not very fast or athletic. Mostly gets put off by youngest child’s tantrums and triggers so doesn’t want to play that kind of game with her anymore and doesn’t seek it out at school. Has an older brother who is hugely physical and athletic, and they spar and tease a lot.

    12-year-old boy: Overweight, sedentary, tries to live up to oldest kid’s athleticism but doesn’t have the drive. In tag, tends to hide out rather than run, because he can’t run fast. Isn’t emotionally volatile, but sometimes doesn’t seem to know his own strength, since he is big. Can’t give the oldest a run for his money, so would rather sit and watch. Is more of a caregiver to his younger sister than someone to spar with, but that is shifting.

    14-year-old boy: no one can catch this kid. Highly competitive, self-assigned a million ways to develop his agility, speed and strength. Lives for competitive team sports. Prefers friends who meet him where he is, who are willing to roll around in the dirt and get bruises, some inflicted by those very friends. High pain threshold. Loves to test his skills. Highly social, knows when to reign it in with friends if not with siblings.

    Myself, I don’t really like tag. Never did. I wasn’t fast, I was always “it.” But I see what it’s done for the oldest child in our family… and I imagine if the youngest had had more of it earlier on, she might have learned to deal with herself better, but who knows.

  12. Austin March 30, 2015 at 1:46 pm #


    If you think this isn’t a problem at all, then I want to raise kids where you live. My wife is a teacher and the kids get hardly any recess time and it is still rather structured. I used to coach fencing, and I saw this exact problem with some of the kids, that they didn’t know their own bodies enough to control them in normal activities, like tag, or other games.

  13. Retro March 30, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    Kids are also much bigger today. They are so much taller and heavier than kid back 40 or even 30 years ago. Go look at your old class pictures. Most of the first and second graders in my son’s class look to be as tall and weigh more than most of the kids in my old fourth grade class.

  14. lollipoplover March 30, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    “We’re depriving kids of experience, then complaining when they act like kids who have no experience.”


    I loved your dog nipping example. We adopted a goofball of a puppy last summer after fostering him first. We were his 4th home. While we didn’t get much info what “went wrong” with homes 1 and 2, but home 3 complained that their much older dog growled at him and was scared of him as he was too rough and energetic. He was also very unhappy and cried all the time to go outside. We took him in and he joined my other 2 high energy dogs. They quickly taught him “pack rules” and they play tug-o-war and run together all day, tails wagging. He was not a problem dog at all. He just was never showed how to play.

  15. ifsogirl March 30, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

    I am so happy my kids school still allows games like tag, dodge ball, and even tetherball. I loved tetherball, tallest kid it the class, even though I must have gotten hit in the head and face dozens if times.

  16. Emily March 30, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    @Warren–I think people (children and adults) should be offered the option of recreational sports with or without contact. My younger brother used to enjoy playing hockey as a child, and he played from ages 8-11. At the time, there were no non-contact hockey leagues, except leagues that were designed specifically for girls (my brother’s hockey league was nominally co-ed, but mostly boys). Anyway, in that league, body-checking started at age twelve. My brother didn’t hit his major growth spurt until he was fourteen or fifteen. Right now, he’s over six feet tall, and weighs more than me, but at twelve, he was small for his age. So, my mom pulled my brother out of hockey, and tried to stamp a smiley face on it with “more time to ski.” However, if there had been a non-contact league, he could have kept playing hockey there, and then transitioned back into contact hockey (since they have summer hockey camps and weekend clinics, et cetera, that teach specific skills, including body checking) after he’d had his growth spurt, or he could have continued with non-contact hockey, because he was never going to be a professional hockey player. That option exists now, but since it didn’t then, my brother’s options were to keep playing hockey, and take his lumps, or stop playing hockey altogether. Interestingly enough, my dad also played in a recreational hockey league for adults, beginning before my brother and I were born, and ending when we were in early elementary school. This hockey league was non-contact (in fact, I think my dad chose it for that reason), so it’s kind of ironic that grown men were given the option to play non-contact hockey, but pubescent children in all stages of growth, weren’t given that same option. Kids who play sports without physical contact still get exercise, make friends, learn about teamwork, develop gross motor co-ordination, and all that other good stuff; they just do it without the contact. If that wasn’t true, then people wouldn’t join, or enroll their kids in, sports that don’t involve physical contact in the first place, like baseball, volleyball, basketball, swimming, dance, et cetera. So, maybe non-contact hockey isn’t exactly the same game as contact hockey, but I think kids still benefit from it.

  17. Maca March 30, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    This is really sad to read since that mean that kids are not playing out of school, maybe they go straight to their gadgets, we should incentivize them more to play games at home with friends, and maybe this could help help them develop sense in their joints.

  18. Donna March 30, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    hineata – Banning tag is very common here in the US. It is banned in at least several of the schools in my school district, and we are not known for banning anything including peanuts. My daughter’s teacher let them play last year, but it may be officially banned in all the schools in the county. She hasn’t talked about tag this year. I have no idea why it was banned or if this article is complete bs, but the banning of tag is common up here.

  19. Warren March 30, 2015 at 3:29 pm #

    Enough already. We cannot accomodate everybody in everything. Tackling and bodychecking are parts of the sports. We cannot have unlimited number of leagues and teams. One their is not enough money, two their is not enough coaches, three their is not enough facilities, four their is not enough sponsors, and the list goes on. Either play the sport or don’t.

    As for the “OldTimers” leagues, I play in one. Why is it non contact? Becaue we are not as young as we use to be, we don’t heal as fast as we use to, we are more prone to injury, and most importantly WE ALL HAVE TO GO TO WORK ON MONDAY. And don’t kid yourself, there is still contact, fighting and all the wonderful parts of hockey. We just get penalties if caught.

    I hate to break it to you but some of the most violent hits I ever took, and gave, were in softball and baseball. Perfectly within the rules, as well.

    Physical contact is a part of pretty much every team sport out there. A lot of it incidental, a lot of it dirty, and a lot of it perfectly legal if not expected. That is life. There is always sports where there is no contact as part of the game for people to play. But like with other things in life, do not expect others to change they want to do things, because you are afraid to get bumped around.

  20. Emily March 30, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    P.S., Just so we’re clear, I’m not in favour of banning tag–if anything, I think that banning tag is going to make contact hockey, football, etc., even more dangerous, because if you ban kids from playing tag from early childhood onward, and then you wait until they turn twelve or fourteen or whatever the magical cut-off age is, and you introduce contact hockey or football, with battering-ram helmets, wooden sticks, and shoes with blades (hockey) or spikes (football), in the hands of kids of varying sizes and strengths, who may not even KNOW their own strength, that’s just a recipe for disaster. So, I think kids should be given the option of playing games with or without contact, both formally and informally, AND I also think that kids who want to play games with physical contact, should be taught how to tag, tackle, check, et cetera, safely.

    Another thing–I think it’s kind of an unfair message to little boys, when they’re forbidden from playing tag, superhero fantasy games, and a lot of other physical activities, at school, camp, daycare et cetera, but they’re still fed a steady diet of violent television and video games, as their parents park them in front of various screens in order to keep them “safe” or “out of trouble.” So, the screens (and, by extension, other little boys who watch the same shows and play the same games) are giving them one message about how do “do masculinity,” but the adults in their lives are giving them the opposite message.

  21. Jessica March 30, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    I can’t help but wonder if this goes along with the previous post about not watching our kids so much. Maybe the kids aren’t any more aggressive than they’ve ever been, but there are more people watching (trying to avoid lawsuits) and instead of the kids correcting each other and learning their limits, the playground monitors are stepping in, breaking things up and/or banning it before the kids can learn. Let’s be real, telling a kid to be careful or to be more gentle is abstract. Getting knocked to the ground by someone pushing too hard when they tag you, that’s what they learn from.

  22. Emily March 30, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    @Warren–As far as I know, there are only the two mainstream, recreational, co-ed hockey leagues in my city; one with contact, and one without. As far as I know, lack of interest, coaches, money, ice time, or infrastructure, has never been a problem–in fact, the non-contact hockey league is just as popular as the traditional one, and both leagues get equal ice time. Also, some kids will start in non-contact hockey and move to contact hockey when they’re bigger, or start in contact hockey and then move to contact hockey if they don’t hit their growth spurt at the same time as their peers, and others will play in one league, and decide to try the other one for a season or two, and then move back. So, it’s not as if playing non-contact hockey for one season means that you (or your child) think that all body-checking is horrible and wrong–it could just mean, “Jimmy is twelve, but he’s small for his age, and a lot of those other twelve-year-olds are man-sized. Let’s wait a year, but have him continue to work on his skating, passing, stick-handling, and shooting, and all those good old-fashioned values that sports teach with or without contact. We can always enroll him in a body-checking clinic when he’s bigger.” That’s a much better option than “Jimmy is twelve, but he’s small for his age, and a lot of those other twelve-year-olds are man-sized. I guess we’ll have to skip hockey this year, but hey, at least he has hockey on his PlayStation.” I know there are other sports, but you grew up in Canada too, so you know as well as I do that winter in Canada revolves around hockey for a LOT of people.

  23. Emily March 30, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    P.S., My brother never went back to hockey, and I’d imagine that a lot of other kids who are pulled from contact hockey just to “wait a year until they grow” never go back either. He also stopped playing a lot of informal sports on the playground at recess around that age; probably because he misinterpreted the message of “we don’t feel safe with you playing contact hockey with guys twice your size” as “you’re no good at hockey, or any other sports.” Like I said, he was never going to be a professional hockey player, but looking back, I still think that not playing hockey ever again, was bad for him. The free time that he used to devote to hockey, gave way to spending hours in front of the TV, and more hours in front of the computer, playing “Worms,” which is a game where teams of cartoon worms hurl nuclear weapons at one another. You can play it online, so your worms can bomb another guy’s worms from halfway around the world. Anyway, my point is, my brother could probably be a poster child for why “hockey with contact, or no hockey at all” once the kids hit the arbitrary age of twelve, is a bad idea.

  24. Havva March 30, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    @Jessica, I was thinking this was tied to the prior post as well. I do think there is something to be said for lack of body awareness. But at the same time, you don’t get much of lack of body awareness without a lack of play and an excess of supervisors stopping the kids from doing ‘aggressive’ things. So these same kids also haven’t had much experience with hitting and being hit and getting yelled at for hitting too hard.

    I remember in my tag days taking pride in being able to hit just hard enough for the contact to be undeniable, and not so hard as to make anyone say ouch. Of course I had hit too hard and too soft before then, otherwise I wouldn’t consider it a hard earned skill to tag just right.

  25. Warren March 30, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    Whatever, go for it.
    Maybe where you live resources are unlimited. Where I grew up, you either played contact or you didn’t play. Where I have coached, it is contact or nothing. That is life where we are.

    And as a coach I have seen kids that started in non contact, and then graduated to contact. They are far behind and at more risk of injury than those that have lived with it.

    Options may be all a part of the problem. Maybe just maybe like with life, you just do it.

  26. hineata March 30, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    @ Austin – please come down, you’d be most welcome. 😊. Kids average about an hour twenty for morning tea and lunch, though about ten minutes of that is making the kids sit down to eat lunch.

    @Donna – that seriously sucks! And I wonder how they manage to stamp it out? I usually have a fairly large field to supervise on playground duty, and inevitably my back will be turned dealing with some trifle when some other kid is bowled over during whatever rough game is currently de riguer. The kids are pretty good at carrying each other to the medical room, and they will generally do anything to avoid a long and boring discussion with me, the adult, about who and what went wrong 😊.

    We definitely have rules, but these are fairly minimal. For goodness sake, what kind of moron thinks running along the top of the playground equipment, 10 feet plus aloft, is a sensible idea? Unfortunately a reasonable proportion of our 9 and 10 year olds seem to be morons, so we do have to spell that one out. Monotonously. Until someone has a compound fracture, and then the playground gets closed for a couple of weeks. And they go back to tag on the field. …where it should be played.

    So life isn’t perfect in Godzone, but tag at least can’t be banned.

  27. Emily March 30, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    @Warren–When I grew up, recreational hockey was also contact or nothing. Maybe it’s not possible to provide a contact league and a non-contact league everywhere; I’m just glad that that option exists here and now, even if it didn’t start in time for my brother to be able to play non-contact hockey. As for kids starting with non-contact hockey, and graduating to contact, that’s how it was for all the kids in the contact hockey league anyway, because contact didn’t start until the age of twelve. If they’d started teaching the kids to body-check safely when they were all five and six years old, and closer to the same size, that probably would have been preferable to teaching them non-contact hockey, and then adding in the body-checking at such an awkward age.

  28. hineata March 30, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

    OTT, but speaking of playground fun, does anyone remember that fun ‘fight’ prank teens used to play on teachers in high school? How it would go in our high school was, every so often there would be a rash of boys fighting each other, and the rest of us would encircle them with linked arms screaming “Fight, fight!”. The male teachers on duty would be there in an instant and have to haul kids apart (in my dad’s day they would punch their way through the crowd, but that seemed to be banned by my day) until they got to the kids inside the circle, by which time their dander was really up.

    Every so often we would make that circle with no one actually fighting in the middle. It was a guaranteed way to see teachers really lose the plot, and treat us to some rare displays of yelling and swearing. I’m sure they wished we still played nothing more innocuous than tag.

    Does that ever happen anymore? I think kids seem to have lost the idea of a fair fight (one between reasonable equals) so maybe not….

  29. Nadine March 30, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

    Warren, I agree with you partially. Sport is partially learning skills but should also be fun. And even in rugby where tackling is important, it’s also risky and prone to injury and as far as I’ve seen, kids will be drilled a lot more on ball skills and team work then actual tackling skills. Not only because there is a chance of bruising the brain but also a kid needs to overcome their fear of pain and learn the skills of tackling befor actually starting to run into eachother. Not just for their own safety but also for the players and friends around them. They need to have an idea of what is save or not. And untill they can kick like Dan Carter and offload like SBW they have plenty of ball and team skills to learn. The most important thing is to have a kid that wants to play, enjoys it and keeps returning to the field and the team with a positive additude. Cause lets face it. Most of us will never be more then amateurs…and then the enjoyment of the sport should be enough. Specially when you win like Scotland.

  30. Warren March 30, 2015 at 6:47 pm #


    I don’t think they would do that anymore, as most fights now are dealt with by police and charges.

  31. Emily March 30, 2015 at 7:27 pm #


    I don’t think they would do that anymore, as most fights now are dealt with by police and charges.<<

    @Warren–An actual fight might be dealt with by police and charges, but a group of kids standing in a circle and yelling "Fight, fight, fight" with nobody actually fighting? Maybe that prank is dumb and juvenile, but it's not against the law to stand in a circle and yell.

  32. hineata March 30, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    Darn it, Warren, you’re probably right. Teachers can’t often discipline anything more complex than answering back these days.

    Even in Godzone, if you’re rich and over privileged, you can get the High Court to overturn a school’s disciplinary procedures, that you yourself countersigned.


    In this case, fortunately, natural justice ruled and the wee darlings missed out on national trials anyway, as well as the parents becoming a national laughing stock/disgrace, but what a load of codswallop. Discipline by teachers and schools looks almost set to become a thing of the past.

    No wonder kids aren’t allowed to play tag….it’s a slippery slope to delinquency, if we aren’t then allowed to tell them off for breaches of the rules 😕

  33. Echo March 30, 2015 at 8:27 pm #

    it my day it was dodge ball. whew! taking some of the hits from what was suppose to be a soft air filled rubber balls could actually be painful. but tag? same ball was used for kickball.

    playing tag can easily be done with hankies hanging out of pockets or waistbands. that is if the ‘waistband’ are actually at the waist and the pants aren’t so loose and baggy that the kids can still run.

    some of the nastiest hits and injuries i got from school was from field hockey. gods i hated playing that!

    the build up of aggression and not being able to sit still? taking P.E. out of schools hasn’t helped. and Recess? do any schools still do recess??? Recess gets them out of their chairs and out of the classrooms to let them burn off some energy.

  34. Lisa @ Four Under Six March 31, 2015 at 12:28 am #

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. We’ve deviated from thousands of years of human development in like 100 years. I can’t imagine why we’re seeing negative effects on behavior. :/

  35. sexhysteria March 31, 2015 at 2:39 am #

    Part of the problem is that many kids today are deprived of skin contact. They aren’t allowed to cuddle or express physical affection with each other (sexual abuse!), so they are desperate for contact and exaggerate with force. A great way to teach kids gentle contact is through massage. Here’s a good video about child massage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ux4AQsXwK8o The audio isn’t in English, but it’s good for adults and kids to watch. I recently produced a short video in English on “Buddy Massage” to teach kids how to massage each other: http://www.GirlBecomesWoman.com

  36. Crystal March 31, 2015 at 9:30 am #

    This is a prime reason why we encourage so much rough-housing with our kids. You learn what is and isn’t appropriate, and how to control your body.

  37. SKL March 31, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    I’m not sure if it’s because kids are hitting harder, or because kids are less able to deal with being hit.

    When I was a kid, there were kids who “tagged” like they were supposed to, but there were also kids who outright hit, and not because they were trying to hurt (though some were doing that too). I am not sure it’s a new phenomenon.

    Interestingly, I’ve seen organized dodgeball being introduced as a kiddy sport around here. I had thought it was going extinct. Personally I hated dodgeball. Just pure mindless striving and violence in my view. 😛

    But as for kids being able to sit still in school, I understand that many kids are not developing “core strength” any more, and therefore it is physically hard for them to sit in a schoolwork posture for any period of time. Of course the way schools deal with this is by keeping them in for recess and giving them more homework etc. :/ At the other end of the spectrum, this might be why kids who are active/athletic outside of school are often among the high achievers in school.

  38. SKL March 31, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    A couple of people mentioned roughhousing.

    This is a debate in my house. Growing up, we roughhoused. I feel like roughhousing (up to a point) is good for my kids. (They are 8yo girls.) Another person living here thinks it is the cause of everything my kids do wrong (such as the bad restaurant manners they exhibited last week).

    What do FRK folks think?

  39. Art March 31, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    To all,

    As a heads up, DO NOT access sexyhysteria’s links at work. There’s a rather unexpected image on the right hand that might leave IT wondering WTH was that?

    Other words, it’s Not Safe for Work. (NSFW)

  40. hineata March 31, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    @SKL- were they rough-housing on the restaurant floor? Otherwise I can’t really see the connection 😊.

    If it was a quiet restaurant and they were being rowdy, try a Chinese one next time. They’re usually so noisy no one notices loud kids, and anyway they mostly welcome children.

  41. hineata March 31, 2015 at 3:16 pm #

    @Art – personally, and that’s just me (wow, note to self, isn’t that what personally means?😊) I wouldn’t access anything hysteria suggests. He/she appears to have an agenda linked to the name…that again in my opinion has nothing to do with free-ranging kids.

    @SKL, please carry on rough-housing….so much fun for kids 😊. I wish we could do more of it at school, though I’m happy to say that especially on the grass area, no one really worries about kids play fighting. If it’s not damaging the Ming vase or the Elizabethan chair, then what’s the worry? 😊

  42. Art March 31, 2015 at 3:34 pm #


    Thanks for the heads up. I haven’t been away from this site for while and didn’t recognize the name.

  43. SKL March 31, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    Hineata, no, actually my kids know how to act in a restaurant but they were just being brats that day. No roughhousing involved. But basically acting like they might have been born in a barn. It was a loud, chaotic restaurant, which probably didn’t help matters.

    I feel roughhousing is good because it’s all about human touch, first of all. Secondly because it’s about trust and yes, even boundaries.

    My kids do get some “acceptable contact” in sports like TKD and soccer. I would sign them up for wrestling if it was a girl sport around here. Wrestling seems like a great sport for kids.

  44. Jill April 1, 2015 at 7:45 am #

    The child in the illustration is blindfolded. I must have been playing tag wrong all those years ago.
    Unless it’s intended to portray the game of Blind Man’s Bluff, which was probably been banned from school playgrounds long ago on the grounds that the name is insensitive to visually impaired people. Kids aren’t told to sit “Indian-style” anymore because it’s racist. Now they sit “Criss-cross Applesauce” which just sounds stupid.

  45. Papilio April 1, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

    @Jill: We call it, literally translated, ‘tailor’s sit’. Should I worry about that being insensitive to tailors now? 😛

  46. Emily April 1, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

    @Jill–I remember playing Blind Man’s Bluff at day camp, but not so much at school. It wasn’t really done as a recess game, because it wasn’t the safest game, and also because none of us thought to bring blindfolds to school, and just closing eyes has a lot of potential for cheating. As for “Indian style” versus “Criss Cross Applesauce,” I never heard either of those terms in school, day camp, or any other kid-oriented place I went to during my youth–it was always just “sit cross-legged.”

  47. Sarah J April 1, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    I think Wendy W is correct on this one. I’m willing to bet that most of the time, the issue is just one or a few kids, and schools would rather not deal with things individually so they ban tag altogether. Like Wendy W says, a mom might raise a huge fuss over her kid getting shoved, but also, say the school no longer allowed the overly aggressive kids to play tag. The parents of those kids would probably accuse the school of leaving their little angels out. Because of parents, it can be very difficult for schools to discipline kids these days, which is probably one reason a lot of schools now have zero tolerance policies for everything. It’s just less hassle. A comparison would be, say you’re running an activity center, or a zoo, or a children’s museum. You want to put in a playground, and you have this cool design and it’s safe and stuff. But your insurance tells you that they’ll have to charge you a lot more if you put in this playground. Even though severe playground injuries are quite rare (even back when they were less safe, such injuries were still usually just freak accidents) it’s more hassle for you, and if one bad thing happens, it’s a huge deal. So you just don’t bother.

    Schools today don’t want to bother, and honestly, I can’t entirely blame them. My parents are public school teachers and they get the most ridiculous calls from parents of their students. For years, my mom taught at a high school, a class for students who dropped out and are returning to get their diploma. Most of these students had issues with drugs, teen pregnancy, family problems, etc. She recently got a job teaching a regular class at a different school, and was bewildered when some parents called to ask why their daughter got a 95 on an assignment instead of a 100. This stuff is the main reason I’d never want to be a teacher.

  48. hineata April 3, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

    Thanks Steve and Warren. ..sounds like I’ll have to let both bear and moose be. A shame…