The Benefits of Aggressive Play

Is aggressive play or roughhousing something that models and facilitates violent behavior or are there benefits and if so, what are those benefits? A recently story on NPR summarizes some of the research that highlights the potential benefits of roughhousing , even forms that involve pretend violence.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/06/25/325218402/what-kids-can-learn-from-a-water-balloon-fight

I found the reported potential benefits of roughhousing fascinating. To get a more comprehensive list you will have to read the article and the literature but two that really got me thinking where that aggressive play and roughhousing (1) helps children learn how to resolve conflicts and regulate aggressive impulses and (2) is associated with higher first-grade academic achievement in kindergarteners.

My understanding of what might be driving some of the benefits of aggressive play (synthesized from the article) is that it creates an environment where children have to navigate complex, dynamic, and fast moving and conflict ridden social situations while regulating their own emotions.  It makes sense to me that there might be many benefits from this.

The question is where is the line (or is there a line) where this type of play, especially pretend violence, might facilitate more violent behavior in real life?

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