The use of aggressive toys has always been a very controversial topic in the field of play therapy. There are those that are for the use of aggressive toys, those against the use of aggressive toys, and those in between. In this post, I’ll be exploring the sides of the controversy and discuss how I personally use aggressive toys as a play therapist.
Firstly, I think it’s important to define “aggressive toys.” Aggressive toys can include:
- Bop bag
- Toy soldiers
- Pretend guns
- Foam swords
- Rubber knives
- Scary puppets and and animals, such as alligators or dinosaurs
Some therapists believe that aggressive toys should be excluded from the play room due to them encouraging aggression outside of the therapeutic space. This is a valid point in that there is research that associates the observation of violence in the media and the community with an increase in aggressive behavior.
Others believe that the aggressive toys assist the child in releasing their pent up anger, sadness, or other difficult feelings. It is believed that the play room gives the child a safe place to release this anger. It is also believed that children understand the disconnect between the play room and the real world, limiting the risk of bringing the aggression outside of therapy.
I personally use aggressive toys in my work as a play therapist. I have found that children with a history of trauma and that exhibit disruptive or aggressive behavior are drawn to the aggressive toys. I have seen the aggressive toys assist in the child communication through play in therapy and have not seen the aggression translate outside of the playroom.
That being said, if I did not have the aggressive toy, I personally believe that children will create what they need. With imagination, children can turn a simple wooden block into a weapon if there aren’t any aggressive toys for them to use otherwise.
What are your thoughts on aggressive toys in the play room? Do you personally use aggressive toys in your work with children?
Until next time, play on!