Children are more likely to introduce violent themes into their pretend play, such as imaginary fighting or killing, if they are with playmates whom peers consider bad-tempered, new research suggests.
Academics from the University of Cambridge believe that the tendency for children to introduce aggressive themes in these situations — which seems to happen whether or not they are personally easy to anger — may be because they are ‘rehearsing’ strategies to cope with hot-headed friends.
The finding comes from an observational study of more than 100 children at a school in China, who were asked to play with toys in pairs. Children whose play partners were considered bad-tempered by their peers were 45% more likely to introduce aggressive themes into their pretend play than those whose partners were reckoned to be better at controlling their temper.
Importantly, however, a child’s own temperament did not predict the level of make-believe