Play and Exploration in Children and Animals

By Thomas G. Power | Go to book overview

7
Locomotor Play in Children

Young children love to run, and do so in many of their games, such as tag and hide-and-go-seek. Running also is found in other forms of outdoor play, even when children are not playing a specific "game" -- be it running to the swingset, running to the corner, or skipping and hopping on the sidewalk. Much to the frustration of parents, children often bring these outside activities indoors and run up the stairs, chase one another around the house, or jump on a bed.

Descriptive studies of locomotor play in humans are hard to find. In a commentary on Pellegrini and Smith's ( 1998) recent review of this literature, Byers ( 1998) wrote: "I find it incredible that there are no complete accounts of the rates at which play motor acts are performed across human postnatal development, and I hope that the Pellegrini & Smith review will prompt a lot of this important descriptive work" (p. 599).

The few studies that have been done, however, suggest that human locomotor play is in many ways similar to that of other animals (e.g., Aldis, 1975; Blurton-Jones, 1967). As already mentioned, one of the limitations of the research on children's locomotor play is that chasing play is often coded as part of rough-and-tumble play, with no differentiation in the research between play-chasing and play-fighting.

As with other animals, it is likely that the development of running ability was selected for in human evolution because it facilitated both escape from predators and capture of prey. Descriptions of its structure (see later discussion in this chapter) indicate that locomotor play is made up of some of the same components as serious flight and pursuit. It is also likely that locomotor play has some of the same risks for humans as for other animals, including eliciting aggression, sustaining injury, alerting predators, becoming separated from the caregiver, and using up time and energy.

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Play and Exploration in Children and Animals
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • I - Solitary Object Exploration and Play 15
  • 3 Solitary Object Exploration and Play in Children 55
  • II - Physical Activity Play 109
  • 4 - Play-Fighting in Animals 111
  • 5 - Play-Fighting in Children 163
  • 6 - Locomotor Play in Animals 191
  • 7 - Locomotor Play in Children 203
  • III - Social Object, Social Pretend, and Parent-Child Play 213
  • 8 - Social Object and Sociodramatic Play in Children 215
  • 9 - Parent-Child Play 295
  • 10 - Conclusions 389
  • References 397
  • Author Index 475
  • Subject Index 495
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