Tag is a fantastic game for kids. There is no clear winner or loser and it plays in an endless loop. It’s a hallmark of Horse Boy and Movement Method work.
Like all things in this work, our kids show us the next steps and many years ago, we added a feature to tag we call “New Rule.”
“New Rule” means that when you are tagged and you are “it” you have the chance to make a rule that everyone must follow.
Why is this important?
Because you put a disempowered child in power.
Naturally, he will abuse it. His new rule usually involves something humiliating for everyone else. You MUST follow that rule - with joy and playful curiosity.
Soon, you or your staff is tagged and you have the chance to make a new rule. You make a kind one - or a generous one, - or you concede your chance and give the disempowered child to suggest a rule again. Maybe your manufacture a rule where everyone does something ridiculous together. You can give choices too. Each turn is played with laughter and tickles and fall on the ground laughing.
Naturally, one child will rarely get tagged. She’s too shy or too slow, and you bring her into the game (you have modeled inclusiveness). One child is terrified of the energy and your next rule says that everyone must whisper and run in slow motion (you model sensitivity). Within minutes, you have created a culture where power is wielded with kindness and sweetness and real inclusivity. Nuanced social skills are being modeled and natural reinforcement of kind behavior blooms without the taint of artificiality. If your child continues to be a tyrant in his rules - you follow them to the letter (you relieve the grip of shame and anger and very soon, he learns to make and have friends).
Earlier this month, our group posted articles that showed that the game of tag is being outlawed on school campus’. It’s a reactionary approach. And worse yet, it’s a lost opportunity to model kindness and peaceful exchange of power and a chance to move and express ourselves in a way that is healthy for our bodies, for our senses and for our sense of self.
Yesterday, a child with a history of violence was brought into the game. The child with no school placement because of his acting out, a child diagnosed with social skills so low his family couldn’t eat in restaurants for years invited others into the game, made rules that were sweet and funny, recognized a child who wasn’t participating because she didn’t understand the game (a very complex social cue) and made special rules for her. When he stumped us with Pokemon trivia, he gently whispered clues to us. I can’t imagine a more successful day. He got more exercise than he normally gets with all the running and tagging and he was able to regulate in his transitions smoothly for the rest of the playdate.
By modeling a culture of delight, movement and sweetness - we got all we bargained for - and more.
...I love this "Rule" idea! I also noticed that if you make it "Freeze Tag" where tagged kiddos freeze but can be saved by others crawling underneath them, it builds team spirit. If you have a couple taggers there is really no winner or loser, but just lots of laughter and helping each other. When the taggers get to tired, others can just take over. Best team building exercise!
Your modeling is hugely important. I feel often as adults we don't show sweetness and presenting compliments- so where do kiddos learn it from? Great way to bring it into their lives! Thanks for sharing. I will be using this and experiment with how my class of 24 will react to it.
I love this way to play Tag, empowering children and giving them the freedom to choose any rule they like! I think it is a way to respect their need to be heard and recognized as thinking people themselves as well. Thanks for sharing this.