My 3yo is OBSESSED with shooting and guns. He doesn't watch shooting or guns on TV, and doesn't have any gun toys, but he turns everything into a gun, from a gardening glove to the soccer ball on His tshirt. He learned about them when he went to preschool for a few months last year. He had nightmares at the time about a certain boy at school shooting Mommy. So, I wonder if this obsession is him working out his fear of guns. I've tried ignoring the shooting and guns, but he started shooting me & his dad & sister when he got mad at us. So, I set the limit that he can shoot trees, toys, walls, etc but not people. That only made him shoot us all the more. Should I embrace this obsession? Should we play shooting games with him? Is not shooting people an appropriate limit? How do I enforce this limit, its not like he's always holding a toy I can put away until later, it's his hands! Help!
3yo OBSESSED with guns
We always told our nephew that when you shoot people they are dead and dead people can't play. Then, we'd walk away and do our own thing and eventually he figured out that if he wanted to play with us he had to come up with some other games. It didn't eliminate gun play, but it directed it in directions that felt more appropriate (altho' we weren't thrilled about any gun play).
This sounds just like my just turned 4 yo! He shoots when he gets mad, learned it at preschool. Does it to everyone when he's mad-- the worst part is that he has taught my 18 month old to do it too!!! So now they both do it when they're mad. It's been going on for a couple of months now. I can't get him to stop. I told him the same thing about not shooting people, etc. I've seen that what seems to work best is when I pretend that he's actually 'shooting' kisses....I say something like, "awww, is that your kissing gun?" Thanks for giving me kisses.... sometimes this works because he smiles....but not always.
He gets really mad when his little brother does it....I try to explain that his brother is doing it because he is copying him.... that he should try to teach him to blow kisses instead.
I give him other options to do when he's mad that are acceptable---(take a breath, use words, take a break, etc....) but I'm not having much success.
Please keep me posted...or if anyone else has ideas??
At age 3/4/5 we allowed "shooting" at imaginary targets and imaginary monster/aliens only (obviously I couldn't control what he did at school, but that was the rule in our house). No pretend shooting at real or imaginary humans, no pretend shooting at real or imaginary animals, period. No toy guns at that age, at all. He could use sticks, tinkertoys, whatever other thing he wanted to put in his hand. All pretend. As he got older, we had more talks about what shooting really means, why people do it (hunting vs target vs law enforcement/military vs criminal - using our own set of values), and how permanent it is. He got a Star Wars "blaster" when he was 6, I think - didn't look anything like a real weapon, very cartoonized. Still no pointing at actual people or animals, but plenty of pretend play enacting galactic battles with imaginary foes. His play evolved over that time period as he grappled with learning about harm and death. We still won't allow toys that look like actual guns, and never will - even our summertime water cannons bear no resemblance to real guns. Now at 8-1/2, friends his age and he all consent to "cops and robbers" kind of games where they "shoot" at each other, but I only allow it if everyone is in on it and agrees, and they have to use non-gun-resembling items, or their hands as pretend. DS has said flat out that he knows it's totally pretend and they all know it's pretend because they all get up and play again, and you can't do that in real life if you get shot. We have a few foam dart guns that bear no resemblance to a real gun but hardly ever use them - and we spend as many times with them target shooting or shooting darts across the room for cats to chase as we do playing games of "dart tag" with them with each other.
As a frame of reference: I have gone target shooting probably 4 or 5 times in my life. Have gone paintballing once, and would love to try laser tag some time. I personally see a huge divide between those activities and shooting an actual gun with the intent to harm a person or animal. As my kids get older, I work with them to help them see the difference, and until they're able to see the difference, we put restrictions on them in accordance with our values.
Ooh - as for the "how", I would just redirect with "the rule", just as I did any other thing he was doing that he wasn't supposed to. "Nope, not OK - only imaginary monsters or targets" - and I would do *that* with him sometimes, to show him I got that he had the need, and was OK with those limitations. Just redirect, redirect, redirect. I wouldn't get too much into the "whys" of the rule a ton at this age every time, because it makes it more of a forbidden fruit when it's a SUPER SERIOUS THING every time, you know?
Since this thread is from July, how are things going? We have a 14mo DD who is quite the tomboy already and I suspect will be more likely to play cops and robbers than with dolls (I was certainly that way as a child), but we are also a household that owns guns and hunts and goes to the range for target shooting and she will, interesed or not, learn the ins and outs of guns and how to use them safely once she's old enough. I feel it's more important that she know how to act appropriately with them than to ban gun play alltogether. Like the4ofus pointed out, you don't want it to become so bad that it's more tempting.