So my 26 mo adores his older cousins, especially his 13 and 11 years cousins. They love to wrestle, hide and chase, dance like crazy, and play with swords and squirt guns. DS thinks they are the most amazing people in the world and now feels the same way about fake guns he sees them play with. We didn't have any play guns in the house but he started grabbing toys (kitchen utensils, the unplugged glue gun) and playing squirting games with them a couple months ago. For a while he dragged that dang glue gun everywhere until I hid it!
At this point, DH and I are at a loss about how to deal with the gun love. We live in a wooded area with deer and do hear hunting happening in the distance at times. We explain this as people shooting deer, squirrel, and raccoons for food to eat. Also, my sister owns a farm and we buy chicken, pork, and such from her. So DS knows (or is being taught) that some animals are for food. I want him to know that though WE don't use them, for some people including our extended family, guns are important for survival.
How the heck do I deal with this? He found a squirt gun in the garage and loves it (w/o water in it thankfully!). He'll point it at all of us and yell "squirt!" in delight and want us to chase him.
Do we tell him to NOT point guns at people? Only at feet? Or animals? In which case would he "hunt" our indoor pets? Do I apply this rule to his cousins? I'm at a loss!!! What do you do??? My goals are to teach DS NOT touch real guns of course, to allow him to play happily and freely, and to teach him violence is wrong.
BTW, DS understands death as it applies to worms and insects that he accidentally kills but doesn't seem to be able to get far beyond that.
Me: Sarah, married to: J, mommy to: C (8/10) and E (11/12)
"Gun play" seems to be an almost universal obsession with boys. I don't think there's any point in trying to forbid it entirely, so you might accept that it will happen and will be alluring be to kids no matter how distasteful it may be to adults.
Consider it a good teaching opportunity to reinforce the things you think are important.
Assuming he has no access to any real guns or other weapons (either at home, or outside the home), it's still worthwhile to assume he *COULD* have access at some point in the future, and do the gun safety talk from time to time. You can continue to reinforce your norms: guns are tools, not toys; don't point them at people (because it's dangerous), and stick to your basic message that violence is unacceptable (which given the nature of our society, plenty of opportunities exist to discuss that notion). At 26 months, it's very unlikely that he understands the concept of death, but you can revisit that when he's older.
I personally grew up around guns/hunting, but we were taught from a very early age that guns were NOT toys--so we never had toy guns to play with. We were never allowed to play with real guns, either, but once we got old enough, we were allowed to use them for supervised target practice occasionally. (we grew up with the ethic "don't shoot at it unless you're planning on eating it yourself"). I was in situations as a child where adult supervision was absent and I was in the company of others who wanted to do unsafe things with guns, and given the kind of training we had at home about gun safety (and appropriate uses), I never was tempted to play with guns or use them inappropriately.
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