Can we talk about 'gun' play? - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-09-2009, 01:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 18 mo old DS and I were at the park earlier today. A boy about 3 walked up and started showing me this stick he found and how it was his gun, showed me where the bullets came out of. I said that's nice...sarcastically, and tried to change the subject. Then he mentioned that he also used it to cut people in half..and began making shooting noises. His mom sat close by but didn't seem to care at all.

DS just looked at me all confused. It was such an awkward situation...I thought we were so far away from having to deal with this stuff but this boy was SO young and already knew what a gun was and how to use it. It just got me thinking...

How many of you let your kids play 'guns'? if you are not comfortable with it, how do you go about letting your child play with another boy who thinks its an OK game to play? Do you refuse to let them play with that child?
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Old 09-09-2009, 01:46 AM
 
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My 3yo plays "guns". He started it after my DH let him watch a Batman cartoon. I let him play. He got a toy gun at garage sale. When he pretends to shoot us or his brother I put it up. I babysit a little boy who doesn't play guns and my son understands this. It is not a huge deal to me. I also let him play swards. When he is pretending to kill someone or something he calls it "breaking" them, he ot that from watching my DH play lego star wars video game.
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Old 09-09-2009, 01:56 AM
 
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My oldest didn't do it until 4ish. It was kind of a phase for him, though I know gun play is normal for kids of all ages. Perhaps the boy at the park has an older sibling. My almost 3 year old knows about guns from his brother. It's harmless and developmentally normal. I don't encourage it but I don't freak out about it (which would make it more enticing.) They are waaay more into swords than guns though.
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Old 09-09-2009, 02:14 AM
 
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Let? Let? like I have that kind of control over my kids play?!? Especially when they started school and playing with other children, all bets were off.

We have rules about where gun play is allowed - not in church, for example and not at school.We also have rules about not shooting people you don't know.

But I gave up trying to stop all gun play when I realized all that was happening was constant fighting and them hiding it.

And we do not have ANY toy guns - not even water guns - in the house (unless you count lego star wars guns which are teeny tiny).

Trust me, I really don't like the gun games, but to shut it down completely would require a level of authoritarian intervention that is completely at odds with my parenting philosophy... I'd love some tips on channeling or decreasing it...

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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Old 09-09-2009, 02:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by nikkiethridge View Post
How many of you let your kids play 'guns'? if you are not comfortable with it, how do you go about letting your child play with another boy who thinks its an OK game to play? Do you refuse to let them play with that child?
My daughter had these introduced to her by a relative that is YOUNGER than your son. I find it horrible.

I told her that guns are for hunting so we can get food to eat. We don't point them at people because people would stop living and then how could we be friends with them?

I cannot stop my child from playing with her only cousin on my side of the family. I cannot estrange myself from my only sister, no way.

In that situation, I let her son do what he wants. (She is somewhat in denial, thinks it's cute but disapproves of her DH's attitude towards guns... he has a collection, used only for hunting, but he has them all over and is always watching gun stuff in front of his kid, and not hunting gun stuff, but gratuitous never-gonna-happen "self-defense" stuff, anyway...) But if anyone points a gun at me, I get really sad and say, "I'm so sad. Do you want to hurt me?"

I don't want to make the 16-month-old cry or anything, just to stop him from pointing a freaking toy "gun" in my face. So I don't overdo it.

Then there are the Star-Wars guns that my cousin's kids use. Those kids are much older and were introduced to SW by their dad against mom's proscription. : They are allowed to play with light sabers but do not have any toy guns, not even squirt guns. They make their own.

Overall, I really just try to communicate my values to my child and hope she gets it. I have no problem with guns but I have a HUGE problem with gratuitous violence and gun "play". That's laughing at the pain of others and it's not okay.

I agree with the other posters that there is not a lot you can do. My aunt did not allow guns in her home. I swear her kids could make a toy gun from a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich on white bread. They had guns made from sticks and hairties they found in parking lots. She took them away. I mean it just never ended. Once they have friends, if those friends have toy guns or even imaginary guns, it is hard to keep them from playing that.

Distraction ("Guns are for hunting, let's play hunter...") and gentle disapproval ("That makes me sad, because it would really hurt to get shot!") are really all you can do.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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Old 09-09-2009, 02:45 AM
 
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My ds2 is almost 4, and he and every single one of his male counterparts have been exploring gun play for almost a year now. None of us have toy guns in our homes, either.

I think that it's important to remember that these kids are experimenting with some big themes such as good vs. bad, etc. I know that my son has long been *very* interested in stories that have "bad" characters in them, such as the Big Bag Wolf in fairy tales, or even the fox in the Tomten story. I think these characters (and gun play) interest him so much right now because he is very aware of feeling small and less powerful than those around him.

I would highly suggest reading the book "Playful Parenting." The author has some very interesting things to say about why aggressive play is developmentally appropriate and how to help your child manage it.

A happy woman
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Old 09-09-2009, 02:51 AM
 
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I have actually mellowed out allot as my boys have grown. The older ones are 8 and 10 now and I was mortified by gun play when they were very small. Some examples of my road to surrender:

A gun shape chewed from a piece of cheese at 3 years old

At a "Peace" march with my kids the news team is interviewing me and the 4 year old runs up with a stick screaming "mom, hold my gun!"

6 year old telling me when I was very angry at their dad for buying them little toy army tanks "relax mom, it's just a toy, it's not like I'm voting for George Bush"

So, I've relaxed. Still no toy guns in the house but we have had a sword or 2. We also have "weapon free" zones - school, inside the house, public, etc. But I definately found the more I tried to restrict it/shelter them the more appealing it got.
Good luck
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Old 09-09-2009, 02:53 AM
 
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1.) He may have *appeared* to understand guns and what they do, but that is not a given. 3 yr olds do not really have the idea of death, they are not masters of empathy. So, he may have been describing it, but had not really interalized it.

2.) Often, 'gun play" is similar to "tag". They make noises and run after eachother. Again, "gun but not gun".

3.) There is attraction in the illicit, the games of older kids, "death" and power. All of which come into play with toy guns. Banning this type of play would not address these issues. These are big issues which come into the lives of pre-schoolers. And play is how they turn the ideas around in their imaginations.

4.) Gun play does not always corespond to lots of exposure. At 3, my ds1 had never been to daycare. He goes to a sweet little hippie montessori school where they bake bread and do yoga. We don't have a tv. His favorite book is Winnie-the-Pooh. This kid has had NO exposure to violence and is extremly media limited. A neighbor was playing with a light up squirt gun, they started playing. Then, for a while, EVERYTHING was a gun.

5.) Sometimes the best parenting strategy is to let it pass without playing it up or dressing them down. When ds was doing the gun thing, I'd just kind of nod, say "I see...". Sometimes, I'd be silly and say "Instead of fire, what if it made bubbles?" he'd laugh and roll with that idea (another indication that he had not interalized it). We don't buy guns (no toy guns at all), but if he makes them from sticks... well, there is something to "play through" there, huh? I figure it is a reasonable compromise.

6.) It is important for us as parents to remember that play is not real. What and how kids play is a safe way for them to think about things, try on ideas and learn consequences. When my son was in the "gun" phase, we were watching a skydiving video on youtube (his uncle went skydiving). At the end, there was a "made by _____" credit and a picture of a chimp photoshopped with a gun. The picture of a real gun scared my son. Deeply. Yet, he still played guns afterward. HIS gun was pretend, he knew it would not really hurt anyone and that a REAL gun is a very different thing. He patiently explained to me that "Mommy, my gun isn't really real... You don't have to be afraid. I'm going to shoot you with fire!"

7.) It passes.

And, I can't seem to stop myself. And I mean no disrespect. But your signature says your son's name is Cannon? I guess guns and weaponry are very deeply ingrained in our culture- so much that we don't always even see and recognize in what ways they enter our lives. It is not surprising that kids pick up on this cultural buzz.
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Old 09-09-2009, 03:54 AM
 
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And, as a nanny, I'd have to say the OVERWHELMING majority of preschoolers are gun (and light saber) crazed. It's rare to find a kid that age who isn't exploring guns. I knew a boy who liked dressing up as princesses and who's "gun" was a couple of popsicle sticks side by side decorated with pink and yellow feathers and sparkles.
I totally agree with pp's when they say pretend play is how children work out big issues. Peek-a-boo is a way of safely exploring feelings separation from parents/loved ones and the permanence/impermanence of objects.
My sister and I used to play "orphan," "runaway," and "homeless kid's living in boxes." Before guns, kids played swords. Before that, kids re-enacted the hunt.
Kids this age have no real concept of death, of violence, of evil. Pretend play is how they begin to cope with these big issues.

If you make a concept like this taboo, you're just creating a forbidden fruit. Also, you'd have to keep your kid locked in a box until he was 20 or so to avoid the outside influences of "gun mania." I think you'd do better to impart your good values and model like crazy, but not restricting his safe play. And not making a big deal out of it.
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Old 09-09-2009, 04:17 AM
 
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A stick as a gun I wouldn't really mind, even that young. Its a natural way of exploring. However, I don't like the realistic looking play guns I see in stores. In my opinion (coming from a background of growing up surrounded by police and probation officers thanks to my Dad's job) realistic looking play guns are dangerous. I, also, think its important to sit down and discuss the proper handing of guns and what happens when they are mishandled if you have guns in your house. I don't remember if/when my brothers and I played guns but I do remember as early as 4/5 years old my father teaching us gun safety.

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Old 09-09-2009, 10:21 AM
 
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I had to laugh at this (not AT you) because I was soooo just like you when my DS was that age lol. I was horrified at gun play and looked on in horror at parents who allowed it. My DS is nearly 6 now and is not gun obsessed but will make things up to be guns and "shooters" - his word (ie legos). I HATE HATE HATE guns. My DH used to be a cop so we do have them in the house but my kids have never seen them. In fact the first my son ever saw a gun was, I'm not kidding, in MOTHERING MAGAZINE! They had an article a few years ago about gun play and my DS was browsing the magazine and asked me what the toy men were holding. I had to explain what they were and from there the interest took off. sigh. Thanks a lot Mothering! lol.
Anyway, I can almost 100% guarantee you that your sweet little boy will be doing the exact same thing when he is that age or a bit older. You will probably stop fighting just like that poor other mom did because you will know that it will be like trying to hold back the tide and who has the energy for that? lol If you don't make a big deal of it it will pass and be very mild. Good luck mama! ((hugs))


BTW I should also mention that even at the ripe old age of nearly 6 my DS still doesn't quite grasp the concept of death or dying. He knows what it is of course but I don't think it has really "sunk in" about the whole apect of death. He is still too young yet for that concept so don't be too worried if he should play along those lines.
Also, most of our DH's played with guns as children I'm sure (at least for those of us who are older than 30 lol) and they turned out good enough to marry lol ;-)
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Originally Posted by nikkiethridge View Post
My 18 mo old DS and I were at the park earlier today. A boy about 3 walked up and started showing me this stick he found and how it was his gun, showed me where the bullets came out of. I said that's nice...sarcastically, and tried to change the subject. Then he mentioned that he also used it to cut people in half..and began making shooting noises. His mom sat close by but didn't seem to care at all.

DS just looked at me all confused. It was such an awkward situation...I thought we were so far away from having to deal with this stuff but this boy was SO young and already knew what a gun was and how to use it. It just got me thinking...

How many of you let your kids play 'guns'? if you are not comfortable with it, how do you go about letting your child play with another boy who thinks its an OK game to play? Do you refuse to let them play with that child?
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Old 09-09-2009, 10:38 AM
 
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At a "Peace" march with my kids the news team is interviewing me and the 4 year old runs up with a stick screaming "mom, hold my gun!"

6 year old telling me when I was very angry at their dad for buying them little toy army tanks "relax mom, it's just a toy, it's not like I'm voting for George Bush"
:

We don't allow actual toy guns, because we don't want to promote the idea that guns are toys. But I agree with Siobahng, who said that shutting down any and all pretend play involving guns would run counter to the way I want to parent. So our main rule for gun play is that he needs to make sure that everyone in the game has been asked if they want to play. That way everyone has a chance to refuse if they don't feel comfortable with it.
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Old 09-09-2009, 10:46 AM
 
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I was and still am a bit uncomfortable with gun play but a wise mother said to me "you can try, but they'll probably still just chew their toast into a gun shape."

For myself I considered how much play is disaster based - car crashes, train wrecks, wolves in the forest, "bad" babies, and so on. I think this is pretty natural overall and in our modern day culture guns do represent power and the use thereof.

We have a few rules - the "you have to ask before you play guns with someone" and "don't point your gun at people" - the last of which is not really working out for us, but I think seeing my genuine reaction is helpful too.

We also recently went to a fair where they had a fire station exhibit with real firemen and they were playing "spin the roulette wheel to get a safety lecture" and firearms safety came up and my son was told the rule was if you find a gun you do not touch it and run and get an adult. I was glad for that; it made quite an impression. (We don't live in an especially gun heavy area, but you never know.)

I love the section in Playful Parenting about gun play.

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Old 09-09-2009, 10:54 AM
 
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My boys are 5 and 3.5. Guns have definately come up in our family, too, mostly from my brother's little boy who mostly lives with his mother. That family bought this kid a moving, sound-blaring tank that plays (get this) "The Flight of the Valkyries" when it's turned on (hey, at least he's getting exposure to classical music???) for his first birthday.

I tell my guys that sometimes people use guns as tools to do things like get meat for eating, but that MOSTLY guns are another way of using your fists instead of your words to resolve a problem. In our family, we believe in using our words, and they know this. They have pretty easily extended the 'no hitting' rule to apply to any weaponry play.

So, I guess what is important to me is more that they understand WHY gun-play can be negative more than I wish to somehow make sure they never do it.....they do engage in weaponry play from time-to-time with kids at the playground or with their cousin, but we always have a talk about it afterward, and both of them seem pretty comfortable telling other kids that 'we don't play like that' if they feel that the game crosses a line.....I'm pretty proud of them, actually!

I don't expect this to last forever. I don't expect to be able to dictate that what 'our family' believes will always be what THEY choose to believe, but at this young age, they seem to appreciate the structure. My oldest especially seems to do well with it as he's much more comfortable with cooperative plan than competitave play anyway. So, we also steer-clear of any good-guy/bad-guy play, and focus on problem-solving play (so, I ask the 'pirates' who are beginning to want to have a sword-fight to help each other find the treasure, and provide a map to figure out).

Gwen , partner to D ; Mamma to T (6) , J (4) , and baby P
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:18 AM
 
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I was and still am a bit uncomfortable with gun play but a wise mother said to me "you can try, but they'll probably still just chew their toast into a gun shape."
That's been my experience, that or they'll build them out of Legos and shoot you.

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds   11yo dd  9yo ds and 7yo ds and 2yo ds  
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:21 AM
 
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1.) He may have *appeared* to understand guns and what they do, but that is not a given. 3 yr olds do not really have the idea of death, they are not masters of empathy. So, he may have been describing it, but had not really interalized it.

2.) Often, 'gun play" is similar to "tag". They make noises and run after eachother. Again, "gun but not gun".

3.) There is attraction in the illicit, the games of older kids, "death" and power. All of which come into play with toy guns. Banning this type of play would not address these issues. These are big issues which come into the lives of pre-schoolers. And play is how they turn the ideas around in their imaginations.

4.) Gun play does not always corespond to lots of exposure. At 3, my ds1 had never been to daycare. He goes to a sweet little hippie montessori school where they bake bread and do yoga. We don't have a tv. His favorite book is Winnie-the-Pooh. This kid has had NO exposure to violence and is extremly media limited. A neighbor was playing with a light up squirt gun, they started playing. Then, for a while, EVERYTHING was a gun.

5.) Sometimes the best parenting strategy is to let it pass without playing it up or dressing them down. When ds was doing the gun thing, I'd just kind of nod, say "I see...". Sometimes, I'd be silly and say "Instead of fire, what if it made bubbles?" he'd laugh and roll with that idea (another indication that he had not interalized it). We don't buy guns (no toy guns at all), but if he makes them from sticks... well, there is something to "play through" there, huh? I figure it is a reasonable compromise.

6.) It is important for us as parents to remember that play is not real. What and how kids play is a safe way for them to think about things, try on ideas and learn consequences. When my son was in the "gun" phase, we were watching a skydiving video on youtube (his uncle went skydiving). At the end, there was a "made by _____" credit and a picture of a chimp photoshopped with a gun. The picture of a real gun scared my son. Deeply. Yet, he still played guns afterward. HIS gun was pretend, he knew it would not really hurt anyone and that a REAL gun is a very different thing. He patiently explained to me that "Mommy, my gun isn't really real... You don't have to be afraid. I'm going to shoot you with fire!"

7.) It passes.

And, I can't seem to stop myself. And I mean no disrespect. But your signature says your son's name is Cannon? I guess guns and weaponry are very deeply ingrained in our culture- so much that we don't always even see and recognize in what ways they enter our lives. It is not surprising that kids pick up on this cultural buzz.


I agree with all of this. Would like to also add that I was one of those kids (starting about age 5) that ALWAYS carried a toy gun on my belt. The only exposure I had to guns as a child was going hunting with my dad maybe 5 or 6 times. I pretended ALLLLLL the time that I was a cop and I was going to get the "bad guys". I also regularly pretended to be indiana jones and had a whip that my grandmother bought me at Dollywood that was attached right along side of that gun.
I am in the firm belief that parents should not "police" toys and a child should be able to use his or her imagination to the fullest extent. As long as the message at home is consistant, peaceful, loving, and stable...a toy, a type of music, a t.v. show for that matter, is not going to turn a child into a maniac- nor create bad habits.
My parents let me have full reign of what I played with, what I listened to, and let me play with friends and I was gone all hours of the day- in the woods, in the creek, etc. This allowed me to be the person I am today and I am soooo thankful for that.
Dh's mom policed everything- Dh was not allowed to play with guns, was not allowed to watch hardly anything on T.V., and MIL regularly went through his music and threw out cd's that were "not appropriate" and basically shunned him from doing anything with anyone that she saw as a bad influence. He rebelled BIG time as did his sisters...he's still affected by these experiences. At 15 he was sent to rehab for smoking pot (which was a joke) and I would be willing to bet my life that if she had just let his spirit mature on his own without policing everything, that he wouldn't have turned to daily pot use at 15.
NOt to say that not allowing gun play will lead to what my husband went through lol- I just think it can be a slippery slope to not allowing anything questionable.

Anywhoo- that's my soapbox...

Blessed with two BEAUTIFUL little girls: Kylie (09/06) and Maggie (4/09) :
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:22 AM
 
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Let? Let? like I have that kind of control over my kids play?!? Especially when they started school and playing with other children, all bets were off.

We have rules about where gun play is allowed - not in church, for example and not at school.We also have rules about not shooting people you don't know.

But I gave up trying to stop all gun play when I realized all that was happening was constant fighting and them hiding it.

And we do not have ANY toy guns - not even water guns - in the house (unless you count lego star wars guns which are teeny tiny).

Trust me, I really don't like the gun games, but to shut it down completely would require a level of authoritarian intervention that is completely at odds with my parenting philosophy... I'd love some tips on channeling or decreasing it...

That. We don't do toy guns. At all. We're hunters and have real guns. My 3 and 7 year olds (mostly my 3 year old though) turn everything into a gun. The rules are we don't point them at people. Ever.

I don't try to control what my kids play.
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:35 AM
 
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Eh, playing with guns is normal. I did. All the boys I grew up with did. As an adult, I'm a peaceful guy with no weapons in the house. As a kid, we had no real weapons in the house. My mom's rule was no (play) guns in the house.

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Old 09-09-2009, 11:46 AM
 
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I just wanted to share a few Mothering articles because I find this topic so important and fascinating:

http://www.mothering.com/bang-bang-youre-dead

http://www.mothering.com/alternative...ng-weapon-play

http://www.mothering.com/gun-play

http://www.mothering.com/green-livin...sts-toy-chests

I have retired from administration work, so if you have a question about anything MDC-related, please contact Cynthia Mosher. Thanks!
 
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Old 09-09-2009, 02:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Pkutniewski View Post
You will probably stop fighting just like that poor other mom did...
That's assuming the "poor other mom" ever objected in the first place. I've got no issue with gun play. Most moms that I know (outside of the local MDC tribe) have no issue with gun play. It simply doesn't come up on my radar as an issue at all. DS1 liked swords better, and I had no problem with that, either. He still has a large collection of toy weapons, mostly swords, but a few other things, including a couple of guns (nothing very realistic - noisy "laser" guns, mostly).

Thanks to threads here, I'm warning ds2 about "shooting" at people, but prior to these threads, it never even occurred to me that this could be an issue. (The first time I read something about it, I re-read the post, because I thought I'd misread it.)

Anyway, that's just my long-winded way of saying the "poor" mom in the OP may not have ever given up. She may just not have any issue with gun play.

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Old 09-09-2009, 03:58 PM
 
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I hate gun play. We don't own toy guns. That being said my son seemed to start gun play at 18 mths. After watching him I realized he was shooting with a hose (he didn't yet know what a gun was) but the play was identical. At 5 yrs old everything is a gun. He makes them out of everything. Our rule is you can only shoot people if they are playing the game too (some kids, I find mostly girls, really freak if you shoot at them as do their mothers)
I have to say mothering Mag did an article awhile back on gun play that really helped me mellow a bit. And playful parenting does have a good section on it as well.
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Old 09-09-2009, 07:58 PM
 
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I started out being very horrified and righteous about gun play, and have totally changed my stance as my boys got older. I tried to ban gun play, and it ended with my 3yo pointing his fingers at me in the shape of a gun and "shooting" at me when he got angry. I realized right then and there that I was the one putting the violence and the power into the gun play, not him. He was just pretending - I was making it real. He had no concept about death or guns. In fact, he didn't even know the word gun, he called them "shooters."

They are now 8 and 5, and every day involves guns or swords or light sabers or karate kicks or wrestling something else "violent." We've never owned guns, and I don't buy realistic looking gun toys. But I answer any and all questions about guns, and have told my kids that if they are curious about guns I will bring them to a shooting range or whatever else appropriate place so that they can see one, learn about how they work, and satisfy their curiousity. My 8yo has already expressed this is something he wants to do, after telling me that a friend of his secretly showed him his parents' bb gun.

Our only rule about gun play is the same rule we have about any other play - if someone else doesn't want to play, leave them alone. If another kid is bothered by them pretending to shoot them, then they have to stop. But the same goes if another kid is bothered by them riding their bikes too close, or trying to cast a magic spell on them or whatever, they have to stop that too. It's not about the power of the gun, it's about respecting people's boundaries in general.

A gun is just a machine like any other machine. It can be used responsibly, or it can be used irresponsibly.

But, we all have our hangups. I refuse to let my kids wear camouflage, for instance. So if you want to stick to no gun play, then stick to no gun play, but realize that other kids who do engage in gun play are not violent, out of control kids.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:26 PM
 
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I purchased a toy gun for my daughter when she was 18mo and started pointing a pen at something imaginary and shouting 'bang!'. She uses it to shoot the Big Bad Wolf who seems to appear at our appartment every so often, or a lion trying to eat us.

I wouldn't mind her playing to be a policewoman and fighting crime. I'd be kinda proud.

I wouldn't even stop her from exploring villains, such as thieves. Play is play. If I don't judge Shakespeare for creating Iago and putting words in his mouth - why should I have anything against a child playing at something that might not be ideally moral?

I loved playing with guns and all sorts of weapons when I was a kid, starting at age four. I'm a pretty peaceful woman now, no problems with aggression, and have yet to shoot anyone . It was all about adventure, and danger, and imagining I was fighting on the side of justice, against Nazis or kidnappers.

The only proviso I'd make is: never 'shoot' at someone who doesn't like it. But that goes for a lot of stuff, hugs included.
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:31 PM
 
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Q for the crowd - what about buying toy guns for preschoolers/elementary school kids? So far, we have not and I am not entirely comfortable with buying toy guns, but when my kids find them at friend's houses, they covet them and usually play exclusively with them...

Now, my kids make guns out of absolutely everything - vaccum cleaner hoses, railroad tracks, pens, fingers, etc. So is it better or worse to buy some nerf guns or water guns?

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:35 PM
 
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My daughters learned to pretend gun play by their 12 year old half brother and their 11 year old cousins. They're just imitating what they see the older ones do. I don't think they get it at all and think it's just a chasing game. When the cousins friends started using a carved piece of wood as a knife on each other, then I had a problem and just distracted my girls and led them off to some other activity.

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Old 09-09-2009, 10:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
Q for the crowd - what about buying toy guns for preschoolers/elementary school kids? So far, we have not and I am not entirely comfortable with buying toy guns, but when my kids find them at friend's houses, they covet them and usually play exclusively with them...

Now, my kids make guns out of absolutely everything - vaccum cleaner hoses, railroad tracks, pens, fingers, etc. So is it better or worse to buy some nerf guns or water guns?
We don't buy anything "life-like". Squirt guns are more about the squirting and playing and experimenting with water, so I don't really stress them, and some "guns" are more like launchers for little soft balls (Nerf does some of these) and they are not really life-like either (he usually plays some sort of "chase" or "catch" game with the balls- he doesn't really think of it as a gun).

Like others said, they will turn anything into a gun, so I don't feel that I need to provide one just for "playing guns". My little stance is that we don't buy "realistic" weapon toys. I get to say my peace that we don't have weapons in the house and all that. Of course, he makes them out of sticks, legos, blocks, tinkertoys, etc. Those, I don't stop or discourage. I let him "play it out". But I don't feel I need to "supply it".
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:47 PM
 
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We have several toy guns, mostly laser-type things. They were originally ds1's, and I honestly don't remember if I bought them or not. A few of them are battery operated, and those ones still have their original batteries, as they don't really get a lot of play. DS2 is more into guns than ds1 was, but they're both much more interested in playing swords and light sabers. Personally, I wouldn't buy a very realistic looking gun, although I'm not terribly concerned about my kids visiting a home that has a gun. They're not that common here.

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Old 09-09-2009, 11:51 PM
 
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My 2.5 year old boy plays "guns" and "swords" and has for at least a year. I'm not sure exactly where he picked up on the idea (his older sister isn't into those things) but I've pretty much just let him be. I do occasionally (when we're playing with smaller children or children we don't know very well) remind him not to shoot at people, but if we're with our playgroup (which is made up of ALL MDC mom's), I don't even mention that.

In my crunchy playgroup, all the kids will get in on a good light saber battle or pretend to have some bad guys and good guys. These kids range from 2.5 (mine) to 9. Boys and girls.

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Old 09-09-2009, 11:55 PM
 
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One of my biggest concerns is if my kids come across a real gun. Now, we don't have one in our house, but I live in a neighborhood where a sizable percentage of the families have real guns - I am guessing about 1/3rd or so would have them. Mainly handguns, not rifles - we live in suburbia.

Whether they are locked up/out of reach, etc is variable.

Up to now, all the playdates have been with church or preschool friends - a pretty hippy, no guns kind of group. But now that my oldest has started Kindergarten, I know there is going to be more potential exposure. This may be my paranoia, of course!

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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Old 09-10-2009, 11:46 AM
 
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My ds is 4 and recently he loves fantasizing about guns. He makes everything into a gun (sticks, cardboard tubes, etc.). He asks me when we'll get a real gun. I asked him what he likes about guns. He says you need them to get "bad guys."

I'm not sure where he got this, but I'm trying not to make a big deal about it. We talk about how guns hurt people and kill people. I make it clear that I don't like guns, and that we will never have a gun in the house, and that real guns are not toys. But I'm not going to forbid it. I'm hoping it's just a phase he outgrows soon.

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