Toys as Guns? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 01-10-2002, 12:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 3 1/2 y.o. son recently visited another boy for a playdate over the holidays. He was enamored of this boy's cork gun and played with it nonstop for two hours.

Prior to this, he had never seen one on tv or in movies, had never played guns or had one (except for a squirt gun, which he never pretended to be a weapon.)

Now, everything is a gun. He wants to shoot bad guys and kill them. I told him he can't point the "guns" at people and that police officers take bad guys to jail if they can.

I told him I don't like guns. I have reminded him and make him repeat to me what to do if he ever saw a real one. etc.

But, he still likes to play guns.

Finally, I made paper targets, so he would focus on circles rather than people.

Any other ideas?

Melissa

I don't know what else. to do.
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#2 of 13 Old 01-10-2002, 10:46 AM
 
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I think you are doing the right thing. If you forbid them they just become that much more interesting. He may get bored with the whole thing if he is only allowed to aim at targets and once he sees it has lost it's shock value with you.
Good Luck!

peggy
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#3 of 13 Old 01-10-2002, 11:14 AM
 
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I agree you are doing the right thing.

Guns are not acceptable for small children.

That's the end of it.

a

The anti-Ezzo king
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#4 of 13 Old 01-10-2002, 11:15 AM
 
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You should totally go check out that book, Playful Parenting. He talks quite a bit about toys as guns, and about what to do when your kids want to play games that disturb you. I am so enthusiastic about this book. Someone here had posted a link to his site, and got me interested. I think you can do a search and find that thread, if you are interested.
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#5 of 13 Old 01-10-2002, 11:19 AM
 
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Hi Melissa,
I'm in the same boat as you. My son is 3 1/2 and this past Christmas he sat through his first full film on video "A Christmas Story," which he loves as much as I do. As you may know, it's mostly about how much the boy wants a b.b. gun for Christmas, which I was concerned about. I was all set to explain to him how many kids back in those days (the 40's as well as other times) had toy guns to play with, but most kids don't play with guns anymore etc.
But to my amazement it wasn't the gun that caught his attention, but the scene where the two boys are fighting. For a long time he was interested in "fighting" as a game. I take full responsibility for this of course because I chose to show the film to him... but I'm sure I'll have to deal with the gun issue sooner or later.
I've heard some parents say that even if toy guns are banned in the home, their kids will use sticks or pretend if they're playing cops and robbers or war or anything like that, and our kids are less likely to come to us and talk about it afterwards if they know that we are dead-set against guns. This isn't a very good solution.
Here is what I have in store for my son:
~Archery lessons with the Medieval Society in our town,
~Karate/Tai Kwon Do and Self-Defence
~Non-violent conflict resolution for everyday disagreements
The best way you can assure that your son doesn't turn his "weapon" on another child is treat him with respect. Kids that are empathetic and have adequate oppourtunities to express their emotions are less likely to try and hurt somebody else.
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#6 of 13 Old 01-10-2002, 09:48 PM
 
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i did NOT let my oldest boy have guns.

but he would pretend that his stuffed animals were guns.

his kindergarten teacher said "he can make a gun out of anything".

i guess he saw stuff on TV and elsewhere.

im really anti-guns and anti-toy guns, but my oldest son sure loves it. not sure what to do
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#7 of 13 Old 01-11-2002, 07:15 AM
 
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Okay, it's late, and this post will probably seem full of really silly thoughts and ideas in the morning.

I think the paper target idea is great!

I also think there is a world of difference between a child who is using his own imagination to create a toy gun out of an object or his own body than a child who has been handed a miniature and toy version of a real, lethal weapon. That's why I'm a big believer in not buying toy guns, even if our kids make guns out of everything else in the world.

Another idea is to have other things that can squirt. A little plastic squirt bottle (like for plants), a "squirt fish," and so forth. He can use these during his "target practice." Perhaps sometime he might find you enjoying these things too (I love practicing hitting points on my shower curtain with a squirt bottle, myself), and when he asks what you are doing, you can tell him that you love playing with water and trying to aim and hit goals with it. This might end up seemingly going in the "wrong direction," and he still might call these guns, but the thing is that he will get the idea that there are fun things to shoot that don't look like guns or involve hurtful items like corks.

I also think that when we have extreme reactions to gun play, not only do we give it a curiousity factor, but we also essentially give it power over us. I have been guilty of having a not so good reaction to playing with pretend guns, but I think the best reaction is one that reclaims power. Perhaps if your son is trying to play a pretend gun game with you, you could walk away and say that you don't do gun play, and that you'll give him a chance to play his games, and if he wants to play something else later, with you, you'll be available. Then walk away. Don't expect him to stop. Just walk away and stick to it. He can play on is own and that is perfectly fine, but you are not giving the guns the power to make you upset. You are doing other things with your time. When he's ready to play another game, he'll find you.

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#8 of 13 Old 01-11-2002, 12:44 PM
 
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I grew up shooting guns, I will teach my daughter to shoot prob. around the age of 5. I think they need taught the difference btw a toy and a real gun.
A real gun is always going to be used with an adult and a toy is not. The target idea is great.
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#9 of 13 Old 01-11-2002, 01:24 PM
 
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I think that this gun/fighting aggressive behavior is a natural part of a childs development. I neither encorage nor discourage my 3 1/2 yo when he plays guns ..I think its healthy for him to be ABLE to explore this part of himself if he needs to.I DO encourage him to talk about weapons and what they can do and I plan to teach him about guns when he's old enough. I would rather that if the day comes that my child (god forbid) came across a loaded gun that he would be fully aware of what that weapon could do than to pick it up...full of curiosity and innocence....
I do not have guns in my house and never plan to,BTW
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#10 of 13 Old 01-11-2002, 02:15 PM
 
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BAU3 raises an interesting point about it being a natual part of a boys growing up. Alexander O'Neil of Summer Hill fame wrote about this also in his biography of the school.

a

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#11 of 13 Old 01-11-2002, 05:00 PM
 
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Look at the type of "people" boys want to be like,
a cowboy, a cop, a soldier....all use guns. It is a natural process.
Just talk to your kids about Guns, teach them to respect them.
People blame so much on Guns and its not the guns its the parents and the kids a gun is just a device used to hurt people.
Guns are a great thing. Hunting( when used for food only), target practice, you can get scholerships through shooting, defending your personal property and rights resposibly. I just hear so many people make guns out to be so wrong that i wanted to put my 2 cents in. Thanks for letting me vent a little
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#12 of 13 Old 01-11-2002, 05:12 PM
 
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I think what you're doing is fine. I would never buy my child a toy weapon of any kind, but all children will discover guns and other weapons eventually, through other children, television, books, etc. By explaining your values to your son, you are doing something that will stick with him much longer than his temporary fascination with this type of play. Try to think about it as a way to work out issues of good vs. evil, rather than violence. I think most children go through the "let's shoot the bad guys" stage, especially boys. Allowing him to "shoot" at targets with pretend guns and setting limits on this makes your message clear. I think a complete ban on this type of play would only make it seem more enticing; besides, he would do it anyway when you weren't watching.

I love when people ask for advice and they're already doing the best possible thing!
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#13 of 13 Old 01-12-2002, 02:06 PM
 
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Yeah. But you are talking real weapons here, not toys.

There is no need for respect in a toy. There is the posibility that kids, not properly supervised won't "play nice".

I see that all the time, and it make me sad.

On the .22 and the life saver. I agree.

Though I used beer bottle tops pressed into cuttle fish. Small holes when you miss. Explosion when you hit!

a

The anti-Ezzo king
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