My 4 year old DD has been taking various toys and pretending they are guns lately. She will run around the house and "shoot" them, and of course her two younger siblings are copying her every move. I really didn't think I would have toddlers who go around saying "gun" and "shoot." So far I don't tell her to stop (don't want to turn it into forbidden fruit) but I gently comment to her about how I don't like guns or hurting people. She usually switches to a different activity soon after that.
I know she is getting this at preschool, she even told me so. I've witnessed it firsthand, the boys this year are obsessed with good guys vs. bad guys and play fighting and shooting. I have even heard certain boys mention things about the violent movies that they claim to have seen, like Dark Knight and Iron Man! DD doesn't tend to play with these boys, but she is around them and hears the violent stuff.
I'm just wondering how others have handled a situation like this? Obviously she's going to be exposed to it at some point, but I'm just so sad to see it happening already.
I think the way you're handling it is best; she'll outgrow it in time. And really, you can't exactly forbid gun play even if you tried. At least I couldn't. My 3.5 yo uses his finger to shoot. The last time I saw him doing it (towards his brother), I just said something similar to what you have - that I don't like shooting or guns. His response was that it's not a real gun, mom, it's a water shooter. LOL!
At that age my son used tell everyone he "saw" Predators (alien vs Predator maybe??) because it was playing behind the counter when we picked up take out Thai. Oh, the looks I would get! I would not worry about that. Even if the parents did take their kids to those movies you can't control what you can't control, KWIM?
My son used to bite his toast into a the shape of a gun and "shoot" me. I would always either ignore it, engage him "Wow that a big Gun! What sound does it make? What other things go Bang?" and we were off talking about drums or rocks falling. Sometimes, if he was really in shooting mode. I would try to direct that play into something creative.
It sound your daughter quickly loses interest so I would let go. Gun play is very common.
Pardon me while I
I 100% understand not wanting guns or gun toys or gun conversation to be a part of your child's circle of knowledge.
However, i think education is more important than exclusion, especially if you live in a place where the culture may bring you in contact with guns at some point. I never allowed nerf or water guns into the house until my father started collecting firearms. As a result of them being around (careful as he is to keep them locked up and unloaded), i decided that my kids instead needed to learn exactly what they were, how they are used (and how they should not be used), and how to be safe with them. When they were big enough to use it properly, they were allowed to use a bb gun under extreme supervision so we could put the safety rules into practice.
Here are a few points i think any kid should know about guns, regardless of possible exposure:
Guns are not toys, but guns can look like toys. Never pick up any gun, even if you think it's a toy, without asking a grown-up first.
Never point toy guns at people. Heroes don't shoot the bad guys.
Never point guns at anything that is alive, unless you are going to eat it.
There are many, many others if you do allow your kids to use guns, but that's for a whole other post :)
Four is very young for any of this though. I would simply tell her that's something she can learn about when she's bigger, and like HollyBearsMom said, she'll probably lose interest anyway.
Thank you for the replies! It is nice to get some validation for my approach, I haven't really known what to do.
That is a really good suggestion to use this an an opening to talk to her about guns and teach her those points. We do know people who have them, but she's never seen one and isn't aware of them. And we don't hunt or know people who do. I am hesitant to get into much of this because she's the type of kid who will take one comment I make and think about it for days and end up understanding way more than I meant to say!
I think I will just start the discussion now by talking about not pointing guns AT people, that is a good place to begin the safety talk.
Gun play is unavoidable for us as well in our preschool environment. I don't interrupt this at school when I am co'oping because it's not against the school rules and I'm not there to correct other children in this area. However, if we are at our house and there is a friend over, I will let them know that in our house we don't point guns at each other or pretend to shoot people - even bad guys. I say guns are not for pointing at any people. You can pretend to go hunting for deer or dinosaurs, but not people. Privately I have told my son I do not like guns and a long time ago a bad man pointed a gun at mommy and it was very scary for me so that's why I don't like guns even for pretend. (and my story is true - I was involved in an armed hold up working in my family's store when I was 19).
Also if we are having playdate at another mom's home... I don't stop it. I try to maybe re-direct them, but I don't go overboard to tell someone else what to do in their home especially when we are guests. I have a close friend whose hubby is a cop and their toy boxes were full of guns. I hated to see my two year old running around with a gun. It was awful. But every family is different. FWIW, the kids in that family are super sweet and polite and the nicest kids you'd ever meet so I think mom's doing a great job even though our rules are different. In their home I'm sure guns are part of daddy's job and something for protection and in our home there is obviously a different story.
I would say the phase will come and go and just keep trying to re-direct. Oh one more thing I tell my son in regards to gun play at school or other homes - if anyone says they don't like it, he needs to stop right away. I just say some people, like mommy, don't like it, so we have to stop when they say to stop.
my daughter did not do pretend gun play, that i can recall, while my son turns every single thing he holds into a weapon. i'm pretty sure he's the boy at his daycare that the girls' mothers worry about, w/ his love of shooting up woven into everything he does. he loves playing made-up stories with action figures, so one of the things i do to help ease the violence is play action figures with him, but use my little action people to give him different ideas. like, "oh! please don't shoot me. that hurts. let's be friends and go do ___________ together!" his guys are always agreeable to my guys' ideas, and it gives him different ways to play make believe. the more we do this, the less often he relies on bang 'em up strategies, but we haven't eliminated it, just made it smaller. i don't want to try to squish it and make it tantalizing...