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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, so perhaps this is just my issue to work through or get used to as children will dabble in playing rough as they grow up. I know there was an article in mothering that talked about this kind of thing, but it didn't go far enough for my circumstances.<br><br>
I have a 3 yo boy and nanny a 5 yo boy and 2 yo girl part time since last year. The older boy is my main concern because he constantly plays mean guys and shooting and killing and fighting. The thing is my son (3yo) hasn't been introduced to these things, we don't watch mainstream tv or movies... and are careful about the things we do put in his world. Over the last year my son has been picking up behaviors that are the kinds of things I have been working to keep to a minimum.<br><br>
So here's my deal:<br>
1. And I'm confused about limiting the kinds of play etc. On one hand I know some form of rough play will happen. But I want to have more constructive types of play happening more often than destructive.<br>
2. I want to buffer what my son picks up and how he handles the ideas of killing, crashing and hurting. For instance, the other day I was trying to have my son take a nap because he's been sick. After getting no where I mentioned that if he continues to be sick or gets sicker then we would need to see a doctor. Well, my son got mad at that and told me he would shoot the doctor. Well, that's not the kind of reaction I want to be a default setting in my son.<br><br>
3. What types of killing do you all allow or not allow, where do you stop the play.<br>
4. As for me, I tend to believe that children are rushed to grow up beyond what they are mentally capable of making sense of. I nanny the 5 yo who is developmentally farther along than the 3 and 2yo. And honestly it just feels odd to be hearing little ones playing kill.<br>
5. I do know that I need to discuss this with the parents, and I have approached the topic a few times. I think the parents are not in a position to make any great policy changes in their family. And I need this job, so I need to find a way to work WITH the situation and also get what I want.<br><br>
Please help.<br>
TIA!<br>
heidi
 

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If you don't want them to play "kill", then tell them not to. You are being paid to watch and supervise these children so what you say goes. I doubt his parents are going to come complaining to you to let him be more violent, but cross that bridge when you come to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's a good point. I've been working on this for a while, and I guess I feel kind of exasperated that it doesn't get any better.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Can moms of older children share their experience with me, what worked for you what didn't?<br><br>
I've also wondered if this is more a society kind of thing where movies or stories depict a "bad" guy and a "good" guy. I think in the real world it's not black and white like that. Yet, those are the kinds of story lines children see.
 

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hmmm....<br><br>
I have a 5 yo DS and his interest in war/kill play has *skyrocketed* recently. He has never played a video game of <b>any</b> sort, and although we are 99.99% tv free now, when he did watch TV it was <b>very</b> limited, <b>zero</b> violence shows/videos (we're talking Kipper, Little Bear, Blues Clues and the like). Our 1-2 hours of tv a week consist of a family movie once a week- again, zero violence. We don't have toy guns in our home, and I think the closest thing to a toy gun he's seen at a friend's house is a water gun super soaker thing.<br><br>
Where he got the war/killing stuff, I have no idea. I write this just to let you know that it <b>is</b> possible for a child to play war/kill <i>in spite of a family's attempt</i> to "buffer" their child from such things. Just because the boy is playing this way does not necessarily mean that the boy is exposed to violent tv/video games etc at home.<br><br>
I friggedy freaked at first. Now, though, I've come to understand (based on books- <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Real Boys</span> and <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Raising Cain</span> come to mind, there are others, too, that I am not remembering at the moment) that this is really normal- especially for boys- and that calling it 'bad' or telling a boy that he can't play this way can be harmful. This is how boys work through the issues of good/evil, power, right/wrong and we really should respect this part of them, because if we don't it's like telling boys that there is something wrong with <b>them</b>.<br><br>
Playing war/kill is not REAL, no more than my son pretending to be a dinosaur is REAL. It doesn't mean that a boy is violent or evil or vicious or WANTS to kill someone. When your son said he wanted to shoot the doctor- you know he didn't actually mean that! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> He was probably just feeling powerless and wanted to come up with the roughest, baddest thing he could to show you (and the doctor) who's boss. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue"><br><br>
It's a way of expressing a feeling or working through a messy idea. So in this sense, it <b>IS</b> constructive play and IMO nothing that needs to be 'redirected' UNLESS one of the kids involved does not want to play. Those are the only types of rules I put on this play- everyone involved needs to WANT to play war/kill, needs to WANT to be the good guy/bad guy etc. I do allow rough play/wrestling, too, with the absolute rule that all parties MUST agree to it and the level of intensity and that "STOP" is a sacred word and must be respected immediately.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
qtopia... thank you!<br>
I appreciate another mom's point of view/experience. I have read/heard that this is something they need to work through... although I wonder how they are actually working through it... when it appears to be continual or default.<br><br>
In a multiple sibling scenario or child care setting, I'm wondering how to work with this when the older one is trying to set the agenda for the other ones. It appears that the other kiddos aren't ready for that kind of play.<br><br>
That's interesting to consider your situation in terms of practically no exposure to violence. Where as the older boy has seen a lot of movies that are typically for older kids (PG+). I wonder how exposure to outside influences of violence impacts the whole working through of it.<br><br>
Above all, what would you think my role is in this regard?
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>jaidymama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10257034"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">qtopia... thank you!<br>
I appreciate another mom's point of view/experience. I have read/heard that this is something they need to work through... although I wonder how they are actually working through it... when it appears to be continual or default.<br><br>
In a multiple sibling scenario or child care setting, I'm wondering how to work with this when the older one is trying to set the agenda for the other ones. It appears that the other kiddos aren't ready for that kind of play.<br><br>
That's interesting to consider your situation in terms of practically no exposure to violence. Where as the older boy has seen a lot of movies that are typically for older kids (PG+). I wonder how exposure to outside influences of violence impacts the whole working through of it.<br><br>
Above all, what would you think my role is in this regard?</div>
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You're welcome! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
In the scenario you've described above (i.e. older one sets the agenda and the others aren't into it or aren't ready), I would feel <b>totally</b> fine telling the 5 year old "we need to come up with something that everyone wants to play" rather than "playing war/kill is bad", not placing judgment on the type of play, you know? I also vaguely remember something from the book <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Playful Parenting</span> about turning gun play into a "love gun" or something like that... which isn't something I would do if my son and his gaggle were in the throes of play, but in your situation where there are littles who aren't necessarily able to willingly agree, I might try that.<br><br>
One thing about it being continual/default. I don't really have any answers, these are just thoughts I've had, but I have seen an upswing with my son and I do believe it is tied with some kind of 5 year old brain development thing. How's that for precise? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> It seems to be a time of huge leaps in independence- maybe this is one reason this type of play is continual? I don't know... so much of what DS does is continual, bordering on obsessive right now (like the constant questions!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> that makes me think there is something major going on.<br><br>
Anyhoo, I am babbling now. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"> I think your role is to make sure all the kids are comfortable. If the 5 yo wants rough play, are there ways he can get that without involving the littles? Even simple things like crashing from the sofa onto the floor (if you/his parents allow that), or if you're at the playground, tell him he can pretend a log/pile of leaves is an evil pirate that he can whack with a tree branch rather than "shooting" the 2 yo?
 

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My boys are 4 and 2. We allow some forms of violent play and not others. They're both obsessed with knights and have dressups, armor, swords, etc. I'm okay with them jousting, so long as they're hitting each other's swords and not body parts. We also have to stress (mostly with my 2 year old) that you do NOT hit an unarmed man. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"> They do get their fair amount of minor bumps with this type of play, and I tell them at the start every time that they may get a boo-boo and if they're not into it, they shouldn't play.<br><br>
We don't allow guns in the house, but of course, they do pretend their hands are guns and whatnot. They also like to pretend that the couches we have on opposite walls are ships and they shoot cannons at each other's boats. Our main rule is that we do NOT shoot people. We can shoot cannons at boats, and we can pretend to shoot imaginary people (well, dinosaurs, usually). We cannot aim at people. If they insist, we change the play from shooting to spraying water. That usually changes the whole thing into a firefighter roleplay. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
Colwyn is aware of what 'badly hurt' means, and we talk to him every now and then about how we can pretend things, but that it's never nice to talk about wanting to shoot real people. We say things like, "I can see you're very angry, but that's really not an okay way to express your anger. Shooting hurts people, and I'm sure you don't *really* want to hurt so-and-so."<br><br>
They are still very young, and as they get older, I'm sure my rules will change to become more accepting of pretend-shooting.<br><br>
Anyway. I'd try redirecting to spraying water, or maybe shooting at objects instead of people, since the other children involved are so little.
 

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Thank you for this thread. Recently my DS (5) and his 3-4 friends at school have been big on playing "kill" type games ... I dont like it of course. but I do sorta feel like boys will be boys. However his best friend's mother is a close friend of mine and she is FREAKING out about it. Maybe I will direct her to those books.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks I appreciate these kinds of "tools" of thinking that I can use to redirect play or keep things age appropriate. I want to be flexible and to be able to compromise.<br><br>
I know I will benefit from this information. Please keep it coming... if anyone else has anything to add to this.
 

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I have 2 boys (6yo and 8yo) and I must say that as they have gotten older they spend quite a bit of time together playing these sort of games.<br><br>
At first I was VERY upset, especially since I felt my older was introducing it to his brother earlier than I would have liked. I just never imagind my kids would play guns and shooting. I am MUCH better with it now.<br><br>
When I really watch what they are doing I see them spening a lot of time building forts from pillows and gathering things to put in them. Or setting the scene if they are outside. We don't really have guns [though relatives gave them a lot of nerf guns for Chirstmas... so we will see] but they always find other things to use! They do have play bows and arrows and swords which they use more. And have more fun with.<br><br>
So I hear what you are saying and I would definitely observe and evaluate if this is something the other kids are enjoying. How can you make it something they all like with more to it than just the 'kill' factor. Mine like to hear a good story about knights or pirates and then do some acting out. Rescuing princesses, slaying dragons, finding a treasure.<br><br>
I still find myself a little horrified when we go to a friends house and I see the big play guns that look so real running around, followed by shouts or 'I killed you'. But I also agree with some of the previous posts that on many levels it is all very healthy and I try to not interrupt. Boys can be so rough! When it does cross boundaries that I really am not comfortable with I try to make a suggestion to redirect them.<br><br>
AND I will say I am noticing that my 8 yo isn't into it as much as he used to be. So I tell myself as so many phases go, this too shall pass!<br><br>
And my husband who is very non-violent and hates guns reminds me that when he was a kid that playing cowboys was ALL he did.<br><br>
Good luck. And some of the books can be very helpful.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Qtopia</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10255297"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">hmmm....<br><br>
I have a 5 yo DS and his interest in war/kill play has *skyrocketed* recently. He has never played a video game of <b>any</b> sort, and although we are 99.99% tv free now, when he did watch TV it was <b>very</b> limited, <b>zero</b> violence shows/videos (we're talking Kipper, Little Bear, Blues Clues and the like). Our 1-2 hours of tv a week consist of a family movie once a week- again, zero violence. We don't have toy guns in our home, and I think the closest thing to a toy gun he's seen at a friend's house is a water gun super soaker thing.<br><br>
Where he got the war/killing stuff, I have no idea. I write this just to let you know that it <b>is</b> possible for a child to play war/kill <i>in spite of a family's attempt</i> to "buffer" their child from such things. Just because the boy is playing this way does not necessarily mean that the boy is exposed to violent tv/video games etc at home.<br><br>
I friggedy freaked at first. Now, though, I've come to understand (based on books- <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Real Boys</span> and <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Raising Cain</span> come to mind, there are others, too, that I am not remembering at the moment) that this is really normal- especially for boys- and that calling it 'bad' or telling a boy that he can't play this way can be harmful. This is how boys work through the issues of good/evil, power, right/wrong and we really should respect this part of them, because if we don't it's like telling boys that there is something wrong with <b>them</b>.<br><br>
Playing war/kill is not REAL, no more than my son pretending to be a dinosaur is REAL. It doesn't mean that a boy is violent or evil or vicious or WANTS to kill someone. When your son said he wanted to shoot the doctor- you know he didn't actually mean that! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> He was probably just feeling powerless and wanted to come up with the roughest, baddest thing he could to show you (and the doctor) who's boss. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue"><br><br>
It's a way of expressing a feeling or working through a messy idea. So in this sense, it <b>IS</b> constructive play and IMO nothing that needs to be 'redirected' UNLESS one of the kids involved does not want to play. Those are the only types of rules I put on this play- everyone involved needs to WANT to play war/kill, needs to WANT to be the good guy/bad guy etc. I do allow rough play/wrestling, too, with the absolute rule that all parties MUST agree to it and the level of intensity and that "STOP" is a sacred word and must be respected immediately.</div>
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I could have written this post exactly. 5.5 yo son, no TV other than PBS, no movies, no commercials, no toy guns, etc. But the boy loves to draw, talk about, and play guns or weapons of other kinds. It started with knights and an interest in medival times and then went on to more modern forms of weaponry. I know a lot of parents get very concerned about play guns, I know I did, but I actually find the medival stuff to be much more disturbing (battleaxes, maces, etc. - yikes!).<br><br>
I did a lot of reading about boys and had a major perspective shift on this. I am now a boy advocate and feel that a lot of the ways people limit boy's expressions (i.e. play) are very, very shaming. I'd rather him be playing out these fantasies now than keeping it inside and having them come out in an unhealthy way as a teenager or adult, you know?
 

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I was really upset when my son started playing killing and gun games. He was around 3.5 and I had no idea where he had learned it. I tried the Love Gun from Playful Parenting, but that just angered him because I wasn't playing the way he wanted to play. After about 6 months of fighting it, I finally just gave in and played the way he wanted me to. But I wouldn't let him shoot me. We would just run around the house shooting pretend bad guys.<br><br>
With my kids (5 & 3), my DS is always trying to get my DD to play killing with him. i tell him that he has to ask her if she wants to play that way and that if she doesn't, he has to respect her. She will play along for awhile and then get tired of it and start hanging on my leg and whining. At that point, i know she has had enough and I tell her to use her words to tell her brother that she doesn't want to play that way any more. But I never try to prevent the play because that is their relationship and I don't want to interfere in it. I always let them decide how they want to play with each other (as long as it is safe and no one is getting hurt). Sure, I wish she wasn't learning this so young, but that's life.<br><br>
We used to be so anti-gun, but did buy him a Nerf gun for Christmas. The funny thing is that he still prefers to play with his guns that he makes himself (out of tinkertoys and plumbing pipes) to that gun.<br><br>
We also use this kind of play as a chance to teach him about guns - how guns can kill, you never aim a gun at yourself or anyone because you don't know if it is real or loaded, etc.
 

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thanks for the post. we, or I really, am also dealing with this...more recently as some of ds friends are being more exposed to preschool & daycare etc. I did find in my house under my care I suggested the boys rescue the animals opposed to shoot them. One friend in particular is very into shooting & killing anything & uses anything to pretend he has a gun - last I saw styrofoam packaging from a TV! I have been having a hard time with this as well. I find my son often playing with death & killing prob as a way to understand it so I don't want to interfere, but I like you want him to be the hero not the bad guy. But I guess like the others said they need to play out both roles. I have realized that this does not in any way make him a violent person nor do I think he would really act out on this in real life - he gets upset when a friend kills a bug. These are just words & actions that bother me when I hear them & see them playing. I do suggest rescuing & that sometimes works & other times I have to just let go & let him be a boy & act out his fears - bc that is really how they learn. When he learned about swords from an older boy I did find that by playing with him & showing him how to play correctly helped & he really lost interest in it soon after. I do agree that the forbidden fruits of life do become that much more interesting & more a part of mainstream play when it is not allowed...I can think back to my own childhood & see that...
 

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An interesting time for me to see this. My 5 yo and 2yo were playing at the mall play area yesterday. I'm not sure if ds1 started the pirate play or another slightly older boy did. But it turned into ds1, ds2 and an older boy on a little ship shooting at girls and saying there were no girls allowed on the ship. I did not like this. I didn't like seeing my 2yo pretending to shoot, although he shot everyone not just girls. I really didn't like the girl thing. I talked to my 5yo and reminded him that his friend Sophia has a monster truck and plays a lot of the things he does, wouldn't he want her on the boat to be a pirate with him? It didn't really work. I ended up saying it was time to head and look for daddy, as I could see that some of the girls really didn't like it. He's picked up the whole violence and boy vs. girl things at preschool. As the op said, I don't want my 2yo getting into that so early. The problem is that he is gung ho. When he even senses aggression he jumps right in with his own aggression. I think I need to reread some parenting books
 

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I haven't read this whole thread yet, but I wanted to weigh in. We've always monitored what our son watches. One day when playing with Legos at the age of 2, he made something that looked like a gun. He then pointed it at things in the house and began making sounds with it. Not a gun popping sound, but a sound none the less. My DH and I looked at eachother very perplexed, wondering where he would've picked it up from. Mind you, he's never been to daycare, and at that point had played with other kids his age only. We are still puzzled as to where he learned that, but we never took that away from him.<br>
Now, he is going to be 5 in a few weeks. He plays with the boys in the neighborhood. Most of them are a few years older than him. They play cops and robbers or "shooting" as he calls it. They play with Nerf guns and water guns. Personally, I have no problem with it. I played the same games as a kid, just like all the rest of my friends from my generation. I can say with the utmost confidence that none of us turned out to be serial killers, murderers or criminals. None of us are violent people either.<br>
We've discussed the difference (with our son) between reality and play. We've drawn some boundaries for gun play as well. Telling him he can't play would be such a battle of the wills, and just not worth the fight. He'd be excluded from playing with all the kids in the neighborhood, and I just can't do that to him. I also feel that if we make a big deal out of it, then it would put too much value on something that really isn't important.
 

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I just wanted to pass on a link to an article:<br><a href="http://www.macleans.ca/homepage/magazine/article.jsp?content=20080109_70985_70985&page=1" target="_blank">http://www.macleans.ca/homepage/maga...5_70985&page=1</a><br><br>
It's called: How to fix boys<br>
Let them start school later and, yes, let them fight and play with toy guns.<br><br><br>
I'm sure the interview is with one of the people from the Raising Cain documentary... That was an eye-openner.
 
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