I have two boys aged seven and very nearly six and I remember when they were very small having a conversation with MadDad about the fact that I wasn’t going to allow toy guns in to my home. I was determined that they would grow up in an environment that didn’t promote fighting, death, anger or shooting. For the first two years of Maxi’s life, he didn’t even know what a gun was, let alone how to use them. I would not let any program on the TV that had violence on it, no Ben10, no Power Ranger or such like. I was very clear and if he was ever bought a gun or such it went straight in the bin.
However, we got to a point where anything and every thing became a weapon. He would use sticks as arrows and swords, duplo was fashioned in to guns and imaginative play revolved around cops and robbers.
As time went on the boys toys included Playmobil knights, castles and dragons, LEGO police and Toy Story little green army men and I realised that I was trying to swim upstream against my refusal to have these thigs in our home. The final straw being when the boys were given Nerf guns and I realised that we all had a ball with them.
So we implemented a new plan. Guns would be allowed in to the house as long as when I was involved in the play they fired “love bullets” and I would smother the boys in kisses and tickles when I shot them. This has become a fun tradition when in our home.
I can not stop what happens when they are in school or at other peoples home, but I can in my house. I do not encourage guns and I refuse to let them have access to shooting and war games on the Xbox, Wii or any other electronic devise. As I believe that introducing them to active violence at this age is harmful and thankfully MadDad agrees. There is enough real violence and war in this world that I do not wish to trivialise it or normalise it in any way.
I am realistic. I know that they will role play cops and robbers, goodies and baddies and other role playing and I feel that this is an important aspect of their development, by playing it out they are actually reinforcing any learning about good and bad. I am a huge believer in the benefit of learning through play and both my boys have had kitchens, cleaning toys and a buggy and babies. There is nothing stronger in my opinion than learning in this safe environment. There is nothing Mini likes more than dressing up as a Knight and slaying dragons or saving the villagers! By not outlawing guns, I can start to influence my children’s attitudes about them rather than just pretend that violence doesn’t exist.
I would love to know your thoughts on guns and children, especially if they are a little older like my boys.
Its def a boy thing…we had much the same thoughts as youeep the guns away. And like you, sticks, hands, whatever was close became a gun a sword etc etc. So also like you we accepted that this is part of growing up, a right of passage if you like…nerf guns, water blasters etc etc…but also, eductaion on the rights and wrongs of guns, war etc…and hope they take the path we wish for them in the end. As parents, I think thats all we can do,protect, love, educate, let them go and trust!
I won’t have guns in my house either but as soon as my 5 year old son started school guns came into play. It’s nothing I can stop and I think it will have a detrimental effect if I try. It should hopefully teach him the difference between good and evil. Role playing is always a good thing and he loves dressing up as a knight with a sword, or a policeman with a made up gun.
On the last non-uniform day at school his class had to dress up with a medieval theme. There were dozens of knights with swords and they whale of a time in the playground! I was amazed the school allowed swords but they played, had fun and got it out of their system and no-one was hurt.
I can’t say I was impressed when my toddler picked up a stick the other day aimed at at the cows in a field and made shooting noises though!!
My boy is now 24 and like you when he was little I tried the No Gun rule and it backfired on me spectacularly when his dad bought home a super-blaster water pistol that looked like something out of Star Wars.
IMHO boys will be boys and it goes into a huge part of their playground games which are role play and important too for their overall wellbeing.
My ‘boy’ never turned to violence and hasn’t got a nasty bone in his body but had you seen him playing Power Rangers 15 – 20 years ago you may have thought differently. I got ‘shot’ a large number of times from every possible angle 😉
I think your last paragraph sums it up perfectly, you can’t keep them shielded from violence but you can teach them what’s right and wrong. I can remember trying to bans guns and swords when my eldest was small.
I’m with you on the no shooting computer games. Fortunately my 4yo so far isn’t into anything like this – he’s more interested in puzzles and drawing!
Not having a boy I’m probably not really qualified to comment. We have many real guns in the house, albeit safely locked away and out of reach, and there are children round here who go shooting with their dads in the fields. I think it’s a real thorny issue because even though I agree and have the same stance as you about young children not being allowed to play with guns and weaponry, as a farmer it’s just not realistic for us to have this policy. I’d rather my child was brought up to know about the dangers and responsibilities where guns are concerned, and that they are most definitely not toys. Tricky.
Meh i do not agree with any of this no guns rubbish. As a child they do not understand or recognose the violence or terror that comes along with the real thing. They are children with their imaginations, these kinda things dont even play on a childs mind. I should know, i grew up with lots of toy guns as my sister will know.
I have not gone on to become a mass murderer (look i poisoned her goldfish with custard powder and viniger but didnt shoot them!) a serial killer or a gun owner.
I inroduced mini and maxi to call of duty on the xbox. HAd i had a hill in my garden i would have had them stand at the top and intoruced them to the old game ‘what do you want to be killed by’ where you pick a weapon and then pretend that it was used to kill you. So you pick a granade and then act like you have been blown to the bottom of the hill. The person who did the best actions/death scene won and did the shooting.
Last time i checked none of the people i wet to school with murdered anyone.
I love the idea of ‘love bullets’. I have two boys and the presence or not of guns has never been an issue for us. Guess we didn’t think about it quickly enough before my 3 brothers filled the house with weaponary. My two can take them or leave them. Sometimes the guns and light sabres are involved in their play and sometimes not. I have noticed that the kids that come to play who have restricted access to these type of toys go absolutely loopy when they get their hands on our arsenal. For some visitors I hide them for all of our sakes.
I could have written this post. Like you I had no guns whatsoever when they were little, then realised that I was fighting a losing battle. Now we have wooden swords, catapults and nerf guns. Boys like playing fighting, much like dogs do. It’s park of growing up and as long as we teach them right from wrong, they’ll be OK.
My boys didn’t have any guns, they have made them from Duplo until oldest one’s birthday where they were given a small nerf gun, these were fun and I like your idea of kisses. They don’t get to play shoot games. But they do like Power Ranger, there isn’t guns in this more martial arts which they know is controlled through going to Taekwondo. I think we are the ones to take them the difference between right and wrong. x
My sister with 3 sons had the same no guns policy and the same experience as you with everything becoming a weapon. At one point she realised she was telling them all about pageantry and knights. They even went to a mock joustling tournament in the grounds of a local stately home. She suddenly felt that she was teaching them that stabbing is romantic and OK, it’s only shooting that’s bad.
I would say that my feelings are very similar to yours Jen. The twins are now 2.5 years old, and they don’t have any toy guns, and we don’t watch anything violent on the television. So far they haven’t shown any interest in shooting games or guns. I guess we’ll deal with it when it happens, but I love the idea of love bullets.
It sounds like you are doing everything right. The Love Bullets are a great idea. It’s also reassuring to know that raising boys is as fraught with difficulties and dilemmas as raising girls (not that I’m saying girls don’t want/can’t have guns…you know what I mean!)
Reminds me of when my brother was small. Mother banned guns and everything he picked up became a weapon. I really don’t want my own son to have a toy gun and dread the day he starts with the pseudo violence!
I don’t allow guns! Daniel’s 8 and still… no guns allowed in my house. No army men neither. And he isn’t allowed to do any forms of martial arts – I’m just not comfortable with him inflicting harm on others.
He got given a sword and shield a couple of years ago and I allowed those. They came with a dress up knight kit. I spoke of knights and the “olden days” and how these things WERENT DONE NOW as it wasn’t right or nice to go about fighting with people – let alone with weapons. Every days a school day.
I’m lucky that my boy has so far grown up to be a lovely consciencious boy always thinking of others. Its something that I notice, and that is commented to me about him by his school teachers and by his friends folks.
His dads in the army. He has some toy army people there. I can’t stop that… but the wee man doesn’t even like playing with them! Its not something hes scared of in case of a row by me. He knows I really dont mind him doing that at his dads. That if its ok with his dad its ok with me. (outta sight out of mind and all that).
His dad just trys to force them on him. Ever since he was a toddler and D loved to play with dolls and prams… he tried getting action man stuck on him. Yet D would prefer knights and castles and dragons….
My mum wouldn’t allow guns, swords etc in our house as kids. My brother and I were fine with it. She explained why – guns are not toys – theyre WEAPONS. and we accepted it and understood. Hell I even had a go at male pals at school that had guns and told them they were so uncool and what not.
I would NEVER buy guns etc for a kid… and I cant understand why they’re even ABLE to buy them. Why would people buy a toy gun for a kid?? To me – it’s beyond belief. Beyond ridiculous. Out of all the toys out there – why something that the real thing its modelled on kills so many??
Sometimes I have to laugh at the toys that you can buy for kids here, real tool kits, penknives etc, and whilst I don’t have a problem with the toolkits, I draw the line at replica guns though. He does have a water pistol though, two swords and a light sabre! 🙂
After living for many years with only experiencing girls, I am still astonished how different my nearly 3 year old boy is. Yes, he does love playing with dolls and prams, but there is something almost instinctive in their desire to climb, wrestle and play fight. I’m not saying the girls didn’t do this, but there is definitely a much stronger ‘need’ for Hugo to do this.
He too has also recently been shooting us. I’m assuming it is something he has picked up at nursery as I certainly won’t be buying any guns, but I do realise that you can’t suppress it completely. Like WeeWifie says when he is older I’ll be explaining the difference between toys and weapons.
I’m also going to try and keep the Power Rangers & fighty cartoons at bay for as long as I can. You can’t beat a bit of Ben & Holly/Peppa Pig/Dinosaur Train… for now.