We just got back from a fabulous Disneyland vacation. Magoo didn’t vomit all over the hotel room and Laylee didn’t get a 103 degree fever and wake me up every 20 minutes all night long.
I did break one of my strictest parenting rules and buy Magoo a piece. How do you deal with violent toys at your house?
Antique Mommy says
So far, Sean has not shown much interest in guns or violent toys. He has a few guns at the bottom of his toybox for his cowboy outfit and that’s it. I don’t think he would even notice if they went missing (as annoying toys are inclined to do).
My parenting approach to most issues (other than respect and obedience) what I call “Whatever Dude”. In other words, I just kind of stand by and watch and let things take their course and try to avoid making “it” and issue.
Stacey @ Happy Are We says
This is a hard one for me. After having three girls, we had a boy, and I determined there would be no toys in our house that could “kill,” even in play. Well…our first son is 7 now, and I’ve caved on two types of weapons: a Harry Potter wand and 2 light sabers. He does the whole Captain Jack thing, too, but uses the light sabers to make himself a swashbuckling sword. 🙂 For me, I guess I rationalize it by considering a wand and light saber to be just fantasy weapons – nothing he’s going to find in the real world. And no one is “killed” in his games, but sometimes they are “toast”. 🙂 Still no guns, though. I just get wiggly in my gut about making that into a fun toy. Just my 2 cents!
I was bound and determinded not to have weapons in my house. That was a long time ago. I soon realized that if I didn’t buy the guns they would make them. From sticks, hangers, cardboard. There is something fascinating to boys about guns. You can lay the blame purely on that male chromosome. So I changed tactics. (Why not teach gun safety while they are little).
You could have Magoo store it in a box (gun safe) that isn’t mixed in with the regular toys. Take him outside and let him target practice on mythical animals, evil trees etc. But if you ever catch him pointing the piece at people, or leaving it laying around where anyone can pick it up take it away.
My own boys have graduated to airsoft guns – I wouldn’t recommend this move until Magoo is a teenager. The same rules apply. However if they mess up now, once the gun is confiscated it doesn’t come back.
All Adither says
Luckily Fruit Bat hasn’t shown interest yet. He really just likes cupcakes and candy. And perhaps the odd octopus at the aquarium.
Not Too Pensive says
As an old college friend of your brother who went shooting with him a few times, I would say the following:
Toy weapons are a vital part of a boy’s life growing up. I would never imagine denying a daughter all the dress-up, imaginary toys she needs to fulfill her own adult fantasies – fake wedding/ball gowns, dolls, etc., things that she should not have in real life until she is much older and more responsible – and I think a similar approach to toy weapons can be taken.
Boys like to “shoot” each other like girls like to dress up with each other. It’s fine and healthy. Boys play war, and if they don’t have the actual toys, they will use substitutes, like sticks or soda bottles. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with it – violence isn’t always bad, after all (quite often, sure, but not always), and when boys look for role models, they often look to policemen, soldiers, and even hunters – all have firearms.
I think the issue has more to do with teaching children to better differentiate between play and fantasy and real life.
Yes, there have been kids who have shot up schools, but there are millions upon millions of boys who have played with toy guns and remain generally non-violent people, myself included.
Obviously, precautions should be taken – avoid getting any guns that look real, as there have been some very unfortunate circumstances with children having guns that look real.
All of the above, however, must be tempered by the advice that REAL weapons should be kept locked away, inaccessible to children, and that children should be taught safety rules as soon as they are old enough to understand them.
A man I knew had a unique method for this – he took his kids shooting at a young age with a large pistol, very carefully observing them and basically doing everything (holding, pointing, turning the safety off, etc.) but pull the trigger. One shot was enough – the recoil, noise, and shock of it all scared them so much they took no interest in them (he used a big .45 ACP, not a little .22). He continued to keep them locked up, of course, but if the kids ran across them, they wouldn’t mess with them, either. His daughter later proved to e a natural at shooting and better than him, but gave up due to a lack of interest, which simultaneously disappointed and relieved her father.
So get him a toy gun or two, but make sure you keep any real weapons you have (knives guns, pointy sticks, whatever) safely stored and locked away.
Fawn– that’s a good idea.
I have come to realize too, that you almost can’t escape it. Men are natural protectors and boys are gonna be men someday. I really think the whole gun/sword thing has to do with making themselves feel strong and safe. When I think of it that way, I feel better about it.
And we have a rule in our house– you don’t attack someone who is unarmed.
Well….we never did. We did not allow violent toys in our house. Once in a while my step son would come over for visitation with a cowboy pistol and when he wasn’t looking, I would hide it until he left. He never asked where it was because we kept the boys busy.
I would say though, that at times, I have had to talk to my kids when they play with neighbor kids and pretend to be shooting. We have a little sit down and we’ve talked about how killing people is wrong and we should not pretend we are. I’ve allowed them to pretend to hunt for food, but I’ve told them that killing animals for fun is not right either. We only take what we need and nothing more from creation.
That might not be helpful, but I’m a pacifist and I’ve tried to impress upon my boys that guns are no ok with us. Neither one have ever played in any length violently.
I think the level of “violent play” depends on what kind of action they are seeing at home. If the worst is a a Tom & Jerry sword fight, then it probably won’t get much worse than that. If he’s watching major action movies and tv shows over your shoulder you can probably expect to see him reinact it.
I’ve found that a little boy will turn anything into a “weapon” by the time he’s a certain age regardless of what he views. I’m pretty vigilent about what my kids view but it never stopped my son from turning everything from tinker toys to empty toilet paper rolls into a pistol or sword.
We haven’t had much problem. She mostly just uses her icepick on balls of playdough…. 🙂
As someone who grew up with (real) guns I don’t have a problem allowing my son (or daughters) to have toy guns. I’ve taught them the difference between real and toy and to never point any weapon at a person.
I agree with Karen’s comment that children will tend to mimic what they see. Limiting what children see and having ongoing conversations with them is what’s going to help them learn about the world around them – including guns/weapons.
I too was adamant about violent toys not being allowed on our house. That was when my son was little.
We’ve never pushed him toward “boy” toys or away from “girl” toys. But he gravitated towards all things that weren’t pink or frilly.
Not having any guns or swords just stimulated his creativity. He made them out of Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, Legos or sticks.
I have since had to relax my rules because not to would mean me yelling at him all the time about not playing that way.
We talked to him about violence and he’s not allowed to point his toys at anyone (or anything, like our cat) and if we catch him “killing” things he gets a warning.
Like Not Too Pensive, I really do think little boys are wired differently than little girls. I gave up trying to fight it. We teach him respect and the idea that real guns are not toys.
I agree wholeheartedly with what Not Too Pensive wrote.
Boys need the freedom to be boys. In our home we allow toy weapons, and it is not a source of worry for me. In fact, toy guns have been an excellent way for teaching real gun safety.
My son loves donning his police uniform or his military camouflage (Halloween costumes from years past that he can’t bear to part with, despite having nearly outgrown them), armed with his bright orange plastic toy gun (that makes an annoyingly gratifying pop! sound), plastic handcuffs, plastic grenade, etc.
I know there are many who would disagree with me, but I think this kind of imaginative play is healthy, and helps him gain confidence as he moves through boyhood towards becoming a young man. I would not deny him the toy guns any more than I would the whooping and hollering and playing in the dirt — although I *do* outlaw the pop noise in the house, as it makes my non-boy-hardwired brain implode. 😉
Yep. Agreeing with Fawn, Not Too Pensive, Stephanie, etc…
I was “No Weapons” until my son was two and ate his pb&j sandwich into a gun and started “pew, pew, pewing”…
We discourage shooting AT people – and encourage imaginary objects or inanimate objects (trees and couches). Lightsabers, however are different. We have lightsaber parties at night. The boys AND girls love it.
I grew up with lots of restrictions, so I decided instead of creating limits that might intensify curiosity (in this particular area), we’d give boundaries. I had a friend as a child (I was 11, he was 8) who was killed by a friend – they were “curious” about a gun… so my worry is more about whose home my children are in, if they have REAL guns – and if so, where are they kept. THAT’S where my big restriction comes in.
Every family/individual child is so different, and strong limits may not encourage someone to be drawn to the, but I know me, and my son is just like me – so the thirst has been quenched… Plus he gets to play and imagine… it keeps him moving… and he still knows how to be sweet and snuggle his little sister 🙂
My brother wasn’t a good example of a gun-totting male either, so it was a huge concern of mine when my 1st was approaching that age – the play gun age which follows learning how to walk, it seems.
At first I was all NO GUNS! NO WAY! NO HOW! Then, I chilled out. I read a study where a boy was raised in the middle of nowhere, no tv, no exposure to violence, no hunting . . . he bit his toast into the shape of a gun. . . that got me thinking.
Now that the boys are older, they don’t play like that too much. When they were little (and this applies to my daughter too) they were told not to point at people or animals and if they did, the weapon would be taken away. Basically I said, “If you can’t handle playing by the rules, than you can’t play at all.” And it never was an issue, despite my fears.
It’s so hard though, I know.
Oh dear, that was one of those “don’t die on that hill” items for me. My son (age 4) has guns and swords. Pretty much everything he (or anyone else) owns turns into some sort of a weapon. Sticks are especially versatile.
I did think of banning toy weapons, but my husband over ruled me (he actually does sword fighting). Oh, well. My son says, “please”, “thank you”, “yes ma’am”, and “may I be excused”. So, I’ll go with that for now. But we do have a rule about no swords or guns at preschool. 😉
I’m totally anti-gun, but my son is crazy about them, too. What is that about?! He turns absolutely everything into a “shooter.” I broke down and bought him this retro-looking space blaster which resembles something Elroy Jetson might’ve played with. It looks nothing like a real gun. So imagine my shock when I put batteries in it and discovered that instead of making lazer-type noises or whatever I imagined it would do, it sounds like a GUN.
Now I’m trying to figure out how to make it disappear.