Little Boys And Toy Guns

Little Boys and Toy Guns

Elliott and I played in the backyard last week and as we usually do, we look at the air force planes that regularly fly overhead. Except, this time it was different.

Elliott played with a long stick and as the aircraft flew overhead he, all of a sudden, started pointing the stick at the plane and imitated what I believed to be a shooting sound, a toy gun.  Once the plane was gone, he pointed at birds and made the same sound.

I will be honest with you in saying that I was overcome with numerous emotions as this was the first time I had witnessed this behaviour. I was upset, I was confused and I was angry…but not at Elliott.

Shielding him from violence

In the 3 years that Elliott has been with us, Mr. G and I have done everything we can to shield Elliott from any sort of violence, especially gun violence. Whether it be violence on the news, a television show, movie and particularly Mr. G’s playstation game, Elliott does not see it. Elliott does not have any toy guns or toys that promote this type of behaviour and he never will. There’s only one thing that guns are for and that is to kill, my son doesn’t need to turn this into a play thing.

So the only place he could have learned this behaviour is from other children at childcare. I fear that all of my efforts have pretty much been thrown out the window.

My anger, well it’s because I have come to realise that there’s likely to be many less stringent parents out there that allow their children to be exposed to things like gun violence and swearing, therefore, any behaviour that stems from that will likely be exposed to my child in the playground.

It’s all about values

I’m angry because it’s the first time as a mother I’ve realised that this is going to be a challenge that I will face throughout Elliott’s childhood and possibly teenage years.  I have realised that no matter what I do in raising Elliott the way I believe is right, he will always be exposed to things we are against, it is just inevitable.

There will always be children that are allowed to bring iPhones, iPads and gadgets to school at a young age when we don’t allow it. There will always be children who use foul language and my kids will likely pick it up. You get my drift….

I remember when my Mum told me about a time when I was in primary school, all of a sudden I started giving ‘the finger’ to my sisters. Mum caught me and told me that if she ever caught me doing it again she would wash my mouth out with soap (or cut my finger off, one of the two). I’d brought this little naughty little sign home from school because I’d seen the other kids doing it.

My sadness, well, it’s realising that my baby isn’t a baby anymore. It’s the fact that I can’t shield his innocent little mind from the nasties, as much as I have tried.  I know he doesn’t understand the negative behind the shooting of a gun and he’s likely just imitating another child, but still, it’s likely he will understand one day.

So really, the only thing we can keep doing as parents is what we have been doing, raising him to emulate the values that are important to our family and trying to protect his innocence as long as we possibly can.

Has this happened to you with toy guns? How did you deal with it?

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman - a lifestyle and parenting blog.She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a Mum to her 4-year-old son, 2 month old daughter, two chickens, one dog and a fish called Bob and a wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little cottage on the outskirts of Brisbane.

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19 Comments

  1. Lucy @ Bake Play Smile
    November 17, 2014 / 6:32 am

    It’s so hard to get your head around the fact that other families have such different expectations and beliefs from your own – especially when it effects you! Thankfully Elliott has you guys to teach him right and wrong!

  2. Bubfriendly Winnie
    November 17, 2014 / 8:24 am

    It’s hard isn’t it? What about the parents that let their sick kids come around to other house or still drop them off at preschool? Luckily for us we haven’t had to battle this as much as the time we are at work the kids are with the inlaws or the extended family. I’m sure the day will come though – where they will pick up all these bad habits and we will be scratching our heads too!

  3. November 17, 2014 / 8:46 am

    Regarding guns, it is very hard to shield boys from this behaviour. I wrote a post on this some time ago. With four of them in the house, I started out in the same frame of mind as you and now, while I still dislike guns and don’t wish to see them in my home, my boys DO have a ball playing with the things. We have so many Nerf guns. (I love those things!) Sadly kids can pick up so many less than desirable things at school. All I can suggest is choose a decent school with a good demographic and don’t be afraid to take action where you see fit.
    I played with guns when I was a child. I loved gun play. I think I am quite sane and safe in my old age! 😉

  4. November 17, 2014 / 11:17 am

    I suspect that there is nothing we can do to shield boys from this behaviour. This need to be physical and fight is in them, innate. I’ve never let any sort of pretend weapon in the house, and yet they create them out of anything. I’ve seem guns made out of Lego, toast, sticks, even a poor barbie doll. I think this is what boys are. They have a need to protect and dominate others. As parents, I think it is our job to allow them to practice this behaviour in a safe and appropriate way, as well as teach better ways to behaviour. Good luck with this next stage. xS

  5. November 17, 2014 / 12:43 pm

    I’ve been trying to figure this out too. We have one water pistol here but no other guns. But we visit a friend’s place and they have heaps of nerf guns, water shooters, etc. Mr 4 is at preschool where the game to play is superheroes where they pretend to shoot each other with boosters coming out of their hands. Yet…. it is the way boys “pretend play”, isn’t it? So the other day I made a cardboard “shield” for a plastic sword that was found. I think the struggle them comes with teaching Mr 4 that this is all “pretend play” and keeping it within safe parameters so no-one actually gets hurt.

  6. November 17, 2014 / 1:51 pm

    You’ve reminded me of an incident when my eldest was in year 1. She was put on decent for sticking the rude finger up at the teacher because the boys in the playground told her it was the thing to do and the teacher would like it.

    Since then, I’ve been resolved in the fact that you can’t shield your kids from everything and sometimes it’s better to introduce them to things yourself in the right way before others do.

  7. November 17, 2014 / 3:58 pm

    My boys once told their fellow Grade 1 five year old class mates that gay people are boys who love each other and lesbians are girls who love each other. I was questioned by several parents who were amazed my boys knew such a thing and of course did not think it appropriate information to she (I was relieved they said loved). I was so embarrassed! Turns out their 10 year old sister liked to tell the boys all sorts of things.

    • November 17, 2014 / 6:45 pm

      I’ve had this discussion with my 6-y-o girl ; she had a good friend in pre-school with two mummies and no daddy, so it sort of came up. I dont think it’s shocking and if you try to keep it a secret the gaps will be filled by someone else and probably less delicately.

  8. November 17, 2014 / 5:02 pm

    Sadly I recall these feelings and it does suck but all you can do is keeping teaching him your family’s values and sure others don’t do it your way but you can’t shield them forever, you just have to give them the attitude and confidence to cope and deal with it! I remember when the f bomb surfaced, could have died!

  9. November 17, 2014 / 6:40 pm

    My little poppet burst into tears before she lost her first tooth becuase her best friend’s dad told her best friend there is no such thing as a tooth fairy. OK so he want’s to keep it real with his little girl, but does he not know that imagination is also important for developing minds and emotional IQ? and does he realise the chain reaction this revelation will have through the school ground, shattering other littles kids dreams? I’m just waiting for this family to spread the hard word on Santa….

  10. Kirsty @ My Home Truths
    November 17, 2014 / 7:19 pm

    All you can do is continue to lead by example and love him and guide him. Other influences will always be at play but as long as you keep teaching him the values at the heart of your family, he will be okay x

  11. November 17, 2014 / 7:32 pm

    I have 3 brothers and I remember my mum having a strict no toy guns policy and it wasn’t an issue as far as I was aware, it may have been a different perspective if you ask my brothers. I think it is up to individual parents to decide what is best but it is frustrating when you can’t follow through with your plans when they are alone at school. I think the best we can do is teach them what is right and wrong, what is ok to do and what is not so that they can make the right decisions for themselves. This parenting gig is hard and sometimes we just have to ‘let it go’. I’d keep the gun rule and he will learn that it isn’t nice and stop playing it on his own.

  12. TeganMC
    November 17, 2014 / 8:17 pm

    I don’t think that shielding from everything that you think is wrong (within reason of course) is necessarily the right way to go about it. As you have learned, kids pick up things from all different places and I think it’s more important to keep an open dialogue with kids. Mr 5 knows that guns are bad, and that they kill people because we talked to him about it when it came up. We didn’t make a big deal about it and honestly he rarely plays ‘guns’ so I think it worked for us.

  13. Emma Fahy Davis
    November 17, 2014 / 8:32 pm

    Oh such a tough one! I guess I’ve always taken the viewpoint that my role as a parent is not so much to dictate to my children what they can and can’t do, but rather to raise them in such a way that they naturally come to the right conclusions of their own accord. So I wouldn’t necessarily say no guns in the house, but rather ‘What do you know about guns? How do guns hurt people? Do you still think guns make good toys?’
    It’s hard though – particularly as they get older and peer pressure comes into play!

  14. Alicia-OneMotherHen
    November 17, 2014 / 10:24 pm

    It is hard to know what to do. It is inevitable that these sorts of things come up. I felt awkward about having gun toys, we had the sucker dart one and water pistols here for the girls. As long as they didn’t aim them at people or animals, especially faces, then it was OK. I remember when we were kids we used old(empty) staple guns to pretend shoot each other! Boys tend to be rougher at play than girls. The boy next door is testament to that, Izzy sometimes just stands and stares at him flinging himself around all ninja like haha. She doesn’t know what to think.

  15. November 18, 2014 / 9:24 pm

    We have a 9 year old and if you went through his toy box you’d find at least 5-6 toy guns ranging from nerfs down to plastic water pistols. Like you’ve experienced with Elliot, when Blake was 3 he started picking up things like sticks and mimicking gun actions and sounds. I completely agree with what you have said we just have to instil the values that are important to our families. I always remember Blake’s preschool teacher saying to me you can try with all your might to steer clear of toy guns and swords but little people will still find a way to pretend. I will note I was not the person who bought Blake his first toy gun, I was quite mortified when it happened and I think it got hidden by me very quickly. Then as one appeared as a gift each unexpected time I’ve gradually relaxed a little more. I really do think as long as we guide our little people right, it’s just a little thing they go through and move on from.
    You’re doing great Eva! xx

  16. November 20, 2014 / 4:10 pm

    I remember feeling really similar when my son first went to day care and brought home several swear words that I had been very careful to shield him from his whole life. I felt really angry at the other parents for not being more careful because it seemed that all my best efforts had gone out the window. He’s ten now and recently he had a friend over to play and the friend asked to play a film through Youtube. I hadn’t heard of it before, but said that he could. It was a film the child said he’d watched several times before. I can’t even describe how shocked I was at how violent this film was. I had to turn it off. I hadn’t been with the boys for the first part of the film because I was putting my daughter to sleep and I was quite disturbed that my son had seen quite a chunk of this movie before I could intervene. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen such a violent film before in my life. When I turned it off, the other child was genuinely surprised and told me his mum lets him watch it. He was such a lovely boy too, from what I could tell. I guess he was desensitised to violence and that in itself is scary.

  17. Simplify.Create
    November 23, 2014 / 12:21 pm

    I only have an almost 2 year old daughter so we haven’t come across this yet but I recently did a uni placement in a year 2 class and one little boy was constantly making ‘guns’ and shooting everyone. Me included. I found it so incredibly frustrating and concerning. I’m a psychologist. My background is working with male high security prisoners so kid stuff is still a little foreign but it is concerning that some parents do not attempt to shelter a little from the violence in the world. But it’s going to happen sooner or later and is generally very harmless. Good luck.