I have always been adement that my sons will not have any toy guns nor would they even “play guns.” When they got a new Lego set with a gun in it, I took it away and told them that they were not allowed to have guns, even if they were just play guns in our home. I thought I was doing a wonderful job of sheilding my sons from the world of guns and violence. I was wrong. I realized this when my eldest son came home from Kindergarten one day and was talking to his younger brother about “killing the baddies.” Oh, my heart sank and I immediately said, “We do not talk about killing in this house.” After the words left my mouth, I wondered- was that the right thing to do? I know the importance of fantasy play for children- was that all this was? I took a step back from what was going on between my sons and decided that this is something that needed some thought. So, I thought and I read a lot and then I talked to my son. I asked him why he likes to play shooting and killing. His response? “Because his friends do it and it is not real.” I then asked him if he knew what guns were for. His response? “For getting the bad guys.” Finally, I asked him if he knew what guns actually did. His response? “You shoot them and something round comes out and it knocks other people over.” Wow. Right there with those three simple questions I learned a great deal about my son. We talked a bit more about “playing guns” and about what real guns can do. He listened and we talked some more, but he still plays “guns” at times. Mostly on the playground at school, but every once and a while it comes out in his play at home. And what do I do now? Well, I do not tell him that he cannot play “guns” anymore and I try to see the game from his point of view. We do continue to talk about the differences between real guns and play guns. We do talk about how playing guns can make others feel and how if someone wants the game to stop, he should stop. We also talk about where is is okay to play these kinds of games and where it is not. So if you are wondering whether or not I have given him back his Lego guns, the answer is no and I do not plan to. I figure, if he really wants to play guns, he will find a way, but I do not have to provide him with the tool to do so.
If you want to read more about this topic check out these links:
- Understanding Boy Aggression http://www.pbs.org/parents/raisingboys/aggression02.ht
- Boys and Guns http://www.pbs.org/parents/raisingboys/aggression05.html
- Is it the Media? http://www.pbs.org/parents/raisingboys/aggression03.html
- What Can We Do? http://www.pbs.org/parents/raisingboys/aggression04.html