How Do You Feel About Your Children Playing with Toy Guns?

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How Do You Feel About Your Children Playing with Toy Guns?

My son is at the age where being a hero and beating the bad guys is about the coolest thing ever. He’s developed a love of the Star Wars films, and a light sabre is firmly on his Christmas list.

When my husband recently travelled to the States with work, we put an extra-bag in his suitcase with the intention of him doing some Christmas shopping out there, as some of the children’s toys in particular are cheaper.

He rang me from a children’s toys store and talked me through some of the options. He said ooh there’s a nerf gun on offer and my immediate response was no. No, because I do not want my son playing with guns.

This has been a discussion we have been having for a few months. One which my husband has so far politely adhered to, although I am pretty sure he is just humouring me, and it’s not something he himself agrees with.

It is something I am struggling with. Guns are everywhere – films, tv and even children’s TV shows. We went on a laser ride at Legoland where the whole family got to shoot the bad guys and I have to admit it was a hoot. I guess with this week’s horrendous news it is even more on my mind. But, guns are designed with the sole intention and reason of killing another human being. For me it doesn’t sit comfortably that a 4 year old should be playing with a toy version of this.

My husband has (gently) suggested I may be fighting a losing battle. So far, my son has created guns out of Lego, Duplo, Megabloks & his toy drill also seems to make a good substitute. Where there is a will it seems, my son will find a way.

Last weekend we watched the film Big Hero 6. After a trip to the dentists this week, I had promised my son a magazine of his choice for being good – he choose the Disney one with Big Hero 6 on. Which also came with a free cross-bow. I decided a cross-bow wasn’t as bad as a gun & my son has delighted in shooting imaginary villains, so I guess in reality it’s really not much different at all.

Both my husband and I have had a chat with my son about guns – at a simple level on why I don’t like them. Now when I notice he has constructed yet another out of Duplo he will simply say to me, oh it’s just pretend Mum, I’m only shooting the baddies or it’s just a water gun don’t worry.

I suspect as media, and next year school, come into play more and more, I will have little control over this. Perhaps I am better to just let it go and continue to explain to my son why guns aren’t nice things. But it bothers me when he pretends to shoot his sister (she’s Darth Vader today Mum). In hindsight my husband played with guns as a child and he’s a good man, so maybe I am being totally over sensitive. I can’t remember if I did as a girl (I was big into my dolls), but it wouldn’t surprise me. Using my fingers as a pretend gun at least. Actually I am pretty sure I did.

So, why am I struggling to let this one go?

35 thoughts on “How Do You Feel About Your Children Playing with Toy Guns?

  1. Really, REALLY great article and so on my wavelength. My son is now 5 and I’ve never purchased him a toy gun. Whenever we’ve been in toy shops I’ve subtly steered him away from the toy weapon sections and as a result he’s never had much interest in toy guns. I’ve never made a big deal about him not having one, just suggested other things and he’s taken that on board fortunately. But now he’s older he’s been bought a few by others as gifts. Which I have to accept. My rule is that I don’t encourage it, but I know I can’t stop it. And fortunately he loves hero’s but isn’t hugely fussed about guns. Hope you find a good happy medium too! xx

    1. Thanks Chloe I think that is what we’re going to have to do – find a happy medium. I too am worried if I make a big deal out of it, it will make things worse. So I think it may be a case of graciously going with it, but not encouraging it.

  2. I’ve given in and accepted it was a battle I was going to lose. Guns and swords are the toy of choice here, but he gets lost in imaginative play with them and his sister enjoys joining in these games! We have a few rules about the ones that actually ‘fire’ things and making sure other children aren’t scared by them. Good luck! It’s a tough one!

    1. I am pretty close to giving in to be honest as he just makes them out of everything and am thinking that making rules and boundaries around them might be a better approach.

  3. Fab post lovely 🙂 and your views are fine! There is nothing wrong with not allowing kids to play with guns, I have spoken to many parents who feel the same. My son has never had a toy gun, I don’t know why, I just never got him one. If you have decided to not buy him a gun then please stick to it. Don’t give in. I am a firm believer of no meaning no! You’ve made the right choice 🙂

    Gemma xx

    1. We haven’t really said no to him to be honest, this is more about me musing over what is the right thing to do. In general yes I think no means no too. I am going to see where this one goes though as even as I write this he has a gun made out of lego he’s playing with…

  4. I really don’t like guns. Cant stand them – and have personally experienced being shot- (although it was a bb gun). I wouldn’t want my son – if i had one or my daughter Sylvia to play with guns. I wont be buying any toy guns or bringing them into my home. Of course little boys are going to role play- star wars, hero turtles, fighting the bad guys and I think it just needs to be kept in check and in balance. Light savers- are cool though!

    Angela x

    1. I think you’re right it’s about balance isn’t it. I had a chat with his pre-school teacher this week and she thinks me excluding them may make things worse. So I think we may need to find a way to make it work.

  5. I can totally see where you are coming from. Mini M is too little for this to be a problem at the moment but I don’t think I would encourage him to play with gun toys. I suppose another thing to think about is that alot of films, tv, etc comes from America where the gun culture is completely different to ours. If you look at most UK tv there aren’t guns in them.

  6. I absolutely understand where you are coming from. I was dead against Cheeky Chap having toy guns, water guns, nerf guns, toy sword, bow and arrow, everything. Much like L though, he soon managed to make them himself out of Duplo or Mega Blocks, or another toy would become a gun/sword/bow and arrow. I honestly don’t know where he picked it all up from but I guess messages are a lot more subtle than I realised. My husband was much like yours about the whole thing! I gave in last year some time, soon after he started school I realised I was fighting a losing battle.

    1. Yes even today he has made some out of lego. I think they just see their heroes etc on tv using them. I am pretty convinced it’s a losing battle to be honest and have chatted to a few people for advice – including his pre-school teacher and she has suggested that not letting him have them could make things worse. So we are debating a new approach and letting him have one with rules and boundaries instead…

  7. I think your husbands right in the sense you maybe fighting a losing battle. i was oin the same boat as you a couple of years ago. we were at the beach and another boy was playing with his toy gun teasing my son and and my son ended up finding a rock that was actually shaped like a gun and playing with the other boy. After that I slowly allowed him to play and now he’s 6 he’s not as bothered by them as he was. he still plays with them but not like he did

    1. I think so too, even since I wrote this article he seems to be playing with ones he just makes out of things more and more. Maybe by denying him I am actually making things worse, or at least that is what I am wondering.

  8. I think you are doing the right thing by explaining that guns are bad and can hurt people so that he can start to make a bit of a separation between the Star Wars type of scenario and real life. This has not come up for us yet with our boys (they are only just 3) but I’m sure it will sooner or later.

  9. To be honest it’s not something that’s ever worried me. My boys love their nerf guns which they know are never to be fired at people just targets we make.
    When I was a child I played with toy weapons as it was fun pretending to be a hero …I’ve not grow up to be someone who physically fights against evil nor have I grown up violent and partial to attacking people 😉 I think they need to be treated in the right way it’s imaginative play that’s been around for centuries. I quite like that mine want to be superheroes and rescue people 🙂
    Thanks for linking up to #Picknmix
    Stevie x x

    1. That’s good to hear thanks Stevie. I think the more I read and talk to about this it’s about teaching them what’s right and wrong and setting rules around play.

  10. Having worked in nurseries and Reception classes in Schools i have seen so regularly boys making guns out of junk modelling and lego, they use their fingers and they love drawing their favourite super heros holding all sorts guns so they can fight the villans! Letting him play with guns i think is a natural process for boys 🙂

  11. I’m totally the same with you, both me and my husband doesn’t want our kids play with guns either. Last Christmas, my son got a nerf toy gun and we hated it, we placed it in the loft so he can’t play with it, despite of him begging to have it. Although we did let him play with it but as soon as we saw him making his sister as his target, it was put away straightaway. I’m sure we binned it so to stop him playing with it. Yes, we might be over sensitive about it, but we just don’t like the thought that he adores playing gun, there’s a lot of toys out there they can play instead which is more educational. Just my opinion! Lovely post! #KCACOLS

    1. Thanks Cheryl, the problem I have at the moment is he is using absolutely everything he can as a gun – even his fingers. Cheeky monkey that he is…

  12. Luckily it hasn’t been an issue yet, but I feel the same about toy guns. At least with swords or something it’s all about the swashbuckling, and the skill, etc. Guns are just ‘bang, bang, you’re dead’. I don’t want to encourage the idea that guns are fun, or cool, or whatever, you know? I was surprised by the comments that toy guns are okay in a lot of nurseries though – my mum was a nursery nurse back in the mid 80s and she always says how they had a total ban on them, even a child making a gun with their fingers would be sat down for a talk about why it was bad. I’d always assumed they’d be even more of a no-no in those settings by now! #KCACOLS

    1. Well I had a chat with my son’s pre-school in this last week as he has been shooting other children with his fingers – argh. and their advice is that you can make it worse by not letting him play with them and he is just replicating his heroes. In his mind he is not actually killing anyone, it really is a hard one to get right.

  13. This is totally understandable. And I totally get your logic, but as you know we can’t wrap our kids up in cotton wool no matter how hard we try. So if he is already role playing with different objects, I don’t see the difference in getting him one. If it helps maybe just monitor him and if it gets to a point where you think, wow I wasn’t comfortable with that play then just sit and explain to him, I mean he is a child. Even a gun is innocent in his little innocent eyes. I hope this doesn’t come across in a mean way, that’s not at all my intention. You’re doing a fabulous job and whatever you choose to do in this situation is definitely the right one for you and your son! #KCACOLS

    1. Thanks Lex I really appreciate your comment and that is actually the conclusion I am moving towards to be honest. It has been suggested to me that making it taboo might make it worse.

  14. Great article and very thought-provoking. I approach it from a different angle – I grew up playing with toy guns, and now I play games like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto etc, and I’ve had no inclination to go on a murdering rampage, and I’m still horrified by the atrocities in Paris and across the world – I’m very much a pacifist. I see playing with guns and playing shooting games both as a harmless way of venting any frustration, but also to introduce people to the danger of guns, and it can be a good tool to teach that in real life, when you shoot someone, they don’t stand back up again. I also don’t want to make guns some kind of ‘forbidden fruit’ so that the second they’re old enough to make their own decisions, they’ll want to get real guns to see what all the hype is about.
    It’s a toughie though and I can see arguments on both sides! #KCACOLS

    1. Yes this is another great point and what has been suggested to me by my son’s pre-school making something forbidden can only make it seem more enticing. It’s great to hear your feedback – thank you x

  15. Hey lovely, i have already commented on your post. just popping over from #KCACOLS Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

  16. I know where you are coming from as we were like this with E when he was younger (he’s 5 now) We have relaxed this a little now because we came to the realisation that it is inevitable that he will want to play with things like this and the more we forbid or say he can’t, the more he will probably want to.

    Having said that its actually not been a big issue for us at all because he prefers to play with things like lego and trains. He got some nerf blasters for his birthday in May and we don’t call them guns. He understands they are not real and that they are for fun and he is not to, under any situation shoot the nerf darts into peoples faces.

    The other thing also is that his brother M (2) follows what his brother does and he is actually more excited about the nerf blasters than E is!


    1. I think I just might need to get the balance right with him, as he’s making guns with everything he can maybe it’s better to let him and educate than making them taboo I guess. Thanks for commenting x

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