Do you let your kids play with toy guns? Are toy guns ever okay? Discuss whether toy guns—even as play things—should be allowed and encouraged.
Like many parents, I made a few vows against vices before giving birth to my son, such as no TV, no junk food, no sleep training, no kid clutter and no taking them to the groceries or the mall (ha!). Some I abide by but most are now laughable. As it happens, one of those vows included no playing with toy guns. Well, turns out we have toy guns… sort of.
You see, I never liked or played with guns growing up. Even though I played rough and watched TV, I had zero interest in the actual shooting of the bad guys.
Perhaps more importantly, I don’t like the idea of making a game out of killing people.
Are toy guns ever okay?
She says that gun play, particularly where children create the entire scene all by themselves (as opposed to re-enacting scenes from TV shows) helps children sort through their aggression and help them beat the “bad guys” of their world.
Since kids rely on play to apply logic and understanding to so much of what confuses them, gun play seems to play a role in helping them recover lost power over the bad guys and express their aggression.
After all, kids play doctor to help them take back the control and power they lost being in the vulnerable position of patient, just as they do playing house to sort through family roles and changes at home.
Still, I draw the line at shooting or killing one another, even in play. I don’t want to diminish the reality that too many people today die because of needless violence.
As far as ridding themselves of aggression, I’d rather my kids participate in physical play. Roughhousing and running can relieve bottled up emotions just as well.
Playing killing games places less value on life, considering the deadliness of the weapons they’ve turned into a game.
But back to our guns.
We have three small water guns, purchased on a sweltering summer day when all we could find to squirt water at one another were the small ones we ended up buying. We call them “squirters” and we don’t play dead when we aim at one another.
It’s the first time our son has seen a toy gun, bu who’s to say how he’ll use these toys in the future? Will I tell him we don’t make a game out of killing people? Will doing that glorify guns even more?
Some may brush off my preference not to have guns as being too dramatic.
After all, kids who play with guns—even for killing games—don’t grow up any more violent or aggressive than those who don’t. And many supposed reasons for gun violence, including music, movies, TV and video games don’t make a person more likely to kill.
But I can’t imagine making a game out of something that’s all too real for many people. It’s like him pretending that he’s dying of an illness—it’s just not something to make light of.
Besides, dying from guns doesn’t seem all that much “fun” to me. I’d rather play a game of chase around the house.
Get more tips:
- Taking Back Childhood by Nancy Carlsson-Paige
- Why Commercial Toys Aren’t as Bad as I Assumed
- The Benefits of Open Ended Toys (plus a List of My Favorites)
- Encourage Independent Play with Your Child
- The Benefits of Pretend Play
What are your thoughts on toy guns and gun play? Do you let your kids play with toy guns? Why or why not? Do you explain the idea of guns to your kids?
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