Kids Like Guns -- So Let Them Shoot!

jasper shootingAh, my pre-parenthood self. I remember her well. So sure of herself, so principled, so deluded. "No guns for my kids!" Oh no, we were going to be a peace-loving family who had nothing to do with shooting or any other kinds of violent play. Aggression bad! Kumbaya good! And then I gave birth to a boy.

I still have not bought my son a toy gun. We did not expose him to books or movies with violence. And yet, he started shooting things just about as soon as he figured out how to point his little index finger and make that "pzchew!" sound. Turns out little boys don't need you to buy them a toy gun to shoot. All you have to do is hand them a piece of toast and they'll bite it into the shape of a pistol. And that's when I decided my toddler gun control policy needed some tweaking.

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What makes shooting so magical, so appealing? I still don't get it. But I decided that instead of making shooting deliciously forbidden -- I can only say "no" so many times in a day -- I would at least give my son some shooting play rules that still do the job of teaching him to respect his fellow toddlers.

First of all, who hates being pretend shot-at? Pretty much every kid who is not playing a shooting game with you, but especially the softies. Have you seen the little lambkins? The toddlers of delicate sensibilities who burst into panicked tears if you so much as point a finger at them? They're not always girls, either. Regardless, let's not make them cry.

On the other hand, if you and some aggression-happy kid want to get together and shoot each other, great. Have at it! Except stop when your friend wants to you. Also, feel free to shoot things, including sofas, empty parked cars, dogs that are larger than you, your lunch, and Mom's knees. (Whatever, I'm over it.) Make sure the bullets are always, ALWAYS imaginary.

I like to think these rules helped curb my son's aggression. I guess I'll never know how much worse he would have been without the toddler gun control. It didn't completely stop him from biting, hitting, wrestling, and kicking other kids from time to time, but I think it at least made him more aware of other kids' feelings. And maybe that's the most we can hope for with toddlers.

Do you have "shooting rules" for your toddler?

 

Image via Adriana Velez

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