After seeing a post on Diary Of a SAHM‘s facebook page, my husband and I got on the topic of where we stand on our children having toy guns. Although we only have girls, we do have guns in the house (highly secured and well out of sight, our girls don’t even know about them yet), my husband is a recreational shooter and is ex-military, so we are aware that eventually the girls will become curious about guns.
I don’t believe that it is the gun itself that is the root of aggression in children, I think it’s the lack of education on the negative aspects of guns. This morning I asked Emily whether she thought toy guns were good toys or bad toys, her reply was “bad toys because guns hurt people.” Her innocent four year old mind is still able to understand right from wrong, a child is never too young to have a conversation about the effects of guns in real life, just make it age appropriate.
The fact is there is a lack of evidence supporting either side of whether toy guns increase a likelihood of increased aggression. There is evidence that a combination of realistic toy guns, realistic televised violence and a violent home life will increase natural aggression. Boys, aggressive children and children with aggressive parents are more at risk to long term effects from toy gun exposure and short term effects can occur depending on the context of play. It is very important to remember play is play and violence is violence and it is up to us as responsible parents to supervise, communicate and educate. Monitor what your child is watching on television, explain that cartoon violence might be funny on tv but it wouldn’t be funny if someone did that to you in real life, discuss what would happen if it really did happen and how inflicting pain on someone is a cruel thing to do.
Whether we like it or not children will be able to recreate some sort of toy gun if they really want to, be it a stick, a finger or their imagination. Imaginary games are good for a child’s development and in my opinion, a game of ‘bang your dead’ is just ‘tag you’re it’ only without the physical contact. A game of ‘cop vs robber’ can be your child’s way of expressing an understanding of right and wrong, after all, child’s play is a reflection of the world around them and unfortunately we can’t protect our children from exposure to the real world forever.
I support a parents to decision to allow or withhold toy guns from the house, with proper supervision, communication and education your child will grow up with good morals regardless of the path you choose to take. I’m just thankful that I don’t have to worry about this choice yet, we’re playing with dolls and tea parties in our house.
What is your opinion on toy guns in your household? Feel free to link to any of your related posts!