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September 18, 2004



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My county and some other towns surrounding my county got some bad flooding. The toy time by my area was totally destroyed. All the toys that they had saved up for the kids were destroyed. I have a bunch of old toys that I was going to get rid of anywho and I wondered if I should give them to toy time? Would it be better if I gave them to toy time or the salvation army? and do they take other toys besides stuffed animals? Like do they take barbies and stuff and do you have to wash everything before you give it to toy time? Thanx!!!!


If parents would let kids be kids instead of foisting their own insecurities and psychosises upon them or micromanaging their lives, there's a better than even chance the kid will grow up to be a well adjusted adult.


i dont know what all the fuss is about i am 15 living in the uk we dont have many guns exept for a spot of hunting or realy use guns as a fashion accesory like the yanks but i still know if you dont let your children play with toy guns they will have no good childhood memories for starters and i do not think there was a single boy down our road who didnt come out and shoot some imaginary germans but the more you play the more you want to learn about them and you become wise then discover girls and you become too embaressed yo go out with a toy gun.

tis my theory


i am 14 and have a bb gun i say suck it up! they will understand as they grow up and they will lose interest

Danae Lamarre

I found this link lookin for help with the very same issue. My husband and I have restricted gun play as well. As you already know, boys will make guns out of other toys like in our case: LEGOS.
I am truly stumped as to what to do about it. I've had the gun safety discussion with both my boys. One age 7 the other 4. But I just don't think they get it. They still continue to play cops and robbers with the boy next door, even though they've been scolded, grounded, etc. I have a strong conviction that guns are only for cops and military, and yet, I feel like I may as well give up trying to stop my kids from playing guns. I have never had such a problem with disobedience form my kids as I do with this. Maybe if I stop making a big deal out of it, they won't be so attracted to them.
I know what guns can do in the hands of kids. My friend's son accidently shot and killed his best friend with a gun (that was locked up.) Consequently he couldn't live with the guilt and hung himself in juvenile hall. They were 14 when it happened. So I am very afraid.


I am of the camp of education. If we educate our children on guns they are more likely to make wise choices in regards to guns. Our 4 year has toy guns, dad has hunting guns in the home. Locked and properly stored! My son knows to never aim any gun (toy or real) at people. To always know your target and pay attention to your surroundings. That guns are very dangerous and must be used with great care. Do not touch an unknown gun without permision and supervision.

If we don't talk to our kids about things...who is? What will your son do when he is 12 and at a friends house and comes across a gun? Will curiousity of the unknown do harm? Will he touch it and not tell you because you have told him to NEVER play with guns? Or will he know the facts and respond appropriately? It's up to you.


Listen, those so-called "studies" you read are full of it. The reason your kid is upset is because you restricting him from play. What you should do is put him through some sort of gun safety course (without using real guns that is). Children need to test how far they can go, so you can't let him go too far. I hope this was informative to you.


I have girls, so I can't relate. However it is my understanding that whether you buy toy guns or not, they can (and probably will) take anything that's lying around the house and turn it into a weapon.

A friend's sons had a deadly fight with fresh baguettes, for example. ;)


First, I think it is very difficult for people who live in cities to understand why people have guns at all because they don't go hunting, and they don't get it. Second, I know as a Canadian, guns just aren't around as much as in the U.S.
Finally, I think the toy gun (or toy weapon) thing is a gender issue and directly connected to North American culture. When my three daughters were young (ie. under 6), it was soooo easy. I remember one time when a friend's boy showed up with a very real looking machine gun - I took it from him, reminding him of our zero tolerance policy on weapons, and threw it in the garbage. Meanwhile, many years later, we had a boy! By this time, my girls were young teens and they bought super soakers (giant water guns). Of course, I couldn't control what they bought with their own money, but it made it very difficult to control the type of play in our house, and from that point it all went to hell - not only did the boy want water guns, he wanted to play video games which had all kinds of fun shooting, killing, maiming, etc. And then his dad decided he liked doing this male bonding with his son!!! All of a sudden we had guns, swords, and video games in our house. I just didn't get it. Now, a few years later, I am finally starting to understand and accept that boys want to be like the men they see on TV, their own dads, uncles, older boys, etc. Many of these role models use guns, martial arts and other weapons. The tricky part is drawing a line in what seems to be a very gray area about what type of violence is "ok" or not.


First, thank you all for your thoughtful comments.

I felt compelled to respond to Darby's. She is right that he's upset due to what he sees as conflicting issues - older neighbor boy (Andrew) is allowed to play with guns and Daddy has guns, so he thinks, "I must be allowed to have guns, too."

Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Andrew is 10 and has a better ability to distinguish between what's reality and what isn't. At 4, Nathan doesn't. Also, what's o.k. for an adult or an older boy isn't o.k. for a 4 year old. That goes from everything from scary Harry Potter movies and books to tackle football.

Bottom line - we told Nathan we didn't like that Andrew had toy guns because GUNS AREN'T TOYS. However, we chose not to create a scene by taking away the gun in front of Andrew and his entire family in order to to keep the peace between neighbors. If they think it's o.k. to let the older kids play with toy guns, that's their right as parents. I'm not going to interfere with that.

However, I'll speak with Andrew's mom next time I see her about not letting Nathan play with guns when he's over there because I know she's the type to respect our feelings as well. There's a time and place for everything and we felt taking it "offline" with Andrew's parents would be more appropriate than chastising Andrew and Nathan in front of a crowd.

The main issue we're having with Nathan and the gun was that after being told, "You don't shoot at people," Nathan continually shot at me and his sister. He wasn't pretending we were monsters. He was shooting at us and finding it terribly funny. We felt that the gun was so attractive and tantilizing that it was impossible for follow our wishes.

Also, buying him the space age gun was a complete screw up by us which just increased his anger and frustration.

I wish it was as easy as Goldberry's suggestions. Unfortunately, since family and friends own hunting rifles, and good guys like the police, forest rangers and soldiers have guns, we can't tell him only bad guys have them.

All we can do is tell him that guns aren't toys, lock up our guns, and pray that he doesn't come across a real loaded pistol in someone's nightstand during a play date.


I think I have to disagree. I don't think it the toy GUN that's making your son moody, I think it's the conflict in messages he's receiving.

The gun is a gift. The neighbour boy, whom he looks up to, who is a *good guy* (confirmed even by you, because you let him come around and play), likes guns (and likes him) enough to give him one.
And you ARE willing to let him play with it, so long as the neighbour boy is there. So, he has the experience of fun and play with the gun (HIS gift, HIS property).
Yet, as soon as the boy is gone, you take his gun away. You tell him the play, that he took so much pleasure in, that felt so good, is bad. He shouldn't play like that.
It's okay for the neighbour boy to do it, but not him. His pleasure was wrong.

And yet, you own guns yourself. He's seen them. So, it's okay for you, and it's okay for the neighbour boy, but it's not okay for him (even though the neighbour boy thinks it is).

Yep, I think in your son's case, I'd be pretty sulky and aggressive, too.

The culture in our neck of the woods is a little different. The children here prefer swords and knives to guns. Yet my children have still played at some pretty horrible things. I remember once looking out at them, 3 and 4 years old, pretending to boil a baby doll alive and then serve her up for lunch. (Thank you, Brothers Grimm!) After few minutes I decided I'd heard enough of this particular game and distracted them with the promise of water balloons.

I prefer not to put limits on my children's pretend play, or tell them that pretending certain things is bad. I think they do know the difference between real and pretend. I know it's how they deal with scary things (read Bruno Bettelheim). At the same time, I don't hesitate to redirect if their play is bothering me.

Their thoughts are their own. Your son started off killing bad guys. Instead of directing him to kill say, just monsters because bad guys are people too, or giving him the shiniest coolest new bow and arrow set you could find (and then discretely making the gun disappear), you turned it into an issue of right and wrong, him and the neighbour's boy against you. I honestly think a lot of the "dire consequences" here weren't caused by the toy gun, they were caused by the way you handled things.

But that's just my opinion, of course.


I nannied for a girl who thought it was funny to shoot at me and my daughter. I was disturbed because she never had agressive behavior until now. I sat her down and told her that bad guys use guns. They use guns to hurt other people and sometimes guns could hurt people you love. That's the reality of it all. Her Mom has always been very honest with her children, so I had no problem relaying this honest message. I asked if she was a bad guy who wanted to hurt people and she replied no, with a sad face. It hurts to explain stuff like this to a child, but she NEVER played with toy guns again. The following day, she walked up to me and explained that bad guys use guns and she was a good guy. She didn't want to hurt anybody. We hugged. And that's how it ended. If a real gun was placed near her, I can't say what she would do. Children have minds of their own. Its scary to think about.


That's a tough situation. I really feel for you. As the mom of a 6 month old girl, my experiences don't offer many similarities. Yet!

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