17 answers

4 Year Old Playing Cops & Robbers

What do all of you think about kids, mainly boys, playing cops & robbers? I live in a neighborhood on a cul de sac of mostly boys ranging from 4-8 years old. When we’re outside playing it seems that all they want to do is get their water guns/dart guns and play shoot em up. I have a 4 year old and over this weekend he actually got in and joined the cops and robbers game. The boy who always seems to initiate this game came running out and handed my son a dart gun and said “I’m the bad guy” and showed him how to use the Nerf gun. One of the Moms commented “what is it about boys that they want to play pretend guns?” Everyone laughed.
Truly I just wasn’t comfortable watching all these boys pretending to shoot at each other so I made an excuse that we had to go inside. The other Moms just continued talking away and not minding that the kids were playing this. Is this normal at such a young age? Do I need to get over it? LOL
I’ve always thought it was strange watching the little guys “shoot” at each other but watching my son join in, I’m not comfortable with it.
What are the opinions of all you Moms out there? I want to hear both sides. Thanks a bunch!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I know you have filled in the "so what happened" part of this, but as someone who loves guns (the real type) and actually likes to go out range shooting, I still don't think it appropriate for kids to "play" guns. Kids seem to think that guns are toys, but in reality they are weapons and should be treated with respect. I know you can teach them real gun safety at 3 and 4 years old, and I would recommend doing that. I firmly believe that kids NEED to know how dangerous a gun really is because there are idiots out there. If that means taking that child to the range and having him see a watermelon the size of his head blow up when when it is hit with a bullet and then explaining that same bullet can do that to his head, DO IT. There are some great websites for this like http://www.corneredcat.com/ she is a woman that raised 5 boys and conceal carried a gun the whole time. And form some of her stories you can tell her kids were handfuls!

2 moms found this helpful

I see no problem with it.I played with boys when I was little and we played the same stuff when I was a kid and none of us grew up to be a " bad guy" or police officer. In fact I don't know anyone that did grow up to be a "bad guy".
Relax mom he will be fine. He will likely grow out of it.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

I tried to keep my first son from guns, but every stick became one. My second son, I don't try at all. He's 8 and has a BB gun, air soft guns, water guns, play guns, nerf, etc. Of course, we live in Texas, the land of guns, but still - it's in a boys nature. I know many parents don't agree with me, but I'd prefer to teach him the safety rules of the guns that actually shoot things (nerf, bb, airsoft) and let him lead his fantasy life of army, etc. I believe that if I teach him to be a good person, he won't use guns for bad purposes. Just like putting a teen in the driver seat of a car (another deadly weapon) doesn't mean they will be dangerous speeders that run over children. You teach them responsibility.

3 moms found this helpful

I do play therapy with kids and guns are a symbol of power, not of killing or hurting, but power. You give a kid a pencil, heck, they'll use their fingers and they'll pretend to have a gun, again, power. So, it is normal.

My daughter is three and the first time I gave her a super soaker, she loved the power that came w/ soaking mama and, for fun, I over dramatized her power over me. For those kids who have little say and no power of choice at home, I would worry. Parent who raise their kids with the power of choice have little need to worry about the symbolism of a gun.

I would oversee how the kids choose to play together. It is aggressive, in good fun, might makes right, etc? The fact the kid taught him how to play tells me he wanted to share the power, to join in the fun, rather than I want to shoot you and have power over you as initiating play. Do watch though..

Know that I am absolutely for gun control, way on the left, and that I feel comfortable with this type of play (I emphasize play) because I will eventually talk to my daughter about what guns literally as opposed to figuratively in play.

J.

2 moms found this helpful

I see no problem with it.I played with boys when I was little and we played the same stuff when I was a kid and none of us grew up to be a " bad guy" or police officer. In fact I don't know anyone that did grow up to be a "bad guy".
Relax mom he will be fine. He will likely grow out of it.

2 moms found this helpful

Yes, you need to get over it, that's what boys do. I think it must be in their instinct to protect, and nothing protects better than a gun. I think so many people are afraid of guns, simply because they don't know how to use them. My hubby bought me gun for my b-day 4 yrs ago, and I finally learned to use it a few weeks ago. I was pretty nervous about using it, but once I learned how, and that it can't just go off, I'm fine carrying one. Let your boy be a boy, and I'd bet if you took some classes and did some research, you will think differently. :-) Cities that allow concealled carry have less crime. You never know who is carrying a gun, and the bad guys know that, so they're going to go places where they know nobody will have guns.

2 moms found this helpful

We did that growing up. It's natural.

2 moms found this helpful

I know you have filled in the "so what happened" part of this, but as someone who loves guns (the real type) and actually likes to go out range shooting, I still don't think it appropriate for kids to "play" guns. Kids seem to think that guns are toys, but in reality they are weapons and should be treated with respect. I know you can teach them real gun safety at 3 and 4 years old, and I would recommend doing that. I firmly believe that kids NEED to know how dangerous a gun really is because there are idiots out there. If that means taking that child to the range and having him see a watermelon the size of his head blow up when when it is hit with a bullet and then explaining that same bullet can do that to his head, DO IT. There are some great websites for this like http://www.corneredcat.com/ she is a woman that raised 5 boys and conceal carried a gun the whole time. And form some of her stories you can tell her kids were handfuls!

2 moms found this helpful

I had to click on your name to see if we lived in the same cul-de-sac when I read your post!!! The kids in my neighborhood are ALWAYS playing "guns" or whatever it is they do, since some of them were 3 years old. I was so anti-anything gun until about 3 months ago when my son (6) got his very first nerf gun... my in-laws couldn't believe I actually got him one lol. I think it really depends how the kids are playing. If they are not being super violent then it maybe isn't as big of a deal. The kids around here, however, will shoot even at adults, screaming "DIE DIE DIE!!!" They are a little too obsessed with the shooting games if you ask me and it really freaks me out actually. Needless to say, my kids do not play with the neighborhood boys, but I HAVE lightened up a little on the gun thing. Maybe wait another year or so if you feel uncomfortable. Once your son is a little older it will be easier for you to talk to him about what is real and what is not, etc. :)

2 moms found this helpful

We had the same concern as our boys grew up (8&12), we agreed from the begining that we would not buy, promote or alow any gifts that had to do with guns or violence. It was a shock to us when we found a pretend to be gun made from wire hanger, cardbord, clips and stuff in our son's room under the bed, he was 6 at the time. We decided that it was a boy's thing, no metter how, and we confirm it with our second child, same story. Now the 12 as grown out of it, but the 8 year old plays with his playmates with the safest that we bought, those nerf ones. Now sometimes they play with them and most of the time they play base ball or fut ball or many other things, and then eventualy they will come back to the nerf stuff. It is almost imposible to get rid of that influence, it is everywere, the best that has work to us is provide other options as much as posible, and be more aware of other playmates.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with you...I'm not comfortable with it...I don't make a huge deal about it...I am aware that 'taboo' can become very desirable. Thus far we've been able to come up with more exciting things to play and ways to use our imagination...than 'killing'. To me, and that's fine if somebody disagrees, but to me, taking life is not a game. Yes, a lot of us, and a lot of our parents played cops and robbers and shoot-'em-up as kids...but there weren't articles in the paper on a regular basis of kids killing kids (and adults)...they/we were watching the Andy G. Show and the Cosby Show at night. I think it's much harder...and much more 'natural'...for boys that are exposed to various types of media. Be it video/computer games or movies...the media is becoming more and more violent...and we are becoming more and more desensitized. Kids are excellent 'creators'...they don't need to be destroyers. Also, the elementary school here does not under any circumstances allow any of that sort of play at school...so we just continue that rule at home...it's actually been pretty easy. To each his own...do what works for you...but this has been one thing we've been able to do in our family without creating an issue....it just is the way it is. My kids know it and they know why...and they don't appear to feel deprived!

1 mom found this helpful

If you don't like the idea of your kid shooting at other kids but want to still let him play can you buy or make targets for your yard. Make it a game or contest for the kids. Colored water for water guns and a velcro type for the nerf guns.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm with you. I'm not very comfortable with the idea of my 3yo son playing guns (he hasn't yet). I have intentionally avoided giving him water guns, pretend swords, or anything of the kind. He never watches superheroes and doesn't yet understand the concept of "good guys" and "bad guys." Once he was at a friend's house who was pretending to shoot him. My son imitated his friend, but he didn't really understand what was going on. He hasn't repeated the behavior since.

To answer Karma I's question about why gun play bothers me in such young children, it's mostly because I don't enjoy the idea of power coming from even the idea of harming someone else. I have a similar aversion to kids pretending to punch or hit each other. I know that, as he gets older, this sort of play is unavoidable, but right now, when he is not in school and primarily under my watch, it is avoidable. Rightly or wrongly, I feel the earlier they are exposed to pretend play that, if played out in real life could result in serious injury or death, the more desensitized they become to violence.

Put it this way, wouldn't we discourage our children from saying unkind words to other kids, even if they say they are only "pretending" to be mean or don't really understand how hurtful their words are? I don't understand why I wouldn't discourage my child from pretending to *do* unkind things to other kids - and I really can't think of anything less kind than shooting someone.

All that being said, again, I know that I can't keep my child in a bubble forever, and once he's in school and around other children who engage in these sort of behaviors, he's going to imitate it. At that point, I will go into "gun safety" mode and try to teach him the real-world ramifications of such actions.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm not comfortable with this kind of play either. I think it promotes a culture of violence. Don't be afraid to stick to your convictions and use it as a teachable moment with your son.

1 mom found this helpful

It is so strange I was just discussing this subject with one of the teachers at my preschool. She is the teacher of my two year old class and on Friday they were playing with the large lego blocks. Quite a few of the boys made the blocks into guns and danced around the room pretending to shoot each other. Of course she immediately stopped it because we do not allow gun play at school, but the question was is it intuitive for boys to play with guns like it is for girls to play with dolls. They are 2 years old I am almost positive they haven't seen it on tv, unless their mom's and dad's allow them to watch cop shows (which I doubt) So I am just as curious to see the responses you get on just how common it is for boys to intuitively play with guns and shoot em up games.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm with you...I have a four year old and I don't let him play with guns. When he pretends that something is a gun I tell him to knock it off or I'll take it away.

I know people think it's fine and "normal" but it's just not what I want him playing. There are plenty of other ways to play. I think it's up to you...what do your values tell you to do? What does your gut feel? Then decide...no judgement one way or the other, just what's best for your family.

Good luck!
-M

1 mom found this helpful

Hello, We went through this with both of our sons and now with grandsons. We offered the same toys to our sons and daughters. The girls gravitated to the dolls and "girlie" things and the boys gravitated to the cars, trucks and "boy" things. If there weren't guns available, they used their fingers. Go and figure!! Our rule has always been that we don't point guns at people or pets. I'm sure that when we weren't looking they did it anyway, but we had to try. Our sons did not grow up using guns on people or animals. It's just like anything, you have to have rules.
Good luck with your precious son.
K. K.

1 mom found this helpful

I am right there with you! I have had such an issue with this. My husbands family hunts, so I knew there might be some sort of draw to guns. So I have been very nervous about it and it has totally been on my radar since I have THREE boys. But before I knew it my twins were learning guns at preschool (on the playground). They do not have play guns at my house, not even water guns--because I was so against it. They hardly watch tv or play video games, the tv they do watch is very juvenile (noggin). They have never even seen Toy Story, lol. So they are not getting this anywhere but from other kids. I am a total animal lover. And thankfully my kids have gotten that quality from me. We have talked about war, and how people are killed by guns and the like during war. I have tried to steer them in the opposite direction of guns. But that did not stop them from playing "guns, army guys, cops and robbers etc". It irritates me to no end. They can find a gun shape in almost anything, a sandwich for example. They will bite off bits here and there and then say "look a gun". Sticks, legos pretty much anything can be a makeshift gun. It amazes me! And now my 3 year old is learning all this. I hate it, but have come to realize it is obviously quite natural for them to gravitate to this. I have let up on it all, tried to have rules about not shooting anyone or animals but they do it when your not looking. I cant even stand the sound they make, that shooting sound, it's like nails on a chalkboard for me! Recently we have started going to friends houses (I stay there with them) and one of their new friends has a nerf gun and a "blaster" I think from toy story or star wars. So it is unavoidable in my opinion. I cant not let my kids play with other kids who happen to have toy guns at their house. And I cant expect of ask parents to put their toy guns away when we come over. So I am just going to have to deal with it...and cross my fingers my kids dont turn into gun fanatics ;) I will leave you with this... I read an article a few years ago in Mothering magazine of all places and the stance was basically if you forbid and dont allow them to play them they will gravitate even more to it. If you can find the article, I highly recommend reading it. It was really eye opening, and made me feel a little better about allowing them some freedom. Mothering magazine is quite earthy and au natural type of a magazine--if you have not read it before. So I really trusted them in being honest about this issue. As I would never have thought they would have taken the stance that they took. As with anything, you only make it more intriguing when you deny someone or yourself something, or keep your head in the sand or have blinders on! Think chocolate or whatever your weakness is. This also reminds me of teen sex and how parents think "not my kid"... At any rate I am still hoping it will pass sooner rather than later! Good luck to you, I wish you peace with this.

Updated

Here is the article. I think this is a must read for all parents!!!!

http://www.mothering.com/parenting/bang-bang-youre-dead

1 mom found this helpful

Here is a link on a good article about that:
http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=679

all the best,
Susan

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