There is a huge debate over guns of all kinds; even toy guns. The thing is, virtually every child born will at one time or another pick up a stick or a broken toy and start saying “bang bang”. Kids are imaginative. They are curious. They pick up things off the television and from other kids. However, every time a child pretends to fire a gun, parents cringe and many begin to worry about their child one day becoming evil people. Is it true? Are toy guns appropriate for children or not?
In the Beginning; Kids and Guns
Back not so long ago, it was not uncommon for children to play cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians. To say that every child who played those type games grew up to become violent is crazy. It was seen as a game and the truth of the matter was; they were learning from it. They were active and outdoors. Many of those same kids grew up to become police officers fighting the bad guys. What changed to make it wrong for kids to be kids and fight off the bad guys?
Present Day Fear of Guns
When asked, approximately 70% of parents do not allow their children to have toy guns of any kind. This is mostly due to the fact that children are carrying guns to school and doing bad things. It stems from the fact that there have been children suspended from school because they turn their fingers into a gun and say, “Boom”. Policemen have made mistakes and not realized someone held a toy gun and shot them for pointing a toy. Fear is the root of our new idea that guns should never be in the hands of children. At Montessori, we do not necessarily agree with this idea. We feel that you can turn a child’s natural curiosity into a learning opportunity, even if they have a natural curiosity about weapons.
Teaching Kids with Guns
One way that you can take advantage of teaching with guns is to explain cause and effect. Talk to them about the difference between real and toy guns. Choose brightly colored guns that look nothing like a real one for smaller kids. Set rules about where they shoot it. Talk to them about aiming and targeting specific, non-living things. If they fire at you, tell them it hurts, even if it doesn’t. As they get older, explain that toys are toys, but that some real guns cause actual pain. Explain they can be deadly. Most kids do not intentionally want to cause pain to others. They will learn from you that respecting a weapon; even if it is a toy, is important.
Older kids can also learn from discovering different parts of a gun and perhaps even using a “real” air soft gun. All guns have safety switches, triggers, barrels, and other features. Rifles have scopes like the ones seen here. Learning about the different features of a gun will teach your child about them and go a long way to keeping them safe.
Why It IS Important You Let Kids Play
Whether you have a home that has guns or doesn’t, your kids will discover their existence. If you do not have weapons around; that does not mean that your child’s friends will have a gun free home. Some parents leave guns under their beds or in cabinets. Would you rather have your child understand the dangers of those hidden treasures before they find them or have them wait to explore until they have a real one in hand? At Montessori, we feel it is best to have kids understand what they are touching when they see a toy weapon and understand that real guns should NEVER be touched.