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Parenting children about guns before Shooting Age

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I am a parent of a couple of kids (2 and 4) and the older one is a boy who is fascinated but very young. I'm having some problems and wondering if I could solicit some free advice on parenting preschoolers.

1) "Shooting bad guys." I am an active carrier and my boy sees my carry gun often enough to be a bit fascinated. I call it my family protection device. He often talks about shooting people, then shooting bad guys. I've told him I wouldn't shoot a bad guy, but only if they were trying to hurt us. Any other ideas?

2) Finger guns. I used to do this a LOT as a kid as I grew up with lots of cop shows and war things. But it just feels weird these days when he points his finger gun and says, "shoot!" Any thoughts on finger guns? Our line is that he doesn't get to point them at people or animals. I don't want to be a lefty pansy dad, but I also don't want my boy getting in trouble if he does this at school.
 
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The finger gun like toy guns could have the lesson of only of people are actively playing and know they are playing with you (nerf or finger guns) and could then teach not to point guns at all. Depends on age and the lesson.
 

UnionMillsNW

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1) It may help to focus the conversation on what Good Guys do. How does a good guy act? What are a good guys values? How does a good guy treat other people? Why do we treat other people the way we do?

Children, especially young boys, do not understand the finality and seriousness of death so they (like myself at that age) will be cavalier with their behavior unless directed to do otherwise.

2) Kids, especially young boys, are going to play war games. If you hand a young boy a stick it will quickly become a weapon. You'll have to determine where the line is as far as their games are concerned. Pretending to be a machine gunner on a bomber over Europe? Probably okay for a young boy. Walking around and pretending to shoot his friends? Not so much. There is a middle ground between no finger guns and all out anarchy.

Decide what values you want the boys to have and it will be easier to help teach them the right way to navigate through life.

Good luck.
 

slimmer13

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Keep teaching him safety and responsibility. When you feel he's ready, get him a .22 and take him shooting so guns aren't a mystery. But at the end of the day, play violence is very normal and healthy in boys and trying to suppress that side of them has done massive amounts of harm to our boys IMO.
 
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CHLChris
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I totally agree that allowing this creative play within safe limits is good! Thanks for these ideas.

We have connected pointing guns at people, especially with idea of "shoot" is something we don't do because of our family's value of showing love to people, God's value of loving other people. And shooting at people isn't loving, especially people like his sister and parents.

I really like the idea of pointing out the values of a Good Guy to contrast a Bad Guy. That's already a normal part of our discourse, but thinking of the distinction like that is a great suggestion.
 

bbbass

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I am a parent of a couple of kids (2 and 4) and the older one is a boy who is fascinated but very young. I'm having some problems and wondering if I could solicit some free advice on parenting preschoolers.

1) "Shooting bad guys." I am an active carrier and my boy sees my carry gun often enough to be a bit fascinated. I call it my family protection device. He often talks about shooting people, then shooting bad guys. I've told him I wouldn't shoot a bad guy, but only if they were trying to hurt us. Any other ideas?

2) Finger guns. I used to do this a LOT as a kid as I grew up with lots of cop shows and war things. But it just feels weird these days when he points his finger gun and says, "shoot!" Any thoughts on finger guns? Our line is that he doesn't get to point them at people or animals. I don't want to be a lefty pansy dad, but I also don't want my boy getting in trouble if he does this at school.
I don't profess to know a lot about kiddos. Best advice as a great greatgrandpa I can give you is to be open and honest with yours.

1. Kids are curious. Kids have heroes. YOU are his hero! Explain in honesty, and simple terms, why you wear a firearm. A policeman has a job of protecting people and himself and so must sometimes shoot others to protect the (IDK how do you say "population or townspeople to a 4 yr old, but you get the idea.) I don't think I'd avoid talking about "bad guys" (you can't say there aren't any bad guys and then warn them about well, bad guys) but let him know that Daddy wears his firearm to protect him and the family as well as Daddy himself. Talk about what good guys do... yes, it's much much more.

2. Finger guns are not okay at school, or childcare, and at people that are not involved in the game....PERIOD. It is not ok and there will be consequences for such behavior. Never point a finger gun at another to tease or worse in anger... that is not the kind of people we are.

Lead by example. Be honest and open, but keep it simple. No big words and skip the lecture BLAH BLAH BLAH where they tune you out...kids have short attention spans and have many years to learn, so they don't need to absorb the details. Just big pic thematic stuff.
 
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Hand a boy a stick, a spoon, a pop tart, whatever, he's going to pretend it's a gun. First, the pretend games were influenced by life (didn't all dads have guns way back in the day?), then by movies, later by TV, and I guess now we have to add the influence of those bloody violent computer games. When my generation was only knee high, it was usually cowboys & Indians because Roy Rogers was King and you'd better believe it. So, whatever influences the play may have changed the theme of the games over the years, but the games go on.

My own boys were raised in military communities and went to DOD schools, so pretend guns were never an issue. Seriously, never an issue . . . but that was 40 years ago and passing time may have bludgeoned even that tolerance into PC mush. I did have one regret about just letting the boys be boys. Somehow, they decided that the sound a gun made was "doosh". My mom, when she visited, had a kitten because her grandsons were playing with doosh guns.

Anyway, if I were raising the boys in modern times, I'd make sure to teach them that the world is full of snowflakes who melt at the sight of a gun, so to avoid being hassled or expelled, it is best to keep that imaginary gun (be it a finger, pop sickle stick, or whatever) concealed unless playing a game with like-minded kids around your own homes. And for gosh sakes, a gun goes "bang". If you go around shouting "doosh, doosh" you'll likely get your butt kicked.
 

Andy54Hawken

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Explain things...
Explain in clear , complete , concise terms...as bbbass stated shorter is better.
Take away the mystery of what and why you carry...take way the mystery of firearms.
Be open to questions and the showing of safe , proper firearm handling.

How the above is done , is very much dependent on the kid...and just how they learn the best...
Be it ...hands on...reading...being shown first..then doing....etc...

As for finger guns and school...
I can not speak for every educator...
I will give a reminder that we don't do that at school...but not get too worked up over it.
Andy
 
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I am a parent of a couple of kids (2 and 4) and the older one is a boy who is fascinated but very young. I'm having some problems and wondering if I could solicit some free advice on parenting preschoolers.

1) "Shooting bad guys." I am an active carrier and my boy sees my carry gun often enough to be a bit fascinated. I call it my family protection device. He often talks about shooting people, then shooting bad guys. I've told him I wouldn't shoot a bad guy, but only if they were trying to hurt us. Any other ideas?

2) Finger guns. I used to do this a LOT as a kid as I grew up with lots of cop shows and war things. But it just feels weird these days when he points his finger gun and says, "shoot!" Any thoughts on finger guns? Our line is that he doesn't get to point them at people or animals. I don't want to be a lefty pansy dad, but I also don't want my boy getting in trouble if he does this at school.
1) I don't hide it per-se, but I don't try to let my kids see my carry gun... for other reasons as well but "shooting bad guys" is one of them... I teach we don't shoot bad guys we defend our lives only, huge difference. Ages 2 and 4 is pretty young to grasp this though so back to keeping it concealed. My family knows, but there is no reason to make it a visible part of the days routine as I think that teaches responsibility.
2) I dont teach finger guns for the same reason we dont shoot bad guys. When they are old enough they can play paintball or airsoft or nerf guns as long as they know its not about killing bad guys.

Just me.
 
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While I cannot vouch for the owner of the company, I admit that is program is pretty spot on and provides a great service. Although I imagine he cannot be doing trainings at this point, he might have some materials & pointers that might help.

Kids Safe Foundation
Ive been following Derek on Facebook and even had conversations with him. Took my kids to one of his classes. I can vouch for him and his programs. Hes a great resource for any questions regarding gun safety and kids and would respond to a message.
 

turq

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Maybe a rubber band game without shirts.
He shoots you first, then you shoot him.(long bands/ less power)
Pointing your finger is real to ‘some’ people about being shot.
Have a good talk about real guns and hurting people for real vs rubber bands.

Note I was a kid but I don’t have children.
 
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CHLChris
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We don't shoot bad guys, we protect ourselves.

I really like that sentiment. I have used that concept before, but I will expand on it over time. Thanks!

I do keep my gun concealed, but it is still there. We sit close reading a book and it digs into his side...ouch, Daddy. We are about to go to the store and I have to get changed and gunned up and they follow me into our bedroom...they see me put the gun on. It happens. I want it to be hidden but not weird. He also sees the safes all over!
 

v0lcom13sn0w

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both my boys 2.5 and 5.5 have been around firearms their entire life. my oldest first shot a 22 at almost 4 years old. we go shooting regularly together. the youngest goes with us but doesnt get to shoot yet. both boys dont know any different. guns are normal...not bad, not scary, not a mystery...just normal. the oldest is very good at practicing proper firearm safety. i sugar coat nothing. i tell him i carry a firearm because it is my job and my right to protect you, your brother, mom and myself. we’re about to have a baby girl here in a couple months and she’ll grow up around firearms too.
 

scrandall01215

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This 100%. ^^^^
I was just going to say this exact thing. But mine are grown all 5
Edit
One other thing they could not point any finger or toy gun at another person until they fully understood how destructive a firearm can be. ( they can kill) and each kid understands this at different ages.
Stacy
 

bbbass

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This 100%. ^^^^
I was just going to say this exact thing. But mine are grown all 5
Edit
One other thing they could not point any finger or toy gun at another person until they fully understood how destructive a firearm can be. ( they can kill) and each kid understands this at different ages.
Stacy
BTW, I don't remember how old my kids were when I had them shoot a firearm at a watermelon from close distance... destroyed the watermelon and splashed it all over them... See firearms can be destructive, never point a gun and anything you don't want to destroy. Then they understood that safety rule very well! :D
 

Andy54Hawken

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BTW, I don't remember how old my kids were when I had them shoot a firearm at a watermelon from close distance... destroyed the watermelon and splashed it all over them... See firearms can be destructive, never point a gun and anything you don't want to destroy. Then they understood that safety rule very well! :D
I've often used this example , albeit with an apple , many times when instructing new shooters....
Works well in my experience.
Andy
 

Dungannon

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Long before my kids shot a BB gun for the first time, they knew that some things were useful but potentially dangerous. They stood at a safe distance while I used the table saw and chainsaw, then got to see the results up close. At a young age the noise alone, even at a safe distance, was enough to convince them that I was telling the truth.

I stopped one time and let them examine a wrecked car that hadn't been towed away. That was a learning opportunity about why we have rules for the road, watch out for others, and buckle up. Crashing their bicycle and daddy cutting his finger with a chisel were all opportunities for a 60 second lesson on safety [and 1st aid] and a reminder that the 'thing' is not bad, we just need to use it correctly.

They got to see the BB gun in action, and hold it to see what it felt like, but didn't get to shoot it until they could repeat the four safety rules. A few years later I knew [with both my kids, and later the grandkids] that they were ready to move up to a .22 when I saw them playing with toy guns and keeping their finger off the trigger. When I take them shooting they still get a safety reminder but now it's focused on implementation: e.g., what's beside and behind this target, where's the firing line, does everyone have eye and ear protection that fits well, are actions open and muzzles pointing downrange, etc.
 

Dungannon

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When our first child was born, my wife [bless her pea-picking heart] wanted to raise him with a minimum of gender stereotypes. When he wadded up a piece of bread and 'shot' the dog waiting for something to fall off his highchair tray, I laughed and said nature wins out. Sometime later, at a toy store, she tried to interest him in a doll; he grabbed it by one leg and threw it on the floor. As the wife put the doll back, he tottered down the aisle way and grabbed a red truck and made motor sounds. She gave up.:s0112:
 

scrandall01215

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BTW, I don't remember how old my kids were when I had them shoot a firearm at a watermelon from close distance... destroyed the watermelon and splashed it all over them... See firearms can be destructive, never point a gun and anything you don't want to destroy. Then they understood that safety rule very well! :D
That’s exactly the way I did it as well!! :)
 

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