What would you do with this kind of behavior?

Tracy - posted on 04/19/2012 ( 9 moms have responded )

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My son is normally a very tender little guy (he's 5 btw) who has never really had any behavioral issues other than being pretty energetic. He's a lover! He likes to protect the little kids at his preschool and loves to cuddle. Lately he's been really into superheros, karate, star wars, etc which I realize is completely normal, but he's starting to get into trouble at school for "play fighting" with other kids. They pretend to have guns or swords etc (which are prohibited in our house, even as toys), and he goes to a Christian preschool that doesn't allow that type of play. That was already bothering me, and then tonight I heard him playing while I was making dinner: he was pretending to be in a fight and he said, "I'm going to beat you to death!" I completely lost it. I told him he was never ever allowed to talk like that and it was a disgusting way to speak. I sent him to his room and promptly got a garbage bag out and put all the toys that I deemed "violent" in any way in it. I couldn't stop crying. I felt like that was not my little boy talking and I can't believe he would say something like that. Am I totally overreacting? I'm a single mom so I don't really have anybody to bounce my parenting choices off of. I really just want to make sure he grows up to be a kind man. Please, any advice is greatly appreciated!

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Amy - posted on 04/19/2012

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Honestly I think you're over reacting. You don't say if you've had a conversation with him about why it's unacceptable and why you find it disgusting. I understand your concern about violence and guns but I think the better way to handle it is to explain why guns are dangerous and why you don't want him playing like that. My husband is a police officer and we've taken the time to explain to our 6 year old about how dangerous it can be.

I also don't think it's fair that you took away toys that I can only assume you once deemed non violent. If your son starts playing with a toy in a violent manner get down to his level and explain that's not how you play with it and if you continue you'll take the toy away. You could also try and reward him for when he is playing in a nice manner. By rewarding the positive you may find it reinforces the good behavior.

I know you said he's into karate have you thought about enrolling him in a class? They actually teach self control and self discipline, students can get into a lot of trouble if they resort to fighting as a way of solving problems.

Denikka - posted on 04/20/2012

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I totally agree with Amy.

My grandparents grew up in a time where play fighting was completely normal. Cowboys and Indians (where they would *kill* each other) was a beloved and much played game. And they both grew up to be completely non violent and the sweetest people you'll meet. I really don't think that playing with guns, swords or even play wrestling, etc, is going to change your sweet little boy into a violent, aggressive child. Not by itself anyway.

Play fighting is fine as long as there's an understanding and a line not to cross. Play wrestling is fine. Hurting someone else is not. Having a toy gun and pretending to shoot things is okay, pretending to shoot people is not. That sort of thing.

I would definitely have a chat with him about what he's saying. Talking about killing someone is not nice. Explain to him why it's not nice.



It sounds like play fighting is something he enjoys. And with you being so strict about it and his school being so strict about it, he's lacking an outlet. I agree with Amy's suggestion of enrolling him in something like karate (tai kwan do is another good choice). It'll give him somewhere to get it out of his system in a positive and productive manner :)

Good luck :)

Jennifer - posted on 04/23/2012

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I'd say you are completely overreacting. I have two son's, one just turned 3 last week and my oldest will be 8 next month. I let them have nerf guns and water guns with the rule that you do not point any gun what so ever at anyone's face. It has been proven that a child is allowed to play "rough" grows to be a well rounded individual. If you shelter your child from the "violence" of the world then they will grow up to be sheltered individuals and freak the second they see something that could be considered violence. Don't forget that guns have saved people's lives. Gun's don't kill people, people kill people. Not only are guns used for protection they are also used for food. I know there are people out there that use guns for violence, but that outweighs the people that use gun for good things. If your son is acting like he is play fighting that show's that he has a huge imagination. which is awesome. As long as you teach him what is right from wrong he will grow up to be a protector.



There was a few articles written not that long ago about rough housing between your children. They both said the same thing; you have to let your children do mild rough housing and you should include yourself in it. For example, wrestling (not the wrestling that you see on wwf and stuff like that) but just play wrestling, play fighting (also called role playing), tickling, etc. It teaches the kids that it's ok to play and that as long as you don't take it to far you will most likely become a nice kid. You obviously teach them who they can and cannot rough house with or role play with. I'm sorry to say, but there is violence everywhere you go. The only way that you can keep your child from seeing this violence is by locking them in a windowless room with no kind of electronics or human contact, though by doing that you are being violent in a way and you will be raising a child that will mental problems later on in life (this part is not to you Tracy, it is to the people who say to basically shelter your child).



Now let me make some stuff clear and my parenting before anyone even try's to say that because I let my children rough house they are going to be violent children. My two kids are two of the sweetest children around. My 7 year old reads at least 2-3 grades higher than the grade he is in, he does math at a higher grade level, he writes at a higher grade level, he has respect, his imagination is truly amazing, he writes songs, stories, and when he grows up one of the things he wants to do is write and illustrate his own children's books. He only rough houses with family, role plays with friends and family, and knows what he can and cannot do while doing any of these things. He's never been kicked out of school, has a heart of gold, is exceeding in Cub Scouts, school, soccer, and everything else that he does. He also loves helping anyone and everyone. Though he is a normal child and has moments where he is a brat, he is over all a great child.



My 3 year old is very advanced in a lot of stuff, he loves helping people, only rough house with family, he is far from a violent child, knows right from wrong on most things, just adores our family and friends, he loves sports, dancing, reading, singing, playing, running, and cuddling. He also has a heart of gold. My children have bright futures ahead of them. I do monitor what they watch on t.v., though I don't have to do that anymore with my 7 year old, because he knows now what he can and cannot watch.



So, Tina, please do not let anyone make you think that it is not ok for your child to act like a child. I know it's hard being a single mom, I have been a single mom from day 1. I agree that it is not ok for your son to say "I'm going to beat you to death", did you try and talk to him and explain to him why it was not ok to say that. If he says that again you could maybe tell him what you would allow him to say. Good luck, Tina, and I hope our advice helps you! Your kid sounds like a very sweet and very bright child.



Sorry about going on about my kids, I just want to prove that letting you kids rough house and role play in a normal way is not a bad thing.

Dove - posted on 04/20/2012

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Major overreaction. My son LOVES sword fighting play. He likes guns too, but I won't ever buy a gun (I hate guns) and he only has water guns that he's received as gifts. He loves to fight the invisible bad guys. It's a bit of an obsession right now, BUT we talk about not hurting people and how real guns/swords are not toys and could really hurt/kill someone. I do not let him play like he is killing anyone. Instead he will 'shoot' you with the gun that makes you take a nap (tranquilizer gun).



Boys are interesting creatures, that's for sure. My son does have an aggressive streak at home (had it long before the play fighting, he was born with it as are many boys), but he is SO kind and loving and really a bit of a pushover even with kids half his size/age. His play fighting has not changed that one bit.



My friend has 3 boys and they all play wrestle ALL the time. Even the one year old. ;)

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Fiona - posted on 04/25/2012

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In a word YES! I have three boys with 10 years between the oldest and youngest and 6 between the oldest and middle. When my oldest was small I took all the 'violent' toys out of the house and didn't allow him to watch any TV that had 'violence' etc etc etc. However, when he got to school within 6 months he was using his fingers and sticks as guns etc and playing his version 'cowboys and indians'. My next child I still banned the TV but did allow him to have toy guns if they were given as presents by other people. When they broke they went in the bin. Again starting school had a huge impact and again he was playing his version of 'cowboys and indians'. With my youngest I realised I was fighting a loosing battle so decided to go with the flow. The rules now are they can only use them outside , they can never point the gun/weapon (lightsabers etc) at an unarmed person and definately not at mummy and again when they break they go in the bin. I found my thinking had to change. I grew up in an all girls household and we just didn't play these types of games.

I had to change my thinking fom guns and violence to more of a superhero. They were the good guys fighting all the evil in the world AND WINNING! I do monitor it to ensure it stays in this sphere of play but generally the boys were really focused on defeating the enemy (which just happened to be the most evil 'dude' that was popular at the time).

Keep your chin up and know that you are a great Mum who obviously only wants the best for her son. If I could suggest one thing, find an adult male that you trust and could be a good role model for your son and really talk to him about what he did as a boy.

Pamela - posted on 04/21/2012

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What kind of TV is he exposed to? It's not just the super hero stuff. LOTS of cartoons have violence in them....even the ones that are pretending it is funny.

We live in a very VIOLENT society, which is BASED IN WAR!!! Our ECONOMY is BASED IN WAR! The President just signed the budget and 57% of the US budget is set aside for DEFENSE!!! So, since your child is surrounded by violence you need to check to see where the biggest exposure is coming from and extract that from his/your/ the family's life.

Throwing away the toys without an explanation was REACTIONARY and could cause an emotional problem down the road. Sitting down and explaining what violence is and why you don't want him to practice it is a much better solution.

I never bought super hero stuff for my sons. They got care bears, etc. They were also taught respect both at home and the Montessori school they attended. BTW Christians are not necessarily non-violent......look at our country which claims to be a Christian country!!!

Tracy - posted on 04/20/2012

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Thanks everybody! I really appreciate your responses. It's nice to get a realistic view of things. I am looking into Karate and I like all of your suggestions. You're great women;)

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I don't have boys so I'm sure this is very, very hard, but no harder than keeping sexy stuff from my 3 girls. We do not watch violence in our home, though. I am what my kids call an "entertainment Nazi", lol. There is SO much crap to the world of adulthood. And all of it's crap will make it's way into your life at the exact right time. I see absolutely no reason to poison my kids with extra. The bottom line is that kids will mimic what they see and hear. Period. If what they see and hear is sexy girls making out with boys, that's what they'll think is cool. If they see heroes and ninjas fighting out every problem, bam, that's what they'll do. Swearing, hitting, bad jokes, racist remarks, religious remarks, revealing clothes, sex scenes, disrespect towards women, it goes on and on. Maybe just try to limit the junk he is watching and surround it with cuddle time and Elmo if you have to, lol!

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