boys playing pretend guns

Sandra & Evan

Registered User
My 3-1/2 year old son has recently started using his thumb and pointer in the shape of a gun and saying bang bang. We don't watch much TV at home, so I'm guessing he got it from school. I asked him if he knows what bang bang is and what it means. I'm guessing he doesn't know, that he's just simply imitating what the other boys do.

While I do feel like it's a normal part of boyhood, I just wonder how other parents deal with it? I've explained to him that it's not polite to point at people that way. And without using the words "gun" or "shoot", I've told him that this is what police use when they need to catch the bad guys. If we ask him to stop, he just laughs and runs away.

So should I just ignore the behaviour or ask him to stop whenever I see it? Would appreciate any ideas from others who have had the same experience. Thanks!
My 3 year old is just starting to do this too, I also think he must have picked it up at his dayhome. Or esle it is inborn in boys to do this. SO far I have just not made a big deal about it and told him he can't shoot people or animals. He has only done it a few times so far.
It's hard to explain to a three year why you wouldn't want him to play pretend guns (i.e. because guns kill people!) but sounds like you have done a pretty good job of letting him know it's not acceptable, without making a big deal out of it.

I would try ignoring it for awhile- the more attention it gets him, the more likely he is to do it!

My son is only 8 mnths old but am dreading the day he comes home playing pretend guns; it's something I hope to avoid! We already have a toy gun free house and plan to keep it that way!
Hi Becky (and others),

I offer my experience, not to say that you are wrong, but to say that if you do not manage it, your kids will not grow up as homicidal maniacs. :)

My son is only 8 mnths old but am dreading the day he comes home playing pretend guns; it's something I hope to avoid! We already have a toy gun free house and plan to keep it that way!

That was my plan too. Then my eldest started playing w/ a neighbor's toy gun in the playground & brought it home (3 years old). I returned it, but it was the opening wedge.

Then they got older and and kept borrowing other kids squirt guns in the swimming pool and I just finally gave in. I had fun w/ squirt guns and cap guns as a kid - so why was I being so uptight?

I draw the line at guns that look real & that make horrible noise (remove batteries).

My kids also make guns out of sticks & duplo & lego.

They also enjoy sword play. My younger one took a Chinese Opera kingfu class and learned to twirl his spear like the Monkey King & do some good moves w/ his wooden sword.

I hope they have the opportunity to learn archery & play darts.

We don't have any video games & the computer games I allow them are mostly non-violent (Minnesota Cuke, Hot wheels, Sims, etc.) - but they have played some shoot 'em up video games at their cousins' houses.

I do try and emphasize to my kids the difference between real fighting where people are injured horribly or die, and play fighting.
Last edited:
along the same lines...

last year i was with my 3.5 year old nephew at a family day in the park in canada.

my nephew asked the balloon twisting man for a red sword. the man very nicely explained that he didn't like making swords because kids usually ended up hitting each other with them. so he offered a giraffe, etc instead.

my nephew thought and said, "may i just have a straight red one then, please? you don't need to twist it."

the man thought he'd gotten off the hook. but when he gave the plain red balloon to my nephew, my nephew, very happy with himself turned around and said,


I, too, don't like guns and have not yet allowed my son to have any. i do realise that eventually he'll learn all about them, i just want to postpone it as long as i can.
We don't have any guns either, except for a couple of water pistols he's received at birthdays. Some of the older boys bring machine guns and rifles to the playground. I hate it! He has played with them a few times. I've tried to explain to him that guns hurt people and I don't like them. We did go through a period that he used to follow his father around the house and shoot him. Thank goodness, Disney launched the movie Cars. He went from guns to Cars overnight. Right now he's walking around the house with Shrek ears from McDonalds.
Last edited: