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Hi!

I'd like to hear all your thoughts on this. I am familiar with the research about gun play and tend to allow the children to engage in gun play as long as they are not scaring anyone.

However, last week I had an incident where a girl said to another "I'm going to get my mummy to shoot you in the head." Of course we dealt with it at the time and informed the parents. I had an email from her mum who explained that she doesn't play with guns at home etc.

I have a boy in my class who loves Star wars and army play and nearly always has something in his hand for a gun. I try to develop his ideas through this interest without encouraging violence! But I do find it very hard to know what to do?

 

Any thoughts?

Green Hippo x

Edited by green hippo

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Green Hippo, it's soooo hard isn't it We were boy heavy last year, Star Wars play drove us all bonkers and we had like you one boy who appeared obsessed by the whole gun play thing and would encourage his friends to play his games rather than join in their games and inevitably it was Star Wars or similar which dominated.

 

I did contemplate a gun licence - i.e a piece of card that they could wear and with agreed behaviour and if they broke that behaviour the licence was taken away along with the gun for a given amount of time. They would all need to co operate and only those with licences could play, that way they were only playing with the like minded rather than upsetting anybody who did not like this type of play. We didn't in the end carry out this.

 

We allowed Star War play for a couple of months and then I sat them all down and said "enough now", and I asked them not to bring in their light sabres etc. any longer, they were allowed to look at the books we had but that was all.

 

The boy who was sooo obsessed we worked hard with finding other things and having an adult "on him" so that he couldn't start it all up again, his mum was on side as were the others about the light sabres.

 

I think one of the interesting things must be if your setting is on or near an Army base, may be someone if they are, could come on and give us their views.

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The Superheroes book that I reviewed recently: 50 Exciting Ideas for using Superheroes and Popular Culture had some excellent ideas for channelling children's passion for this sort of play. Perhaps this might be a good place to start. The author Anni McTavish is on Twitter and she might help if you ask her a specific question (she might not, but many of the consultants and advisors do!). Her twitter handle is @MctavishAnni

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I have run a setting on an Army base, with regular gun patrols around the area we were in. Many dads and some mums were away in the gulf and other areas at the time.. The children never became fixed on guns or gunplay of any kind..

 

We thought it was because it was normal to see someone carrying a gun while walking around and chatting to the parents and children, so were not seen as violent to the children, unless they had seen the images in tv.

Even then in the 4 years I ran the group I can say we never had any gunplay, We were were all ready to support it and discuss it. but it never arose..

 

It is probably even seen less now, We had Ireland bomb threats to cope with at that time , hence the patrols.. the children all knew never to approach a car until it had been checked underneath with a mirror.. (I still sometimes find myself looking under the car before getting in !)

So cannot really help with what to do.. it is hard when they become focussed on one thing, and while supporting interests sounds good, becomes hard when you cannot divert from it. I can remember one period where we had to resort to a timed amount of play as a reward for doing something else.. or leaving it at the door and only allowing it when outdoors.. as we could not freeflow it worked for us..

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Hi!

Thanks for all your replies. In answer to your question below, Wildflowers, I suppose I don't 'know' for sure but I look at children's body language, facial expression and of course, if they communicate their feelings to me. (I work with 3-4 year olds whe are on the whole able to tell me if they don't like something.

How do you know that they aren't scaring anyone?

 

It is a dilemma.

 

Thank again

Green Hippo x

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Because we want to ensure (as much as we can) that all children can feel safe and happy with us (it is difficult to know how they feel), the children don't play with guns or roar at each other with us. We consider a friendly and caring atmosphere being more important than free expression with regards to pretend violence. We don't allow other kinds of aggression towards others, such as speaking unkindly or pushing. They can explore those themes at home.

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mmm no roaring - no playing with guns , no self expression , these are not only part of natural play bt also channels in which some children communicate how they are feeling .

it is pretending , it is role play but it is understanding by those working alongside the child in how to interpret and encourage this expression not dismiss , in my opinion

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Posted (edited)

We support free expression, but not at the expense of other's well-being. There are other ways to express how one feels than in ways that makes children feel insecure and unsafe in the group, and we don't allow children to push or hit others when angry. Younger children have been frightened when other children make a scary face, hold up 'claws' and roar as if they are about to bite you.

This is our policy:

We are aware that:

• children may explore feeling powerful through play involving pretend aggression

• a child who struggles with making sense of media or their own experiences of violence may act aggressively in play

As such play may frighten some children, we cannot permit it and remind those involved that no one is allowed to make anyone else feel unsafe or unhappy. A child using an object as a gun is reminded that we play without guns. In some situations, we see how the game can be transformed so that children's right to feel safe is protected.

The need for some children to feel powerful is provided for outdoors, where they have space and freedom to be physically expressive and challenged. We also enable them to feel empowered and valued by giving them jobs and letting them lead the group, and by asking for and considering their views.

Edited by Wildflowers

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