Do You Let Your Kids Play With Water Guns (or, What Toys Don’t You Let Your Kids Play With?)?

Do You Let Your Kids Play With Water Guns and Other Toy Weapons: A Discussion with Working Moms

It’s the season for outdoor water fun — swimming, running through sprinklers, etc. — so we thought it would be a good time to ask: Do you let your kids play with water guns and other toy weapons, such as Nerf guns? For his birthday last year, my son got one of those giant, Super Soaker-type of water guns (from a classmate), and this year for his birthday he received a Nerf gun (also from a friend — not us). He’s been asking for a Nerf gun for a long time and was so excited to get one. The kids’ parents didn’t know that we hadn’t given him any toy guns (I’m not a big fan), and in the end, we’ve let him play with the gifts (although we do have rules, such as “Don’t ever aim them at people or animals”).working moms discuss whether they let their kids play with water guns or other gun toys

If you want to keep your kids away from toy guns, a total ban seems impossible. If you prohibit them from playing with water guns and other weapon-like toys, won’t they just go and use them at a friend’s house and/or get invited to a “Nerf Wars” type of party for a friend’s birthday? (My son, who’s in primary school, has gone to two so far.) Or does it make a difference if you personally show your disapproval? Some parents just give up and go along with with the (stereotypical) reasoning that “Boys will turn anything into a gun anyway.” If we give our kids water guns and so on, should that enter at all into our conversations with them about, for example, why their school has lockdown drills? Do kids really look at violence or guns any differently when they play with toy guns.

I’ll admit that I haven’t been motivated enough to do any Googling about the effects of playing with toy guns, and whether my uneasiness is warranted — and when I finally did, er, today, I learned that research hasn’t found a link between violent play as a child and violent behavior as an adult. Many studies have drawn conclusions like that of this one, as summarized by Slate: “[W]hen kids incorporate violence into their pretend play, they may learn how to control real violent impulses and regulate their emotions.”

So, do tell: Do you let your kids play with water guns and other toy weapons? If not, why — and if so, what are your ground rules (and the conversations you’ve had with your kids about them)? Have you bought things like water guns or Nerf guns for your kids’ friends? If you prohibit toy guns at home and your child receives one as a gift (or gets one in a party favor bag) what do you do, and how do you explain it to your child? 

Further Reading:

  • It’s Fine for Kids to Play With Pretend Guns [Slate]
  • Why Boys Love Guns, and What to Do About It [CNN]
  • Boys and Guns: What’s a Parent to Do? [PBS Parents]
  • Weapons Ban: Just How Bad Are Toy Guns for Kids? [ParentMap]
  • Keeping Kids From Toy Guns: How One Mother Changed Her Mind [The Atlantic]

Pictured: Deposit Photos / leon_traut.

What Crazy Things Have You Done to Get Your Kids to Sleep?

All right ladies, let’s discuss: what crazy things have you done to get your kids to sleep? Both of my kids have gone through extensive periods where they were not good sleepers, so I feel like I’ve read every possible article and tried every possible “get your kids to sleep” hack out there. So let’s discuss: What crazy things have YOU done to get your kids to sleep? 

Here’s what worked to help get my kids to sleep . . . and what didn’t:

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How to Handle a Defiant Three Year Old

Readers, what are your best tips for how to handle a defiant three-year-old, aka the threenager (or a kiddo in the terrible twos)? How do you deal with discipline as a working parent in general — and how do you get your nanny or babysitter on the same page?

Everyone says the that the twos are terrible, but for us it was the threes that have been truly, truly horrible with both kids. When my eldest, J, was a threenager, we were giving him time-outs on a regular basis. (That’s him pictured — after a particularly rough night we woke up to find that he had stripped the bookshelves in his room and thrown all of his books in a pile behind the couch in his room. Sadly, I have no good picture of the time he painted the same couch with poop.) We were constantly frustrated and screaming, and it felt like we were never, ever, ever going to be able to live in peace with our child again. Then, one day we sort of looked at each other and said, “Huh… we haven’t given J a time-out in a thousand years. That’s so weird.” It had just sort of ended. Now he’s a perfectly insane six-year-old who gets up to his own mischief, but thankfully we’re mostly past the screaming/time-out stage of things. But: now my youngest, H, is three and a half, and if the slightest thing goes wrong, he is screeching and screaming. He excels at making messes, and his favorite thing right now is taking a pillow and throwing it to knock things off of high shelves. Charming!

(It’s also interesting to note that in the classic, must-read POOPCUP article, this is a growth stage for parents also — the article was joking about how parenting is pretty easy for “parents of one perfect child under preschool” age, but stuff starts to hit the fan once you get into the preschool weeds. Here’s our whole roundup on great articles on pregnancy and motherhood…)

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How to Stop Cursing Around Kids

how to stop cursing around kidsEvery parent has that moment when your kiddo starts speaking, and you think to yourself: SHIT! now we’ve got to stop swearing so much! We were just talking about swearing at work over at Corporette, and I thought an interesting corollary over here might be to share stories and tricks on how to stop cursing around kids.

As I’ve explained at Corporette, personally I like to joke that I was a sailor in a previous life because, around good friends at least, I tend to swear quite a bit. But when my eldest, J, was starting to speak, I found I definitely not want him to start saying bad words — I didn’t want to be That Mom with the kid who swears like a sailor since I feel like it reflects more on the parents than it does the kids. I’ve surprised myself in how little I want my kid to swear — I don’t even like for him to hear the phrase “that sucks” or “crap,” just in part because I think it’s just as easy to say “that stinks” or “well, carp,” both of which are much more acceptable.

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Make My Life Easier Thursday: Bumkins Snack Bag

Bumkins snack bag review I’d dabbled in reusable bags before when J was in daycare, but we never quite found one that we liked. But when I started packing his lunch for first grade this year, I started feeling wasteful every time I grabbed a snack Ziploc bag for a few raisins or dried mangos. So I thought I’d give these cute reusable bags a try. (He doesn’t really know who Mario is yet, but I figured Nintendo would age with him and be good for his brother as well.) Verdict: we like them. We’re not washing them every single time we use them (although sometimes I’ll just do a quick rinse in the sink and then put them on the drying rack inside out — and they’re definitely not for anything gooey or that you want to keep super fresh — but for crackers, raisins, and other small, dry snacks, we like them. They zip easily and make me feel good that on some days, at least, we’re being kind to the planet. A set of two bags is $7.95 at Amazon.  Bumkins Nintendo Reusable Snack Bag Small 2 Pack, Super Mario 8-Bit

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How to Make Shots Easier on Your Kids

how to make shots easier on your kidsIt’s flu-shot time (hooray, said no one), and since that means it’s getting closer to peak flu season, which usually hits between December and February, today we’re discussing how to make shots easier on your kids. The CDC recommends that everyone older than six months get the seasonal flu vaccine and that certain children get two doses at least a month apart. The vaccine is especially important for kids because they have a higher risk than adults for serious flu-related complications that could land them in the hospital.

If your family gets the flu vaccine, get ready with these tips to make shots easier on your kids:

 

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