The truth is much of “boy” play can be pretty violent, but there are ways to curb this.
What Can Parents Do?
- Try Not to Endorse It.The most important thing to do is to limit your implicit endorsement of violence. Doing so sends a message that violence—killing, shooting, destroying—is something you don’t support. By endorsement I mean his exposure to violent images (videos, movies, even cartoons or the evening news), violent stories, and violent video games. The amount of amount of violence and aggression in the media is shocking. Click here to read AAP guidelines on media use and kids.
- Keep a Watch…When Feasible. For instance, if you are in charge of the play date, you can say that he and his friends need to pick a different game because you don’t allow guns or fighting bad guys at your house.
- Talk WITH him versus TO him.Rather than wagging the finger and saying “no”, start a conversation. If he’s playing with a gun or shooting bad guys, ask him what he’s doing and make sure he understand what’s pretend and what’s real.
Just remember, as a parent, there is only so much we can control, but we have the ability to significantly limit the amount of violent playtime in our children’s lives.
Ari Brown, MD