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Help! 3 year old boy playing guns & having toys die?

My partner's 3 year old son spends 3 1/2 days a week at our house with my 9 & 10 year old sons. Recently he has been going to his mother's house and she says that he "kills his toys" and has his toys hitting/shooting each other. She said it isn't normal behavior for a 3 year old. He isn't acting out, being violent to other kids, or saying he wants anyone to die/be killed. She told him instead of killing his toys, to send them to jail. I don't think this is a big deal, but she is making it a huge deal. I thought that the best course of action is to tell his toys to have time out (NOT JAIL), and not to make a big deal out of it to him while saying that somethings are not okay to say. What are your thoughts? Normal or not? How to deal with the mother?

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 11:01 AM on Apr. 1, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Answers (10)
  • I would wonder where this 3 year old is getting these ideas of guns and death. What has he been watching on tv or listening to? I do think it is strange that he already is playing like that. I would have a problem with it if my 3 yr old was playing with his toys like that. I would feel like his innocense is already being taken away. I would definitely question what he is being exposed to. 3 yr olds playing violently with toys isn't a good start in my opinion.

    Answer by Ash9724 at 11:06 AM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • kids fight and play with toys like that all the time. being violent with other children and and saying he wants people to die no is not normal. i would kind of worry about that.

    Answer by jodi205 at 11:06 AM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • He isn't playing that way with other children at all!! His mom says that he does it with his toys at her house. He goes to grandma's house for daycare, and spends a lot of time here. He doesn't play that way at our house or at grandma's.

    Answer by NotYourAvgMomma at 11:12 AM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • I'm thinking it's totally normal, especially since he's around the older boys and is likely just repeating the playing style he sees them doing. His mom can just set up rules in her house about gun play (jail, kill, time out, whatever she wants him to say/do) and when he's at your house, he can have different rules. He doesn't understand the whole "kill/die/death" meaning, so for him, these are just words and vague concepts that he hears and repeats.

    Answer by JPsMommy605 at 1:13 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • Last time I checked, when playing "cops and robbers" type of things...there was no time outs involved. If she wants him to send them to jail instead, then so be it.

    I'm sorry, but SHE is the mother. If she is that concerned then it is up to her to figure out from where she is getting those kinds of ideas....well, either her or your partner should be taking care of it.

    For the record, my 3 year old pretends he's Batman and he "destroys" all the bad guys.


    Answer by TiccledBlue at 1:14 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • I know I do not let my kids play with guns and I do not let him play "kill" anything or one. I think that it iher choise, and you should respect it.

    Answer by IMAMOM2-2KIDS at 1:19 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • It's totally normal for little boys to play that way, she's over reacting. My 3 year old is forever shooting me with the DVD remote.

    Answer by RhondaVeggie at 2:46 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • I agree that it is her choice (and I think it's reasonable) for her to be upset that he is playing this way. I also agree that it is like taking a little bit of his innocence away, he is three. He has heard it somewhere and I think that you need to be as involved as you can in stopping this. If he thinks that he has these rules at Mom's house and then these rules at Dad's house, you are going to have one messed up, confused kid! If you can work with her (and it sounds like you can) then do! She is concerned, there is so much violence in the world, and no he doesn't understand but it's your job in this blended family situation to help because you guys are in this for the long haul. There will be much bigger things to worry about than this in the future. You will have to work with her for many years. I would just help her by having a consistent life for your stepson.

    Answer by MamaRoberts at 3:17 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • Ugh....I tend to think for a boy at that age, it's normal. Unless he's being really wicked violent about it by himself. Could be he's acting out anger or anxiety but boys just take to guns and shooting, I'm afraid. I tried to avoid this w/ my boys but w/ school, I can't get away from it.

    Answer by jeanclaudia at 3:33 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • Well, I see two things here, number one any concern from a biological or step parent needs to be given serious consideration and needs to be view with objectivity and impartiality.

    I think that pretend play is a normal and healthy part of child development. It will be interesting to figure out where was the vocabulary of death and killing was acquired. Was it the unsupervised usage of TV? Was it introduced to the child by an older sibling? Where did he learned those concepts from? and in what context?

    I think that mother's have a six sense when it comes to our children and the "killing of toys" could very well be the manifestation of an underline situation the child is experiencing. I suggest to take the child with a behavioral pediatrician and investigate further.

    Answer by bebita at 3:42 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

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