Children and Weapon Play: Should Parents Be Concerned?
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Children and Weapon Play: Should Parents Be Concerned?

Hi there, Sarah Baldwin here. it’s another
Sunday with Sarah. Do you ever worry about your child and gunplay? Is your
child showing an interest in guns or playing shooting games and are you
worried that that means they might grow up to become violent? Well, if so, you’re
not alone. I’m here to talk to you today about children and weapon play. I’m the
mother of two boys and even though we did not have toy guns in our
house, I didn’t condone gunplay and yet my boys, as soon as they got to preschool,
were shooting each other and shooting their friends and I was very
concerned. And I get this question a lot. Over my many years as a Waldorf early
childhood teacher, I started out by not allowing gunplay at all in my classroom,
but as I learned from some of my mentors and the more I observed children that
children—boys in particular, not always but in particular—there seems to be
nothing we can do to stop it. It’s a fascination. There are a lot of
theories on why that is. There’s a surge of testosterone in young boys
between the ages of three and four and that can inspire a lot of this kind of play, but
there’s also—a child often feel so powerless in his or her world. They’re
powerless over their parents and their teachers and circumstances and gunplay
sometimes gives a child a sense of power. So, in my classroom I found that even if
I didn’t allow guns a wooden spoon would become a gun, a wooden block. When we’re
outside a stick becomes a gun and even if you were to take away all those
things a finger easily becomes a gun which you can’t put away. So I made rules
and I only allowed gun play outside, when we’re playing outside, and the rule
was you could not point a gun another person because as I explained guns
hurt other people. But you could point it at a tree or an imaginary monster or up
in the sky and that seemed to fulfill the child’s
need in a way where other people, other children, didn’t feel threatened. Parents often ask “Well, why swordplay then? Why’d you give them toy swords in a
Waldorf classroom?” Often teachers do, some Waldorf teachers even make wooden
swords, they might spend a long time sanding a wooden sword. It’s not an
easy question to answer but there are a lot of different—a lot of qualities in a
sword that are different from a gun. Children in a Waldorf school in the
autumn often hear a story about the Archangel Saint Michael—you might see it
spelled Michael, in Waldorf education we call it Saint Michael—and
celebrate his festival of Michaelmas. It’s the story of Saint Michael who
slays or tames a dragon, different versions of the story, carrying a sword
made of stars and he’s using it for the good. So when I did have wooden
swords in my classroom, I kept them in a closet, we didn’t take them out unless a
child asked for one and before they could play with a sword we went
through a little knighting ceremony. I asked the child to put on a silk cape
and to sit on a special bench and then I would knight the child by saying “Harper
Alexander, have you been good?” And the child would answer “Oh, yes.” “Have you been
true?” “Oh, yes.” “Have you heard the stars singing in the sky?” “Oh, yes.” “Here is your sword,” and here I would tap the child on each shoulder. “Use it for
right, to carry the light, not for some silly
quarrel or fight.” And at this point I would hand the sword to the child and
this would inspire a different kind of play. After this knighting ceremony if another child in the class wanted to be
a knight too and went through the knighting ceremony and there are two toy
swords, I did allow play fighting with the swords but the rules were you could
only combat with a sword, sword to sword, and you could not touch another person
with your sword. We never wanted any child to feel endangered. Another
difference between swordplay and gunplay, I think, are the stories that they evoke.
You know, when you give a child a sword it evokes images of knights and
dragons which is very different from the kinds of stories and violence that
gunplay might evoke. I think that’s very important. So if you’re looking for
swords to satisfy that child’s urge for weapon play in a healthier way,
here are some you might be interested in. For very young children, say a three or
four year-old, this is a silk sword from Sarah’s Silks and it’s just foam inside
and it’s very lightweight so even a young child will have no trouble holding
it. They can play with it inside, they can play with siblings, no one and nothing is
going to get hurt and it’s covered with 100% pure silk and very
bright, vibrant colors. This is another one I like for a slightly older child, four
or five. It’s got a wooden handle so it’s a little heavier to hold, a little more
satisfying for an older child to hold. It’s covered with wool blend felt but
there’s foam inside so again it can be played with indoors and isn’t
going to hurt anyone. For an older child, maybe over the age of six or so, who’s
a little more responsible and without any baby siblings around, we have
these beautiful wooden swords from Germany. This one comes in a real, leather
sheath and this will be enjoyed by children eight to twelve and it can be
a great part of a knight’s Halloween costume or for dress-up play. I’ll
put links below where you can find these swords if you’re interested. So if you
have any questions, let me hear from you. You can email me at [email protected] I’m sure this video will generate a lot of comments
and questions. I always love hearing from you and don’t forget to subscribe to
this youtube channel so you don’t miss a single episode. Thanks so much for your
interest, thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you next time!

About Bill McCormick

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11 thoughts on “Children and Weapon Play: Should Parents Be Concerned?

  1. I love the knighting ceremony and “vows” for sword play. It sets them up for the right type of play instead of just trying to keep them from playing at all. Thanks for sharing, Sarah. I’m so glad you’re back with this series. ❤️

  2. I like the "no pointing at another person" rule. I encourage swords and archery over guns. We basically have zero exposure to guns in our home and so far it has worked pretty well. My daughter have never taken up mock weapon play and my son who is 2 1/2 constantly charges around the house fighting dragons with his sworn, but has never imitated using a gun. This is good enough for me 😉

  3. In that area we use less fantasy play and more life skills teaching. We think and teach them more to be TOOLS to be respected and used only for good (protecting, defending, hunting). And my kids aren't allowed to use them in anger. They even practice trigger discipline on their toy guns hahaha

  4. Interesting….I have always taught gun safety to children before they can pretend play with guns. Teaching them the proper carry and use is no different than you teaching them sword play and making it a "magical" ceremony. I wish that people in this country would educate themselves on guns, their safety, and their proper usage, before conveying the idea that guns are so awful and dangerous. Just because some adults have strong feelings against them and hate them doesnt mean that we shouldn't educate children. They may grow up to be that adult whose livelihood depends on guns for food and safety. A sword…not so much.

  5. My son wasn’t ever much fascinated with guns and much preferred sword play, so that made it a bit easier. In the U.K. guns are very much not part of everyday life, we are simply not going to come into contact with them (thank goodness) so perhaps that helped them seem like a very alien concept. I very much like your sensible and pragmatic ideas, as ever, Sarah 🙂

  6. Love this video! It is something I struggle with as a mom of two boys. My eldest plays with swords and bows and arrows, but has no interest in guns. My youngest loves guns and makes guns out of everything. It drives me crazy. I told him not to point it at people, but the outside rule is a good one too. Thank you for that.

    We don't have a knighting ceremony at our house, but the kids have to ask for their swords and bows. It is in a basket on top of a dresser. Before I hand them the basket we talk about the rules: don't hurt each other, we don't 'kill' each other… When they play together they are ok. The problem is when others join in. It always ends up in a big fight with a lot of 'killing' and bruised fingers. I don't like that, but I find it hard to intervene. Especially when they play with their grandparents. I tried hiding the basket, but my mother in law keeps looking for the basket until she finds it. Talking with them about it seems to encourage them. How do you handle weapon play with outsiders (kids and grandparents ;D)?

  7. Thank you Sarah! Excellent insights and tips for safe play! Imaginary weaponry play reflects the natural protect/warrior instinct that the human anthropos, according to the very ancient Gnostics, are inherently endowed with. The warrior/defender archetype is also a metaphor for one who courageously defends/protects the truth. This has never been correlated with psychopathic violence. Big Pharma drugs, on the other hand, have – as have abusive upbringings. The very ugly underreported reality is that children have been/are often recruited in highly abusive mind control programs to become terrorists/to be used as part of warfare, military operations. I, personally, am a lot less concerned about safe, supervised weaponry play than child abuse, the military exploitation of children and the "love has no age" / sexualizing of children agenda. Children need to develop will forces to become guardians of the truth, beauty, protectors, and nurturers, empaths – observers, not fixated on making themselves desirable, objects of observation in a "Brave New World Huxleyian Order" where the boundaries of children don't matter.

  8. My family is very involved in the Belegarth LARP community, so my son has been watching full contact sword fighting from birth, really. All the parents in the community have basically taught our kids that there is a time and place, and rules around swordplay. We allow full contact, but only with SOFT swords, and NEVER in the head.

    As for gunplay, my friends with older kids have done the same, in regards to "never point at people or pets", particularly because a lot of us hunt wild game, and then when kids get older, gunplay is limited to things like NERF or laser tag.

    The important thing is to redirect the idea of weapon play to sport not violence, just like with all other martial arts.

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