Deep Dive: How Do We Respond to a Child’s Pretend Weapon Play?

Pretend weapon play can be a way for kids to explore power dynamics and express wishes and needs. Learn how to respond to keep everyone safe.

38 Min

What do you do when your child pretends to have a gun? First, take a deep breath. There’s nothing wrong with your child, and this doesn’t mean they want to harm anyone. Young kids often go through a phase of pretending to have weapons as a way of exploring big ideas like good and bad, power, control, and more. In this Deep Dive episode, Dr. Becky talks with parents Nina and Tom, whose three-year-old recently pointed his finger at his parents and said “Pish! Pish!” She explains what’s going on underneath pretend gun play, and models actionable strategies and scripts for responding in the moment. The three also discuss how to navigate delicate conversations around gun safety with kids, and why it’s important to differentiate between pretend guns and real guns.

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