Picture this: A playground full of children being ‘shot at’ by a 6 year old carrying a toy machine gun and the proud grandmother who bought him the ‘wonderful gift’ saying out loud the epic catch-all phrase: “Be careful running around with the gun in your hands! When you are not holding onto anything while climbing up and down the slide, you could fall and break your leg!”
Before even worrying about the probability of a broken leg, has this grandmother even thought of how ‘broken’ his soul already is? Has she looked at the aggression painted all over his face when he is ‘aiming to kill’ at the other kids at the playground and the triumph in his eyes when he realises that he spreads fear and chaos all around him?
Kids are running left right and center trying to escape his reach. It is not enough that he aims at them at close contact with the toy gun, he also actually hits them with it when they don’t pretend that they are dead by falling on the ground. He goes on to yell names at them and using language that would suit a late night gangster movie and certainly not a 6 year old!!…but the grandmother, regardless, is concerned only about his own safety ( in case he trips and falls amidst all the chaos he has created) and shows no interest in stopping him somehow from physically abusing, scaring and insulting all other kids around him.
I have witnessed this horror scene with my own eyes, and ever since I made a pact with myself that I would explain in any possible way to my own son that guns are not cool toys – to start with- and that any form of violence -physical, verbal or behavioural is a no-go!…and that is non-negotiable in my household.
Before you rush into thinking that my approach is too strict and how could a boy vent some of his trapped anger?(which they all have) and how could he follow his natural instinct of ‘hunting something or someone down’? (and yes, we have all seen boys pretending that their fingers are guns and they are shooting us down for fun) I invite you to consider the following:
-Do you like wars and their devastating consequences? Have you thought how many real wars actively take place at the moment on various countries around the world? Have you thought that your own child could one day be responsible for creating this pain and suffering?
-Do you like watching the pictures of dead children on the news? Have you thought that one of them could be yours?
-Do you like the stories you read on the news about kids who suffer from bullying at school and how sometimes they go through extreme suffering and depression that they even take their own lives? Have you thought that this could happen to your own child? or that your child could be the bully?
-Would you like to put an end to this nonsense of aggression once and for all? If yes, please, read on…
Before you buy any kind of toy to your boy, think! “What message will this toy register in my boy’s brain?”
If he asks you for the latest toy gun or another kind of aggressive computer game, movie etc, ask him why does he want it? What does he think he can achieve from it? If he answers that it is fun and cool because his friends have the same, please explain to him that it certainly is not cool to kill people or treat them violently in any shape or form, and that in real life that hurts and has horrible consequences. Please, do talk through the consequences in a way that the little boy can relate to them, such as…’would you like someone with a real machine gun to come to your room and shoot down your favourite teddy bear? How would you feel? Why would you want to do this to someone else? and so on…
Please, do register in your brain the answers your boy gives you. If you feel that somehow he honestly thinks that hurting someone is normal and he is not just being momentarily silly in his little “I-can-pretend-anything-is-possible-bubble”, then you need to start analysing what examples you have provided him with. What is he copying from your behaviour?
Is he mirroring your anger? Is he copying your temper tantrums? Is he watching what you are watching on the TV? Is he imitating your aggressive gestures and body language towards others? Is he mimicking your abusive behaviour towards your partner and/ or your other children? Is he feeling your trapped frustration in the air? Is he craving desperately your attention? Is he quietly realising that you are lying to yourself and others? Is he sensing that you feel unloved? Is he getting enough love and appreciation from you? Is he projecting your fears and insecurities?
A wise woman once told me that there are no bad or evil children, there are only bad parents! Please, don’t take this as a criticism, it is just a wake-up call for us all who raise kids and still have to struggle with our own issues in daily life.
We do forget sometimes that there is a hidden camera at home…and this camera is nothing else other than our own kids! They watch us, they tune into our minds and souls, magically record our behaviours and replay them when suitable to them without necessarily understanding how they do it or when they do it. So it is that simple…aggressive behaviour starts at home, is learnt at home at first, then it is tested and reinforced at school by watching the older kids and then it escalates in adulthood – just because we have been used to it all along, and no one said a big fat loud STOP!!!
Dear mothers with boys, please do say STOP every time your little or bigger boy displays signs of aggression. If you don’t react on the spot to deal with the situation at source, it is like you are giving him approval to do this again… and a few years later you won’t be able to stop him from joining a bullying group or violent gang because he somehow registered the message from you that this course of action was OK.
Please, do explain to your son from a very early age that, instead of using violence, he can vent his anger or insecurities through talking and verbalising his feelings, that you are always there for him to listen, understand and support him, and that it is normal to have good and bad days, and that we all feel sad, frustrated, scared and inadequate sometimes – but we don’t hit each other. We find ways to make ourselves feel better through exercise, through playing a fun game with friends, through meditation, painting, dancing, listening to our favourite music and singing along – or just simply by observing around us, in nature and at home, all the nice things we have been offered and feeling grateful.
Please, do teach your boy with confidence to look inside him from a place of love and calm himself down from the place of goodness that he already has hidden within…
and if he tells you…’but mummy the other day you and daddy were yelling at each other…and so on…” please, do explain that your behaviour was wrong too and that you and daddy are not perfect either. Of course, you too make mistakes but you as well try to STOP! Tell him that in all your flawed behaviour as a couple you have one main priority – your unconditional love for him! and that you both do try to help him become a better person than the two of you are. Teach him how to learn from your mistakes and do not encourage him to repeat them!
Even better, try to commit to your son that with his help you will improve your behaviour too!! There is nothing better for your own self development as parents to ask the ‘hidden camera’ to give you feedback…oh yes! the prospect may be scary in a way that shakes your authority to the core, but it works when you honestly want to help yourselves and your sons to’ break out’ of some of your inappropriate behaviours and find some calmness and harmony all round…
…to be continued…
until then, peace to you all!
Image credit: www.howany.com