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YippySkippy
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24 Feb 2014, 1:27 pm

What do you do when your kid's special interest is weapons and warfare, and you would rather it be anything else? We have tried discouraging him by not allowing military toys, but it makes no difference. He builds tanks with his Erector set and guns out of Legos. He draws pictures of war, with men parachuting out of planes and bullets flying all over the place. Sometimes I think maybe I should go in the opposite direction, and give him loads of military stuff in the hopes he'll get bored with it. I nearly bought him a large reference book called "The History of Weapons", but I stopped myself. I think of Adam Lanza, and I don't want to be the mom who took her kid to the gun range to play. I'm also afraid his special interest is going to get him into (more) trouble at school - he has already been in trouble for pointing his fingers at another student's head like a gun.
I wish he liked trains. Or puppies. Or anything else!



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24 Feb 2014, 1:36 pm

I knew a kid who was obsessed with war so he always wanted to play the game and he always had toy guns I wonder if he had AS too.


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ASDMommyASDKid
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24 Feb 2014, 2:14 pm

I understand your concern, especially, in the current climate. This was once considered a harmless interest and was relatively common back in the day. I am not a war mongering type of person or anything but I would take a relatively laissez-faire attitude about it myself except for the current environment which makes everything into a drama.

In school they still teach about the battles, and strategy and the historical significance of various wars. If he channeled some of his interest into some of the more academic stuff, he might get more of a pass for the other things than if he is just drawing guns and war scenes. Teachers respect kids with academic knowledge and interests and it will maybe make them less likely to assume it some kind of blood lust or something when he does inevitable get caught drawing a war scene.

In addition to that, I don't know how your child is in his ability to control his special interest (mine has zero ability in this) but I would still advise him to try to save it for after school and on weekends. (You probably do this already, but I know I am sometimes tempted to give up, when it seems fruitless, but sometimes the repetition helps in the long run.)



momsparky
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24 Feb 2014, 2:27 pm

My son's was, too. Keep in mind that there's a certain amount of interest in war that's developmentally appropriate for boys - he may be trying to connect with his peers. How old is your son?

We are fortunate in that DH comes from a military family and works in a field where many of his co-workers are in the reserves or recently were members of the military. I try to demystify it as much as possible - it really is a lot of following directions blindly (not something DS likes to do) and sweaty physical labor (which he hates even more,) and a lot less exploding and problem-solving than DS thinks. Reminding him of this at every opportunity is helpful.

DS also picked up this interest at the same time as when he was being bullied at school, something I discovered is not uncommon among kids with AS - there's kind of a protective element to it sometimes. Not saying that's what happened here, but you might want to check in at school and make sure he's feeling safe there.

We also try to move his interests tangentially: for instance, we found that his interest in guns was really an interest in mechanics and physics and we've kind of poked him towards engineering a bit. Also, explosions: so, you can get his interest with any kind of gasoline engine, with the "big bang" etc. I could see where a different kind of kid might be more interested in the effects of gunplay, and that might be deflected into an interest in medicine. YKWIM?

As for the school, we once got a call from a real PITA teacher who noticed that DS was doodling guns and wargames during a time when he was allowed to doodle. After three or four calls from the school, I asked DS if he could label his drawings with "NERF war" and that satisfied everybody. There was hand-wringing, but NERF satisfied it even in the post-Lanza world.

We did, however, have strong discussions about what is NOT allowed at school (and we couch it in "time and place") No discussions or acting out of shooting at school. No drawings or writing about shooting a person (e.g. teacher or classmate,) either in fun or in anger. No use of violent language to express feelings.

When we were having a problem with violence, we banned all wargames and toys and explained that they had to be earned with good anger-management skills. DS was particularly infatuated with one M-rated videogame wargame - we finally let him get it (despite my discomfort) as a reward for going three years without one violent incident, and he is finally starting to get bored with it!



RedStar98
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24 Feb 2014, 3:40 pm

I was just like that since the age of 7 or so, and although I have phases its never really gone away. I was never really the type of kid who liked actual toys or computer games, I just preferred drawing stuff and making up 'pretend wars'- even at that age I knew pretty much every country in Europe and could recognize the majority of flags. It's always something I've been interested in, be it the Cold War or Second World War or something more general. Even now I have a major fascination with the Russian Revolutions of 1917. I wouldn't worry about it too much, its likely he will grow out of it or just o through phases.



chris5000
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24 Feb 2014, 4:12 pm

all of my notebooks had drawling are battles and guns I think its normal for kids to be interested in it no matter what the gun grabbers think, maybe try to redirect it into military history.
also it would be a good idea to teach him about gun safety when hes older, maybe even getting him a target rifle when hes 15 or so
going to a range and shooting targets can be a good family bonding experience, gunclubs can also be a good social outlet. start him off with a BB gun for a few years then maybe move up to a .22

if you try to destroy the special interest its just going to make the interest stronger



Adamantium
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24 Feb 2014, 4:42 pm

YippySkippy wrote:
What do you do when your kid's special interest is weapons and warfare, and you would rather it be anything else? We have tried discouraging him by not allowing military toys, but it makes no difference. He builds tanks with his Erector set and guns out of Legos. He draws pictures of war, with men parachuting out of planes and bullets flying all over the place. Sometimes I think maybe I should go in the opposite direction, and give him loads of military stuff in the hopes he'll get bored with it. I nearly bought him a large reference book called "The History of Weapons", but I stopped myself. I think of Adam Lanza, and I don't want to be the mom who took her kid to the gun range to play. I'm also afraid his special interest is going to get him into (more) trouble at school - he has already been in trouble for pointing his fingers at another student's head like a gun.
I wish he liked trains. Or puppies. Or anything else!


I am shocked that you would bring Adam Lanza into this! His mom was a gun nut and survivalist, not a military historian!

There is a profession for people with your son's special interest. There is nothing wrong with it at all.

Learning about war does not make you a violent person, in fact it can have quite the opposite effect. When you really know all about Ypres, you will have no illusions about heroic warrior glory. You should buy him the "History of Weapons" and an Anthology with Randall Jarrell's "Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" and Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est."



DW_a_mom
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24 Feb 2014, 5:30 pm

Both my kids have interests that make me uncomfortable, and that I never thought I would let my kids have, but I've learned to let go. You pay attention to WHY they like it and how they react to it, and how their overall behavior is with and without exposure to the interest. You also spend a LOT of time teaching them context and real world issues that relate to the interest. I realize it is impossible to be sure as a parent what is a "harmless" interest and what indicates deeper issues, but you have to try and ferret that out, and not just block your child from things they connect to just because you are worried about deeper issues. If you do, it will backfire.

Some common sense is involved, of course: access to actual, working weapons is out of the question. Traveling with toy guns is out of the question. Gun play, art and stories of any sort at school are out of the question. Keep it all within time and place, explaining why society has drawn these lines (he may not agree, but hopefully he can integrate it as a "rule.") For example, in our house, toy guns cannot be aimed at people, ever, or the kids go to "jail."

There are all sorts of cool warfare games on the market, and all are played by hobbyists who are, for the most part, pacifists. War Hammer and various precursors for younger kids made by Hasbro, etc are table top versions that use many analytical and math skills and are quite popular with boys, and might even eventually help your son find a social group and make friends.

I think boys are hardwired by history to be fascinated by war, btw.

And both my son and my daughter went through phases where a really good way for them to de-stress and re-center was to engage in target practice with a nerf rifle in our hallway. Something about aim and concentration ... I really NEVER saw myself allowing and certainly not encouraging something like that, lol.


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momsparky
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24 Feb 2014, 5:43 pm

Adamantium wrote:
YippySkippy wrote:
I am shocked that you would bring Adam Lanza into this! His mom was a gun nut and survivalist, not a military historian!


The problem is not parents bringing up Adam Lanza - it's the schools. They are justifiably paranoid - not justifiably because a school shooting might happen (because statistically speaking it won't) but because the media has made many parents so agitated about it that school employees fear the loss of their jobs if it is perceived they aren't being "proactive" about school violence.

That said, our issue with the school went away pretty quickly once they got to know DS; they are generally pretty reasonable, just pushed into hypervigilance these days.



naturalplastic
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24 Feb 2014, 7:16 pm

I dont see the problem.

All male kids draw pictures of paratroopers, and of bombs going off. And they all play cowboys and Indians one day, and Americans and Germans the next day, and cops and robbers the next.

If he is a little on the non-athletic and interverted side he probably lacks interest in participating in football. So that instinct to be fascinated by team action might get channeled a little more into reading books about war history than you might see in the next boy- the next boy being the one who excels at touchdowns. When I was a kid I would get library picture books about the history of weapons and knew about how muzzle loading guns evolved into breech loading guns etc before I left gradeschool. But I didnt grow up to be Adam Lanza. It doesnt work that way.

Like Redstar I went through phases of interests as a kid. Not always war related. But reading about military history would aid and abett other interests:like geography, and nonmilitary history, and even math.

And its good that your son builds with real legos, and likes to read actual books. Be grateful that he isnt one of these 21st centurey kids who is addicted to XBox world of warcraft, or whatever its called.

Maybe if dad took him to some hockey games he might drop the war stuff and pick up a hockey stick.



YippySkippy
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25 Feb 2014, 1:20 pm

Quote:
All male kids draw pictures of paratroopers, and of bombs going off. And they all play cowboys and Indians one day, and Americans and Germans the next day, and cops and robbers the next.


To clarify, he is not interested in historic battles, history in general, or strategy. He does not play cowboys and Indians, or good guys fighting bad guys. He is only interested in guns, bombs, and tanks. He wants to know all the different kinds of weapons, and how much damage each can do in relation to others.

Quote:
its good that your son builds with real legos, and likes to read actual books


He doesn't actually like to read. I was just thinking that a book about weapons would be more constructive than a toy.

Quote:
Maybe if dad took him to some hockey games he might drop the war stuff and pick up a hockey stick


That would never happen in a million years. Neither DS nor his father have any interest in sports. Also, DS has some pretty significant gross motor skills issues.



ASDMommyASDKid
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25 Feb 2014, 1:31 pm

This may be too far afield, but MythBusters has explosions (so it sort of involves bombs.) I don't know if there are episodes with tanks, but I know sometimes they have myths that involve guns, too and old weapons from ages ago. It might get him into the more science-type applications/aspects.



mikassyna
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25 Feb 2014, 2:37 pm

Adamantium wrote:
I am shocked that you would bring Adam Lanza into this! His mom was a gun nut and survivalist, not a military historian!


Hey, let's not knock gun nuts and survivalists LOL ;-)



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26 Feb 2014, 8:28 am

I would have issue with it knowing my particular son. Also, in the schools these days, a child found with a notebook filled with drawings of weapons, explosives, cannons etc may be subject to disciplinary action. Maybe discuss with him your concerns and why you are worried about his interest and see if you can come up with a balance.

I had a talk with my son about guns, it stemmed from a video game in a play place that was a shooting game. We discussed all about guns and what they are used for and what happens if you make a mistake and point a REAL gun at someone. What could happen, some guns look like toys, and you wouldn't even know it. Why guns are needed and by whom, and why it makes me uncomfortable to see him pointing it at another person. The kids were all grabbing the toy guns from the game and pointing at each other. we have a good few talks and he understands a bit better. Now when we go to those places he doesn't even bother with the play guns and now he knows WHY not just that mommy said no.

granted, it isn't his special interest, but maybe talking about it with him? Ask him what about guns and weapons attracts him? Talk to him about society and what is happening in the schools these days and what might happen to him (become a target) if he is found to have these drawings. That is why you are so concerned, not because you are unhappy with his interest but what could become of it.

good luck!


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Adamantium
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26 Feb 2014, 8:46 am

mikassyna wrote:
Adamantium wrote:
I am shocked that you would bring Adam Lanza into this! His mom was a gun nut and survivalist, not a military historian!


Hey, let's not knock gun nuts and survivalists LOL ;-)


Well, another thread perhaps. I do have a problem with people who have an essentially paranoid view of the world inflicting that view on their children. It's a complicated business, but what Lanza's mom did was not healthy, I believe--and very different than perusing an interest in military history.

These draconian restrictions on what children can write or draw are appalling. The adult officials involved with trying to make an interest in weapons and warfare a thought crime should be prosecuted for negligence.

My middle schoolers were recently introduced to the concept of chemical warfare in history. They did a special piece in the second battle of Ypres. In what system of thought can it possibly make sense to teach them about that absolute brutality and horror in class and then say they can't use notebooks or sketch pads to process any of this terrible information?

American society is not quite sane on this topic, it seems to me.



Last edited by Adamantium on 26 Feb 2014, 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

AspergianMutantt
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26 Feb 2014, 9:38 am

My son is the same way as the OP, its natural for boys to want to play army or cowboys and Indian types of things, I think were genetically inclined to it because for millions of years men have been the hunters for food and the protectors of the family and village, so were wanting to pick up faster on the things that would help us achieve those results. and part of that is having a high interest in them. its just that the schools now days seems they want boys to play with dolls or the like instead.,

What helped on my end, is I started (when able) taking my son out to do things children would love to do, I take him crystal and fossil hunting, it gave him things to show off and be proud of. boys love to explore and doing those things that feeds that jones. it does not stop the interest in warfare but it detracts from it when his mind also has other interests. my sons love to make or do things he can show off to his peers, things like I mentioned is good for that, if anything his friends becomes envious and want to do it to, next thing I knew other parents wanted me to take their children with us next time we go out or to follow us so they could go out to do the same.