Parents play a key role in developing safe practices and are ultimately responsible for the behavior and safety of their children. However, firearm safety can be a difficult topic to approach. Whether your family owns guns or not, your child might have reached the age where they are asking questions. Here are a few suggestions when talking to your kids about guns:
While there is no specific age to talk with your child about gun safety, a good time to introduce the subject is when he or she shows an interest in firearms. The interest can come from family members, friends, toy guns, video games, or television shows and movies. Talking openly and honestly about gun safety with your child is frequently more effective than just ordering him or her to “stay out of the gun closet” and leaving it at that. Such a statement may stimulate a child’s natural sense of curiosity to investigate further.
Instead, talk with them by asking opened ended questions. After having a broad discussion on safety, discuss firearm safety, the rules for firearms and what your child should do when they see a gun in an unsupervised situation. As with any safety lesson, explaining the rules and answering a child’s questions can help remove the mystery surrounding guns.
Pretend vs. Real life
Children may often time see characters harmed by another with a gun on TV, in movies, or in video games. When that child sees the same actor appear in the next episode, another movie, or TV show, they may get confused between defining the difference between what’s fictitious and what’s real.
Video games can also mislead children by prompting players to actively target other characters with no personal consequences. The player can simply hit the reset button and bring themselves and others back to life. Do not assume your child knows the difference between being harmed on TV or in a video game and the reality of gun violence.
Having toy guns in the house is determined by parents. If your child has toy guns, you may want to use take the time to explain how they differ from genuine firearms. Be sure to tell them to never assume a gun they see or find is a toy.
Isolated lessons and concepts can be quickly forgotten whereas repetition better assists children to remember standard safety procedures. Quiz your child regularly and praise them if they know the proper way to respond and correct them if they do not.
Another way your child can learn is through the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program. Eddie Eagle and the Wing Team are on a mission to help teach PreK-4th graders what to do if they ever come across a gun: Stop! Don’t touch. Run Away. Tell a grown up. The program has a fun, engaging video along with a student booklet and other activities that can be found at Eddie’s Tree House. It is a great way to give your child repetition to the important safety message!
Communication and education are the guiding factors behind firearm accident prevention. By removing the mystery around guns, teaching firearm safety, and encouraging open discussions, you can only help to keep your child safe.
Still have questions? Visit the Eddie Eagle website for parents to learn more and find out how to bring the program to your child’s school.