The other morning when I went to Family Friday, my son’s lovely Kindergarten teacher pulled me aside to show me the Pattern Book he had been working on. The idea is that one part of the storyline remains constant, which helps reinforce word recognition and teaches plot advancement, and that only the endings change. As we were approaching the wall, I didn’t have to see the name in order to recognize my son’s handiwork. He’s one of those boy-boys who loves superheros, bad guys, action and weapons. As you can see in the pictures, the refrain of the pattern book was “I cut off” (fill-in-the-blank) “bad guy’s head.” At first, my heart sank a little. I was sure the teacher was pointing it out in a worried what’s-the-deal-with-your-kid sort of way. Then she went on about his imagination and the level of detail in his stories. Though I was relieved, because I have taken the same position with him, I wonder whether I should be worried about the content of the drawings. I had a sister (aka a house full of girls) and my older son favors drawing ears and faces, so this superhero violent stuff is new to me. Anyone with boys care to weigh in?


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Comments (11)


  1. I have the sweetest, kindest, gentlest little boy who loves to discuss how various kinds of firepower can destroy your body. Almost all play is gunplay. His favorite activity is playing video warfare with his sweet, kind, gentle father. I focus on the sweetness of his nature and watch that the warfare stays in the imaginative world, that he doesn’t enjoy kicking puppies or hurting other people physically or emotionally. I try to keep his exposure to violence in the fantasy realm unless it’s something historical we can discuss. I try to remember that he is different from me and this is a common area of interest for little boys. I just keep tabs on it…..

  2. Posted by: mae

    my friends son, 7, loves drawing guns. even the easterbunny craft project at school got a machine gun. I try and think of it this way: if we where hunter gatherers, our little boys would be out with their dads learning to hunt. so it’s all natural interest.

  3. Posted by: Sarah J

    I would say don’t worry based on drawings alone. My younger brother drew all in black and the teachers worried about his state of mind (turned out he was colour blind and high contrast black on white was just so much more interesting for him) and my son’s obsession with vehicles and machines seems to border on mania when a pen is in his hand.

    All I’d consider is how your child behaves outside of his art projects. If he’s treating his siblings and peers with kindness and not trying to hurt them, and he knows the difference between what he draws and how the real world is, I’d let his imagination run free.

  4. Posted by: Jenny

    I have 3 boys and have given the subject a lot of thought. I think these kind of drawings or play show a sense of personal strength, value of good over evil, and a personal responsibility to stand up for the good. These are positives in my book. I would only worry if a child’s violence showed harm to himself or other real people. Ironically this kind of drawing is actually a sign of innocence. Wouldn’t you love to live in a world where evil is always obvious and good always wins? The world will become all shades of confusing gray too soon. So, don’t worry, celebrate!

  5. Posted by: Trisha

    I also grew up in a house full of women (4 sisters). My experience w my son was the first time I was thrown head first into the world of boys. At the beginning of this school year when we went to see a picture my son (1st grade) had drawn of his family – we were all there. Inside the house he had drawn mom, dad, sister & baby brother & oh yeah, the house just happened to be on fire. I was horrified – mortified! I seriously couldn’t believe it. When I asked his teacher about it she said she had asked him about the picture & he didn’t seem to think anything about the house being on fire – he just added it in. We also asked him. Her opinion, knowing him, was that it wasn’t a big deal.
    When his younger sister (who typically sticks w princesses & flowers) drew me a picture of a ‘zombie baby that was covered in blood’ – again I was horrified. Sensing my concern she reassured me by saying – oh actually it’s just a regular baby covered in ketchup so the zombies don’t get her. Hmm.
    The problem is – when you are a kid, ‘art’ isn’t objective. It’s a way people look at what’s going on inside your head & maybe sometimes read too much into it. Think of all the adult artists who are just considered artists – not potential sociopaths!
    I know at my son’s school they are not allowed to draw guns, etc & I’m fine w that. He also consistently draws space, planets, pirate ships & dinosaurs. I’m not concerned about my kids drawings anymore bc I see their behavior & I feel like that’s more of a reflection of their sociopath potential than their art. :)

  6. Posted by: Consuelo

    Less tv and video games will probably help. All he is doing is trying to ” digest ” the violent images he sees on ” children’s media”. Try kings, queens, and fairytales instead.

  7. My son loves drawing guns but it’s all in the context of his fantasy world. I don’t think he has any real idea of what a gun is. He just knows he loves GI Joe. Who didn’t when they were little? He’s a hero. I think it’s a great picture and your son is quite artistic.

  8. never you worry! my peace loving boys have been drawing blood and gore all their life!

  9. I have three boys aged 11, 8 and 4. When my first son was young, I was super strict – no gun toys, only PBS kids shows etc. I don’t like guns and I didn’t want to encourage gun play in my house. When my 2nd son was 3, he got tinker toys for Christmas. Immediately made it into a gun. Chewed toast into a gun. Has an amazing ability to find a stick on the ground that looks exactly like a revolver. I am still very involved in what they watch, but I really believe that boys are hardwired to want to fight – I have changed my opinion and allow the toy guns. I am not worried about the drawings either. My boys are sweet and snuggly, but they are still boys!

  10. Posted by: Marli

    One of my oldest friends spent every free moment of our first grade year drawing weapons and renderings of Freddy Krueger movies. By high school, he was a fantastic musician. Now he’s doing well for himself at Sony Music — a wealthy/creative hybrid type who is a dead ringer for Wayne Coyne.

    The boy cousin for whom I was a nanny played with stick ‘swords’ and ‘guns’ for years, and he and his friends have played Call of Duty non-stop through middle and high school. (And now so do I, consequently.) None of them have ever been in a single serious fight.

    I tend to think these images are some boys’ ways of dealing with concepts of injustice/justice and reconciling the imbalance of being little people in a world where strength and size win. (I’d be interested to hear your son’s thoughts on why the good guy is so much smaller than the bad guy. And, for a different reason, on his depiction of movement through several heads: That’s an interesting spatial understanding for a little kid.)

    Your son seems to have aspirations of fighting the good fight — I think that’s to be commended. Be grateful he’s cutting the head off the bad guy. I think in his heart he is every bit the heroic good guy he hopes he might be one day. That’s pretty awesome.

  11. Posted by: Cynthia

    I found the link to an interesting BBC article that I came across a few years ago after I, too, was pulled aside by my son’s teacher. I think it was the exploding helicopter and dead rescue worker that freaked her out. Soon after, I was fortunate to hear Michael Thompson speak and he addressed this very subject in one of his talks. He helped me to understand what was developmentally appropriate and what was essentially my own hysteria. The issue of power is so pervasive in the lives of boys and can easily be misinterpreted as a sign of aggression.

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