The Fighting Never Ends

by Janice

I suppose most of you with more than one child immediately pictured quarrelling siblings. But alas, my son Jackson has no siblings to fight with. And Julia — his cousin — is still too small to really put up much of a fight.

No, the fighting I am talking about is my four and a half year old son’s obsession with “battling” and “good guys” vs. “bad guys.” Every stick becomes a sword, every toy engages in conflict. (He has even announced many times, “I only like fighting,” when I suggest he plays another game.)

And it is driving me crazy! Jackson will sometimes concede and do other activities, but his heart remains firmly attached to battling. This is extremely disturbing to me.

The other day we were at the Christian Bookstore choosing some new books for him. The one he instantly fell in love with — and couldn’t wait to get home to read — was David and Goliath. And he didn’t choose the nice cartoon one. No, from across the room he spotted the realistic drawings of David, Goliath and the armies dressed in knight clothing.

“Can we get this one?” he asked, totally captivated and not removing his eyes from the cover to even look at me and beg. He proceeded to request that story over and over for days. He would even want to come in from playing outside to read his David and Goliath book.

And this obsession continues despite my attempts, both subtle and overt, to distract him with more agreeable forms of play.

So my question to you mothers out there: Is this normal?!?

Have any of your boys been fascinated with battling and fighting? What should I do? How concerned should I be? Will he grow out of it soon?



Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Susanne August 27, 2006 at 10:07 pm

I was very frustrated when my boy did this too! I really do think it is a boy thing though. I just tried as best as I could to channel toward battling for God’s kingdom, or letting him get into the biblical stories of battles like David and Goliath but always bringing it to how God battled for David or how God won the battle for Gideon, etc. I think it’s part of their inbred quality as one day men to protect and fight for what is right. Maybe I’m off my rocker. I’m looking forward to reading what other’s will have to say.

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2 Joanne August 27, 2006 at 10:14 pm

Ok, I don’t ACTUALLY have any boys… heh so feel free to take this with a large lump of salt. But I think that some..most?… boys are just MADE that way. And I know we tend to think fighting (of any sort) equals bad in this day and age. But I think that God made our men to fight. Not necessarily to beat each other up in the bar because someone insulted his car, but He’s made men to fight for what is right, to fight for their families, to fight to survive. And, guided in the right direction, that God-given instinct to fight can lead him on his way into an incredible man of God. heh But don’t ask me what that direction is… all I have is My Little Ponies and Barbies.

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3 Julie August 27, 2006 at 11:24 pm

Sounds perfectly normal to me! I think it’s just a boy thing. My son was the same way when he was younger — now he’s 12, doesn’t have an agressive bone in his body, and has never been in a fight at school.

If Jackson is into knights in particular, this would be the perfect time to discuss the full armor of God. :-) Alos, take him to a Renaissance Festival — he would love it!

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4 Zoe August 28, 2006 at 12:10 am

I have two boys, now aged 11 and 15.
Yes normal, in fact just exploring the deep truth of how God made him. God made us for adventure, and in most boys and men adventure parrallels as battle.
My 11 year old is now obsessed with explosions. And not guns and bombs, but nitro glycerine, tnt, that sort of thing!
He doesn’t get to practice for real, but talks abotu it all the time!

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5 EaglesWings98 August 28, 2006 at 3:09 am

Yes boys are just created that way. At a Family Life Today – marriage conference they always said – guys are hunters and gals are gatherers. My oldest who is 3 1/2 yrs old love everything to do with battle, toy guns, swords etc. I believe this time is truly a stage and if we direct them in the right direction – Godly battles they will be fine!
Blessings

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6 EaglesWings98 August 28, 2006 at 3:20 am

sorry, I know I just left a comment, but I hadn’t read my devotional yet and wanted to share it with you, talking about kids and monsters…& battleing:
http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/devotionals/encouragement/

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7 Barb August 28, 2006 at 3:58 am

I have two daughters, no sons. But I have four younger brothers. It’s just as normal as can be – just a boy thing. It’s as instinctual in little boys as playing mommy or dolls is in little girls. And they do outgrow it. Then they play football. And that’s just another form of fighting. :-) Boys will be boys! If you think about the number of boys in the average elementary school, you’ll realize that percentage wise, most of them outgrew it. Thankfully, the “bully” is usally one in hundreds.

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8 KellyC August 28, 2006 at 5:25 am

I have a very boy boy and a very girl girl. I think it’s very normal for the “fighting” stuff to appeal to boys, and my son has “weaned” out of it a bit, now (age 7). But I also did a lot to encourage other things and discourage fighting. Mostly I am concerned about someone getting hurt by the instruments themselves – the sword, the nerf pistol, the ball shooter, etc. So I encourage outside non-living targets and put the stuff on a long timeout when he’s not cooperating. And besides wrestling with Dad, he’s the gentlest, most sensitive boy I know.

Pass the Torch

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9 flipflopmamma August 28, 2006 at 5:29 am

I don’t have any boys either. But I do know that my brother was like this when we were little. Swords, guns, knives. And he grew up just fine, despite how we were raised. We DID NOT grow up in a nice christian environment.

And my hubby and his 2 brothers used to fist fight all the time and his uncle would knock their heads together!! And they grew up just fine…2 of them are youth pastors and the other one is in the army.

I think it’s a normal boy thing. And, new studies just came out (sorry, I can’t give you where to find them, I heard it on the radio, KLOVE I think…klove.com) that baby boys are attracted to trucks and girls to dolls, before their parents are able to push them that way. That’s just how they’re wired!

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10 Bianca August 28, 2006 at 5:49 am

My brother has always been obsessed with all things militaristic. He played with his G.I. Joes all while he was growing up, and now that he’s big he did the airforce thing, and now he’s joined the police force.

We had some pretty major fights when we were kids, too. At least while I was still bigger than him, anyway. Once he got bigger it was too dangerous to pick on him. :)

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11 Ruth August 28, 2006 at 6:31 am

my 3 year old nephew is EXACTLY the same way. he is always telling us (and acting out) bibles stories. esp. david and goliath etc. complete with sound effects and actions.

i think it is that “wild at heart” nature in men that want to conquer and be a hero. :)

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12 Nikkie August 28, 2006 at 7:01 am

My 1 year old is too little I think to play battle. He does do some interesting things to his little people, like eat them, and run them over with their own vechicles!

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13 Mom2fur August 28, 2006 at 7:06 am

Oh, man, is it ever normal! I have 3 boys and the two younger ones live, breathe and eat anything military. (The older one is a computer nerd. Oh…and my daughter plans to be a cop. Does that tell you something?) It’s a t*stost*r*ne thing, you know. A “guy” thing. You get to establish some ground rules because you are ‘mom,’ but you’ve already seen you can’t stop it completely. Don’t even bother, you’ll be wasting your time. You can have a rule never to allow realistic-looking guns in the house, for example. (My youngest are 16 and 19 and man, you should see some of the Airsoft guns they have. The youngest is not allowed to take his off the property. The older one is responsible and besides, he’s an adult. BTW, I made d*nged sure they only shoot tiny, soft pellets. And they only shoot at targets.) But the story of David and Goliath isn’t about the violence…it’s about power! Imagine being as little as Jackson and everyone else is HUGE and always bossing you around! I think toy weapons and stories with battles give little guys that chance to be in charge, if only in make-believe. I like what Susanne said. It’s important that Jackson knows David didn’t pick up that sling for fun and games. He was defending his fellow countrymen and doing God’s work. In other words, there was a reason he flung that rock at Goliath, and it was a good one. Okay, so after all this I guess I’m saying…relax, Mommy!

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14 Adventures In Babywearing August 28, 2006 at 8:05 am

YES- as a mom of THREE boys- I can say this is so very normal. You may want to check out Dr. Dobson’s book Bringing Up Boys: http://www.bringingupboys.com/ – your local library probably has a copy!

That might explain it in the best terms to understanding about that “need” in boys to battle bad guys!

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15 Barbara H. August 28, 2006 at 8:16 am

As others have said — it’s very normal. :) (Along with morbid-sounding comments like, “Mommy, I shot him and he won’t die!” :O I agree with not allowing realistic looking guns. They’re happy making anything into a gun anyway. My youngest always liked the noisemaking ones (that look like sci-fi guns). As they got older we invested in Nerf guns, and they’ve been a riot.

When they went on to video games, we avoided the first-person shooter games. I just didn’t want them to get used to or “like” the feel of that. One of their favorite games is Super Smash Brothers, which seems to be like the old “King of the Mountain” game I played as a kid, only with video game characters and special features.

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16 Becky August 28, 2006 at 10:45 am

Both of my boys are like this…..and it can be frustrating when I want them to be sweet lil’ boys. LOL! I am picky on what kinds of guns i allow in the house….if they look even remotly real NO WAY, if even the toy ones get pointed at someone I take them away. I’m such a mean mom! But they still use their brillant imaginations and come up with something. Sometimes I wonder how much television influences the kids too. then there is the whole realm of video games. I’m very strick on video games and what i allow them to play…..tv i’m not as strick….but i’m seriously considering removing the tv from the second floor bedrooms. I guess I don’t have any real advice or any wise words because I’m going through it too. i just try to teach by example i suppose and hope for the best.

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17 Sandra August 28, 2006 at 10:56 am

Oh yeah, mine is 3 years old and he is the same way. It’s always about fighting and karate and violence, violence, violence….though I don’t think in their minds they see it that way.

It’s perfectly normal for boys to do this, I remember my 3 brothers also being the exact same way.

The only time I really get involved is when I hear my son say stuff like “I’m DEAD”, or “I’m going to kill you” when playing, THAT I don’t like at all, not even if he’s playing and not understanding the impact of the words.

Relax, enjoy being the mommy of boys, it’s fun I tell ya, just a few days ago I posted about his latest obsession with painting my bathroom walls LOL

Have a great day,
Sandra

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18 Laurie August 28, 2006 at 10:58 am

Not only is this a normal boything…it is God ordained. As a male your son is made to protect the women in his life, and that includes you! My boys have gone from swordfighting and wildwest gunslinging to being actual hunters with the mounted deer heads to prove it. Check out the old post at Blestwithsons called “Boy Manifesto”. It is fab! By the way with all the fighting they have done, and the tremendous amounts of wrestling they still do at the advanced ages of 22, 19, and 16 we have never had a broken bone! (A few broken chairs and windows….)

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19 edj August 28, 2006 at 11:04 am

I’ll add to what all the others have said…yes it’s normal. My boys are now 11 and 9 and still fight lots…with swords, light sabers, etc. Yet they are not violent kids at all. We just provided some boundaries–for example, no shooting people, no realistic-looking guns, etc. Their sister joins in sometimes but not often.

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20 Kailani August 28, 2006 at 11:17 am

I only have girls but I do have a nephew and he’s totally into Power Rangers and fighting the bad guys. I think it’s normal and that he’ll grow out of it eventually.

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21 Manic Mom August 28, 2006 at 11:20 am

Totally normal! Next thing you know, he’ll be using the David and Goliath book as a gun.

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22 Christina August 28, 2006 at 12:32 pm

Totally normal. My son Joshua is going to be 22 on Sept. 11th and he was obsessed with this, my other sons, who range in ages from 14 to 3 are also like this. What is so amazing though is if you meet my boys, and the kids teachers, our neighbors, and friends will agree, they are the most soft hearted boys. So this is all game to them. In fact I was in the grocery store with my son Brandon awhile back and a very old lady, who could barely walk, and was using a cane dropped about 200 coupons, I saw my son turn around and look down, and immediately stoop to pick up every single one. When he was done the lady turned to me and said what a nice young man I had. As soon as we got home though, it was back to playing games with my young sons like cops and robbers, wwe wrestling, and my all time favorite sword fighting. so you see this doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the type of young men they become. Its just all play to them. Oh and of course all the above games involve shooting and other assorted fun boys things.

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23 Janice August 28, 2006 at 12:44 pm

You all ROCK!!!!

Thank you all sooooo much for your input – it helps so much! I am such a “girl” that it is all so foreign to me.

I have heard so much about James Dobson’s “Bringing up Boys” and I do plan on reading it soon. (Right now I am trying to find enough time to read “Setting Boundaries with you Spirited Child” – but that is for another post!!!) I also went to a great seminar on raising boys that helped put it in perspective too. But I needed the “mom” input that we women crave. Thanks so much!

About the guns – I was planning on not even allowing water guns, but then reality hit and I realized that that was too extreme. All his friends were playing with water guns and I always had them as a kid. So we have only water guns in the house. I don’t let him have pop guns, but I have let him play with his friend’s pop guns.

I too believe that it is a God given instinct. God made us very specifically and when I watch Julia mother her dolls and Jackson battle the “bad guys,” I know that God designed us for certain instinctive roles in life. I realize that with some boys and girls the instincts are not the same, but with the majority it seems to be pretty powerful. (I also think it is very sweet that Jackson insists that he is the “good guy.” He will get very upset if he has to be a “bad guy.”)

So a huge thank you ladies – now I can breathe a deep sigh of relief!!!

I just love the blogosphere! Where else can you get instant, honest feedback from such a wide profile of people?!?

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24 Stephanie August 28, 2006 at 3:22 pm

Getting on this a bit late, but did want to add another book recommendation; Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. It is not geared toward parenting necessarily, but man did it help me to understand my “man” and and my sons. It is part of God’s design no matter how our culture feels about it.

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25 Tizzie August 29, 2006 at 6:39 am

TOTALLY NORMAL…………my 5 yr old has been in the ‘good guys-bad guys’ stage for the last 2 years……….and someone bought him LIGHT SABERS for Christmas, so I routinely find myself being declared an ‘evil bad guy’ and then having a fierce small boy trying to remove my head with a plastic stick!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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26 nan August 29, 2006 at 6:55 pm

Congratulations! It’s a BOY!!! (just in case you didn’t hear it amidst the excitement at his birth!) ;^) Really… this is extremely normal! I have four boys (6, 4, 2 and 10 months) and I can promise you… battle makes up 85% of their play. When it’s not battle persay, it’s “wrastling”.
My advice is to definitely not discourage this kind of play. He’s a boy and like it or not this is how they are programmed for the most part (not that they can’t also be sensative artist types too… one of mine is definitely an artist and a thinker when he’s not engaging in battle.)
One thing we have done to take their “every thought captive” is to teach them about fighting sin and temptation, the full armor of God, etc… Daddy even formed a club with them called the “Sin Warriors” club. They met together and drew pictures for their meeting place wall and the plan was that they would learn “fighter verses,” verses that would help them remember to fight temptation as they would fight an enemy in battle.
He made it lots of fun for them and you know… it always ended in a good sword fight (they wanted him to have one… so they all have plastic swords, even Daddy.) They were short little “meetings” but they were fun and they played off of the kids’ main obsession. They haven’t done it in a while because we have been so busy moving and doing landscaping. Hopefully they will be able to do it a few more times before the boys find it less interesting and fun.
Anyways, point being, don’t squelch this in him. Let him at it and always turn everything into a teachable moment!
God bless!
Nan

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27 Mary August 31, 2006 at 6:32 am

I don’t have a boy either, but I have a 5 yr old girl who loves to pretend that she is a super hero. I get great enjoyment from watching her perform karate type moves, and she even has her 17 month old sister yelling “hiiiii-ya!” while doing a karate chop.

Maybe you could use the David and Goliath situation to your benefit, and teach him about faith. Also, it might be an opportunity to teach him about good vs bad (him being the good guy/hero), that might be the concept he has in his sweet little heart already? Though it may drive you mad, maybe you can get him to act out with action figures instead, or try drawing a story that you could staple up as a comic book. or he could make characters out of play doh and act it out. (I am probably saying the same thing everyone else already has)

Anna often dictates her narration for these kinds of comic books, and I write it out for her. I am just thinking maybe you could turn it into something positive, maybe even something you could enjoy doing together.

Good luck and God bless, let us know what happens next!

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28 Fruitful Spririt August 31, 2006 at 4:24 pm

My son for four years was a fighting Mutant Ninja Turtle-Donotello! The he followed that for a few as a Power Ranger. Obsessively! But now at 19 he is the most passive person I know. He uses the power of words and reasoning. In time if you show that the real world does not consist of fighting your son will learn better. It is a thing they all go through. My Hubbys era played cowboys and indians. My brothers were into green army men and battleships. This will pass.

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29 cullen August 29, 2007 at 3:28 am

i really dont know how i got to this sight.but i was looking for arena’s to battle in with airsoft guns and i found this but.it is vary much a boy thing or a guy thing.i am 17 and i love.its fun and safe if you take the safty percotions.i dont think i spelled that right but oh well.and if i had all the money i needed to play i would never out grow it.

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