Originally Posted by Vikingdad
Discipline starts as soon as the child is self-aware, once that time passes if you haven't taken the lead it is often monumentally difficult to regain your position as a parent rather than an equal. I have never had to use physical discipline methods with my boys in over 15 years (as a matter of fact that would have been counter-productive with my youngest son and would have served to alienate my older son out of fear.) We have a strong relationship and they respect me (although sometimes they will test that as boys will do). I started conditioning them to the fact that guns are in the house and not to be touched as soon as they began to understand the differences between objects in their lives (they started knowing the difference between a dog and a stuffed animal for instance).
This went on and developed over time to be something similar to the NRA Eddie Eagle program (more or less). I would periodically run "tests", leaving an unloaded gun somewhere in the house where they would come across it to see what they would do. Without fail they would not touch it and as soon as they saw it they would come running to get me or their Mom. I would also tell them every time that they would one day be trained on how to safely handle and shoot guns when their Mom and I decided they were ready, which ended up being at 7 years old for the oldest and 6 for the younger brother.... Mom's decision. I was angling towards 5 years old but we had to be in total agreement for it to work. They were also told that there was no room for accidents or mistakes. One accident or mistake would result in them being unable to handle guns for a longer period of time. Period.
That conditioning still works today now that they are handling firearms on an almost daily basis. If there is a gun left somewhere where it doesn't belong (regardless of where we are) they do not touch it, they notify me or another adult to its presence. Every gun is checked for safe every time it is handled, even if it is handed from one person who has just checked it to another who watched the first person check it. No room for mistakes.
Shooting really is great fun for the whole family. We have competitions with the 22s. Some of the women are better shots.