Monday, April 7, 2008

Destruction in the Land of Plenty

Both of my kids have special nicknames that I’ve listed in my profile on my blog, in addition to their simple initial “names” that I use to try to give them an illusion of privacy and safety on the Internet. M is, and always will be my “Turkey.” K is “Accident-Prone Man Jr.” and “Destructo-Boy.”

K, as of late however, has been leaning more toward the “Destructo-Boy” label rather than the “Accident Prone.” This is both good and bad. I’m thankful that he’s not hurting himself quite as regularly as he once did, but the destroying things is really grating on my nerves (and, in some cases, my wallet).

K, I say, watching him as he swings his new yo-yo around in circles and knocking it into various objects around the room, you’re going to break it. Rinse, repeat, 10 more times until suddenly the yo-yo breaks in half after a particularly hard crack against the floor.

It broke Mommy! K cries, utterly distraught and completely oblivious to the fact that I’d warned him 10 times to NOT swing it around or it would break.

We have to get a new one! He wails. Uh. No, we don’t.

I have gone to buy a new whateveritis only twice when he has broken things. Both instances were when he broke something of his sister’s. I didn’t think it would be fair to punish her for his destructive behavior.

I remember watching an episode of Super Nanny where there were two boys who loved to destroy their toys. Jo said it was because they had so many toys they didn’t really care if some were broken. I’ve already written that I know this is the case with my son.

I don’t know how to get him to respect his sister’s things however. If he breaks his own toys, well, that’s his problem. If he breaks his sister’s things? Well, that’s just not fair to her.

Mostly my solutions are to make M keep most of her toys in her room, then tell K he’s not allowed in her room unless she invites him in to play with her. At the same time that I’m telling her this, I think that she should be able to leave a few of her things out in the common area of the house without fear that it will be broken in her absence.

I’m hoping that K will outgrow this destructive habit (probably just in time for the baby to take over destroying things) but sometimes I wonder if that’s ever going to happen.

What do you think? Is this a phase that he’s going through? (A phase that’s lasting years?) Or is there something else going on here that I’m missing out on teaching him?


Anonymous said...

Well, good 'ol Dr.s Fay (Love and Logic) would recommend you make this K's problem-- right now it's your problem and, on occasion, M's problem. To make it his problem, you can ask what he plans to do about this. Chances are he won't have any ideas, and you'll be able to give him some.

One idea is for K to "pay" for anything he breaks that is not his own. Since K probably doesn't have any money, he can "pay" for replacement with his own collateral-- in this case, his own toys. He can't just give you any McD's toy, though-- it has to be something WORTH what he broke. In return, you will loan K the $ to purchase the replacement. This is great because punishing K isn't solving the problem-- M's toy is still broken, you're frustrated, and the punishment is difficult to fit to the "crime."

To earn back his own toy, he'll need to do some things for you that save you time and energy. Things like cleaning something, helping in the yard, etc. He can work off his debt to you. So, he's not getting something for nothing.

At first, he might not care about the toys he's losing, because he has a lot (this happened with Noise, too.) But the trick is that it has to be a truly worthy toy-- so it will probably be something prized. (I'm really mean. I keep the coveted toy on my dresser, so that Noise and Funk can't forget that they don't have it.)

I don't know if this will work for you, but I enjoy using Love and Logic on things like this, when I can keep my cool. Most of the time it works, and at the very least it makes it their problem rather than yours.

And then sometimes I just forget it all and YELL!

Kara said...

This is the norm with my son, J, too. He's just rough and doesn't seem to care about his things...until it's too late. I think I say, "Be careful with that," at least 20 times a day.

susiej said...

Whenever I'm stuck with a problem like this, my parenting mentor always tells me to have "him decide." In other words, let your son decide what his punishment should be for breaking his sisters stuff. You will be surprised at how much this will make him think, and how tough his punishment will be.

Oh, and no. It's not a phase! It keeps happening here! But, he may also be feeling a little anxiety about the baby's arrival.

Michelle said...

Oh, I love Dawn's idea up there - that sounds like a great plan. That's probably the third or fourth recommendation I've heard for the Love & Logic book. Smooch is 2, so I should probably start reading it soon, huh?