What to do when kids break things

By Jean Tracy, NW Author
KidsDiscuss.com, Parent Newsletter

How do you discipline your kids when they break things? First, decide whether it’s a rare accident or a pattern that stems from disobedience rooted in impulsiveness or not caring. If it’s a rare accident, the consequences you deliver may be simple and straightforward, “Get the broom and clean up the mess.” If it’s a disobedience pattern, then you need to be on the lookout for blaming (“The teapot was too close to the edge of the table.”) or not caring (“What’s the big deal? That’s an ugly old teapot.”)

How will you discipline?

1. Taylor teased the family cat. It backed up as its tail flicked back and forth. You called out, “Taylor quit teasing the cat.” Taylor didn’t. Within seconds the cat’s tail flicked your crystal vase to the floor. It shattered on the tile. “It’s not my fault!” said Taylor. “The cat did it.” What would you do?

2. You’ve told Christopher, “Don’t throw balls in the house.” Today he tossed a hard ball to his little brother. It broke your expensive dining room mirror. When you moaned, “Christopher,” he answered, “What’s the big deal? You can buy another one.” What would you do?

3. Katie was helping you put food on the dinner table. The pewter salad bowl slid through her fingers. The macaroni salad plopped on the wood floor. Your dog, Chum, ate much of it. The floor and the salad bowl were damaged. Katie cried and cried. What would you do?

Kids break things because of accidents or disobedience. The trick is to decide which describes your child. Your decision will determine your discipline. Take a moment now and decide whose behavior above was accidental and whose was disobedient. If it was disobedient, was the child careless, impulsive, or blaming. Please share your ideas below. I’d like to know.

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