Destructive 3 1/2 year old.

Karen - posted on 05/17/2011 ( 5 moms have responded )




Great loving boy but damages things and plants just because he wants to. It's very frustrating for my husband and I. Decipling him is short lived. He says sorry and then he starts laughing and acts like nothing happened. He is a very active boy and wants our attention all a lot. He can also play independently. He's in a very good daycare/school and is our only child. He is a true blessings and we're thankful to have him. Is this just the way little boys are?


JuLeah - posted on 05/17/2011




Try to rethink how you view this.

He has no idea he is harming the plants or items. The word 'sorry' is just the word you make him say; The word that, when he says it, makes you smile at him again. Beyond that, it has no meaning.

He is not sorry. He has no idea he has caused harm. To make him say 'sorry' is actually teaching him to lie.

He wants your attention. That is your answer.

He wants your attention, so rips the leaf off a plant. What happens? He gets your attention. He won't stop doing this behavior if it is meeting his need.

Of course he is laughing, he wanted your attention and he got it.

Try hard to lose judgment labels like good and bad. He is a kid, sometimes his behavior is not what you want, but he is never bad.

Teach him how to get attention from you in different ways.

When he pulls a leaf off a plant, or digs in the dirt, focus on the plant. "Ohh, poor plant" and give the plant a lot of attention, not him.

Get him plants of his own that he can water, grow and love. He will come to understand they are to be cared for, if you work along side him, teaching him how. Give him tons of praise and attention for caring for the plants.

Make sure he has a lot of room to dig, take things apart, make a mess .... this is how kids explore their world. They are scientists .... taking things apart is what they do.

Don't confuse punishment with discipline.

Discipline teaches self discipline. Punishment teaches kids how to sneak, lie, and avoid punishment.

So, make your consequences related to the action. He harms something, he fixes it. He paints on the wall, he cleans the wall.

Sounds like you have a smart, sweet boy there. Have fun.

Louise - posted on 05/17/2011




No little boys do not go around damaging things deliberately. make a behaviour chart for him and see if rewarding good behaviour with sticker and removing them for damaging things has an effect. Make the reward something small like a comic or favourite chocolate bar. Tell him he has to earn 10 stars for his reward. Reward him for playing nicely, drawing a picture or tidying up. If he lashes out and breaks things then take a sticker away.

Also if he is breaking things on perpose then tell him off and put him in time out for 3 minutes then talk to him about why he damaged the plants and tell him it is wrong. At 3 he understands what you are saying so ask him does he understand why he should not break things. Always end the chat with a hug.


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Ev - posted on 05/09/2014




One thing not mentioned here has been the word consistent. You need to be consistent in all you do and keep doing the same things with him so he can learn what is right and what is not right. He is also trying to push boundaries. Have you set those? These can be set at a very young age. He is more than old enough to know that certain things are not done and why. Praise his good efforts when he does them and you catch them. When he does the things not wanted, then you need to set the consequences with the actions. He needs to learn that he can not go around doing things just because it gets him attention.

Sarah - posted on 05/09/2014




Very helpful comments my boy is like this I'v done reward charts an the sad spot an always end on a kiss an hug after the chat on what he did wrong or what I disapproved of.
He is a lovley boy when he's out in the open an if were shopping for a period of time ect I guess I'm just unsure if I'm doing the wright thing because he's such an active boy to keep up with lol an he gets districting by throwing things , emptying toys over the floor for no reason to get my attension which of course works but then I'll try get him to tidy up after himself an he won't. I guess we would like him to respect things an others more how can I teach him this. And he's also good as gold for others usually.
Any advice would be gud :)

Sherri - posted on 05/17/2011




Although I agree with a lot of what JuLeah said I have to respectfully disagree about discipline if done correctly it will not teach them to lie or sneak. It is also done to correct a behavior and done to teach them what is or is not acceptable behavior. It can be done and be a great learning experience. Just my 2 cents.

Katherine - posted on 05/17/2011




Behavior chart!!!!!! As Louise said. Works like a charm.

*****Edit to add: Once the sticker is there don't ever take it away. He just doesn't get another sticker. If you take it away you are taking away his positive reinforcement.

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