How do I get my sweet toddler to stop tearing up books?

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Jenny - posted on 05/29/2012

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There are a few things you can try ( I do not punish, use time-outs or power struggle with children,so I will only give methods that teach and preserve relationships).
1. You can put all books up out of reach, child can only have a book when it's a joint activity with mom/dad.
2. State firmly that books are not to be torn and that " I will have to take the book and put it away if you tear it up". Follow through with this. If she cries stay calm, " I'm sorry that we have to put the book away, I know you were having so much fun with it, but we don't tear books, let's try again later". Let her/him cry and do not try and stop it. Acknowledge him/her, " I can see that you are angry (name the emotion) about not being able to tear the book and that's ok, you can be angry". Do not make her/him feel bad for crying, no need to send away or punish, this is natural and needed if this is what the child feels. It's a type of loss to them, whether we believe that or not. Stay close by if you can or hold her if she needs that. Child will cycle through the emotions and become calm. Give her a hug and redirect attention with her input as what activity she can do next. This is empathy/guidance and part of how we actually teach children to self regulate emotionally. It's also the child learning problem solving whether she/he can comprehend or not.
3. Toddlers love to explore and are very tactile little beings. So instead of saying no you can say, " We don't tear books but here is what you can do instead ________". Give another option of an acceptable activity and go straight to it. You can even create a box of things that can be torn up that you don't have a problem with, and let her tear that stuff up. This allows for the child to still fulfill her natural, curious, exploring needs but in a controlled fashion that's acceptable to you and will not destroy things that are important. If you see her tearing a book up again, you can remind her that we don't do that, put the book up and remind her gently about her 'messy box' and let's go get it. She will loose interest in tearing up books. She may very well loose interest period in tearing anything up. When parents don't push back and kids have their natural developmental needs met in another acceptable way to you, kids loose interest naturally. The more we push in a controlling fashion/fear based way, as with any human the child/adult will push back harder. We are actually wired to do so from birth so we can understand and work with it, or make things much more difficult. This also nurtures, authentically teaches vr. a child being obedient through fear and keeps intact the bond between parent/child. I hope some of this helps. =)

Happy - posted on 05/30/2012

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A friend of mine told me this trick and it has worked beautifully for our toddler. All of the catalogs that you get in the mail, let your toddler "read" them, showing her how to be gentle and not tear the book up. Reinforce the learning by telling her no and taking the book away every time she starts to tear it. Eventually she will get it and you can let her have real books.

S. - posted on 05/29/2012

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I'd just put them away for now get them out for story time and then put them back away, if your toddler grab's at the pages when your reading just move there hands away and say no. Iv had two kids that like to rip books.

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Ann - posted on 05/29/2012

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I always kept books up where my kids couldn't get to them until they learned to treat them better.

Kristin - posted on 05/29/2012

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My daughter is 1 and she likes to chew on books. I gently take the book away from her and say no yucky and i have done this for 3 days and now she does not chew on books or rips them. My son who is now 6 liked to rip books and magazines when he was a toddler and the only thing that worked was to take them away and say gently that they cant rip books and that they need to play with their toys. If this still doesnt work than maybe you need to move your books to an area that your toddler cant get into until they are older and will know that they cant tear books up. Hope this helps

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