Mummy going insane...

MandyMum

Junior Member
Aug 27, 2015
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I'm going insane. I love my boys (4 and 7 years old) but they've been driving me absolutely crazy.
HELP!
They're absolutely destructive, and have zero remorse. But I don't understand why. I spend a lot of time with them, and try to teach respect for each other and respect for toys and whatnot.

But I still can't turn around for 2 minutes without SOMETHING going wrong.
They'll take things they are't supposed to and throw it around, or break it, or cut it up... despite having been told specifically not to touch said thing.
They don't take care of their toys, even though I work hard at showing them to pick up after themselves after play time... they still just shove everything around and get upset when I explain that isn't how it's done...

In the last two weeks, they've cost me about 100$ in broken or used up things that they weren't supposed to touch...
- used laundry soap to make 'potions' (they snuck it out when playing outside and hid under the deck with it)
- the 7yr old cut images out of a brand new book I'd gotten him to read together. A 25$ book. And glue the pieces back together to make a different book.
- They take sewing thread out of my drawers and throw it around making obstacles etc...
- ransack the kitchen for food when I've just told them no for more snacks
- I've even caught them taking sharp shears from my sewing room (which I keep locked but the oldest uses a pen to unlock the door, and the child lock I installed does nothing either)

I'm at my wit's end... They do all of these things when I'm at the bathroom, or have to answer the phone or the door... or some other situation when I can't be directly watching them.
For the 4yr old I understand a little more... but my 7yr old should know better.

I just don't know what to do anymore... Time outs don't work... they escalate into bigger punishments because they won't stay in a time out.
Quiet talks about respect and not touching things don't work... they forget all about it seconds later...
They giggle at each other right when I'm giving them heck...
I've had to put locks on the arts & crafts cabinet because I can't trust them to stay out of it and not use up everything in minutes... and I especially can't have them using the scissors without direct supervision.

I have zero respect from them and I can't understand why. I've even resorted to spankings lately and it has had ZERO effect in terms of them behaving more. My youngest thought it was FUNNY!

They're such brilliant kids... both really smart for their age... my oldest has even been skipped up a grade because he was learning too quickly for the material given. The youngest can find ways to get past pretty much any obstacle we set to keep him out of things...
But they've spent more time in time outs lately than anything else... They've had most of their toys and things taken away because they keep throwing them or breaking them or not picking them up etc... I can't DO anything fun with them because it always escalates into punishments because they get out of control.

I'm in tears and I don't know what to do. Help?
 
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artmom

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Feb 26, 2015
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When my daughter painted over a large paint by number I was nearing completion I grounded her from paints for a month and she was in her room for the rest of the day. That was when she was 4. She never touched any of my artworks or furniture with paint again.

There may be a difference with how each gender and personality takes discipline. I have babysat boys and I feel like they are the most rambunctious, wild out of the genders. The way I use discipline and punishment is strategy and punishment fitting the crime.
Spanking seems like something you are resorting to because you feel you have to take your fustrations on something physically. It's not working and it can land you legally in hot water depending on the laws where you live.

First thing first, when they do something that gets under your skin, take a deep breath. If you feel yourself getting hot headed, take a moment and reflect on the situation. Try to put yourself in their minds as to why they are doing the things they do. Is it your reaction. Is it that they are bored. Perhaps the toys they have are not tailored to their specific creative/imaginary play needs. Pick your battles. I learned to do this while my daughter was young and I learned to not fret the small stuff, all the while teaching her to respect peoples possessions and her own, but at the same time teach her that inanimate objects are not as important as family and happiness. Things can get replaced if they are able to and if you really want/need to.

Unless you are very open about your finances and your kids are whizzes at math, they have no concept of the value of their toys. Something like Transformers can cost $1 for all they care. They also don't have a clear conscious for your standards of neat and tidy nor do they have the dexterity to accomplish such neatness. I remember way back that I would clean my room and my mom would redo it or tell me something isn't put back right. I would be so confused as to why she would flip out over something I wouldn't see as being messy. I was also very destructive to my toys without realizing it. Cutting my Barbies hair in attempts to give her a new look thinking " Yeah, I got this.", or using actual water in the Barbie bathtub in my cardboard Barbie house. I used color and trace things in my books.
Kids see don't see their toys as valuables, but cherished fun things that they can manipulate however way they want because it's all theirs. And they don't even consider how their parents feel about it because they don't think their parents would care.
I've spent many days tidying, cleaning, fixing toys. Anything broken I would just throw out. I think I did a good job at teaching my daughter how to maintain her toys, but I think I over did it as she became uninterested in playing with them once I started displaying Monster High dolls as collectibles. Either that or it was just at the right time where she stopped playing with toys. She collects My Little Pony and puts them on the display area now.
Anyways, I believe your sons are working together. I don't like to judge by age who the ring leader is, but there is one.
Going back to using strategy, you can teach them clever lesson about what happens when they misuse things and take things without asking. I will leave the ideas up to you as you know your kids better than me. But it should be something that will get their attention big time.

Another idea is to only give them gift on special occasions like birthdays and a gift giving holiday. If they want something extra at other times they should save up for it with their allowance they earn. There is nothing wrong with a 4 year old help out with chores. My mom had me washing dishes when I was that age.

I don't know what kinds of extracurricular activities they are in, if at all. But it would be a good idea to put them in something to direct their energy.
 
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TabascoNatalie

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Jun 1, 2009
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IMHO when children break toys, it means that those toys are either very bad quality or age/personality inappropriate. Some children just are like this -- taking things apart and making inventions is much more interesting than playing according to the "rules". In that case, i wouldn't invest too much in fancy toys and gadgets. Building blocks, craft materials, even some bits and bobs from around the household. Then you won't have to be upset about a broken singing robot.
 

artmom

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Feb 26, 2015
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Lego is supposed to be unbreakable. If they like to invent things and build stuff and take it apart, for your 7 year old you can get him his own starter tool set.
For your 4 year old, there are those wooden colored blocks where you can build towers, you can get him an arts and crafts set. Is there a room or area where you can lay out some of those puzzle mats or tarp and have that as their space?
 

BellaBabyBoutiq

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Sep 1, 2015
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1. I try to stick to Fischer Price toys, Duplos, Wooden Toys, Or Very Indestructible Toys (legos as they get older) and only toys that can really hold up to hard core damage. Most of the Fischer Price stuff holds up well, is child tested and hard as heck to destroy. You can also find lots of used ones at thrift stores if you are on a budget.

2. The kids sound incredibly smart. The smart ones get into trouble because they are so smart that most normal things bore them. It sounds like they love crafts so maybe they should have their own craft corner where they can color, cut, glue and create regularly. So what if it gets destroyed every now and then just throw out the old and replenish with more paper, crayons, markers etc...thank goodness they are cheap. (Make sure they are washable so they won't color your walls).

3. Try using a star system where they have a chance to prove how good they can be. Kids who obey the rules get stars on a chart. So many stars (or stickers) = something from a goody box you have hidden in your car trunk or top of fridge where they absolutely cannot get it. Fill the goody box with fruit snacks, candy, small toys, pinata fillers, small balls, small cheap dollar store toys, army men or plastic animals and things they like. Most of the time it's a temporary gratification but it helps them develop self control.

4. It sounds like they could use some creative toys like blocks or building toys that will keep them busy. (Creative does not mean toys that make messes) Like you might want to avoid the clay pottery wheel or sand toys unless they are outside.

5. Cut a lot of tv out because I feel like TV now teaches the kids to be pretty violent and over active. Or only use good channels that promote peaceful nonviolent thinking.

6. Have a music time where they might listen to music and dance so they can get out some of their energy.

7. Only serve them healthy food, no junk and cut out processed meats and fast food. Try fresh fruits and veggies and a dip or some organic foods. This may cut out bad products that will make your kids a bit hyper active.

8. Have a daily race around the backyard to see who can run the most laps. This will surely wear them out. Who ever wins gets a prize.

9. Get them involved in sports, swimming or local activities. Boy scouts or something constructive.

10. Timeouts might work for you. My kids hated putting their noses on the wall or sitting on the couch for even two minutes.

11. Do some Simon Says, Hokey Pokey and other games that help them get out some energy.

12. Take them skating or to a park where they can get out some energy on a climbing structure. You have to think "Activities that wear them out".
Exercise, Aerobics with you, Running Around the Yard, Marco Polo in the Pool, etc.

13. Children destroy things, thats just what they do, but you need to set boundaries and you need to enforce them. Spanking does not work much but taking away tv time, computer time or other favorite things can work great.

14. Try to set routines up. That is the best for kids who seem out of control. Make a chart and try to stick to meal times, naptimes, etc.

15. Rearrange your house so you can cope with busy kids. Maybe make one room a play room and use a baby gate to keep them in it when you are busy. Take everything dangerous out of it.


16. Ask for help if you need a break from it. See if a Mom, Sister or Friend could give you a break from the busiest one for a while.

17. Alternatively, have a friend watch the easiest ones and take the most difficult one out for a movie or a trip to the store to buy something special when his behavior is good. You have to catch them in the act doing good things and reward them when you see it. Immediately Reward Good Behavior ALWAYS!

18. Subscribe to periodicals they like to read and things that you don't care if they rip, such as Highlights, Discovery Kids, Lego Magazine, or just buy lots of color books at the dollar store. Who cares if they get ripped up. Just keep a pile of them and a huge plastic box full of thick colors that don't break. CVS had the largest Crayola crayons I could get and my 2 year old grandbaby still has not broken those ones.

19. Let them squish the heck out of some playdoh....make some homemade version with them. Throw it away or hide it when you are done so they can't smash it in the carpet.

20. Walmart and Home Depot sell chalkboard paint (I saw it in the paint section at Walmart, make something or a door or wall into a chalkboard and give them some chalk and a chalk eraser, watch them have fun....

21. Buy them cheap hula hoops and watch them wear themselves out!!! I saw them at walmart or the 5 dollar store recently.

I got a million ideas...if you need more let me know....

Best wishes,

Kimberly
(Mom of 4 plus Grandma of 2)
 
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akmom

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May 22, 2012
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Ah, yes. I've seen this behavior too. The easiest thing to do is make them play outside. When they're inside, have them clean up after themselves. Don't let them have free time or access to toys/supplies until they've cleaned up everything from their last ordeal. Eventually they will get tired of cleaning up after themselves and start being more careful.

For example, I would take away bath time after they wasted all that soap. Switch to showers for a week. I'd actually make them glue or tape every picture back into the original book, no matter how long it took, just to show them how tedious it can be to reverse your actions. Definitely make them wind all the thread back into spools, by hand, from the obstacle course.

There is ALWAYS something you can restrict that will get their attention. As a parent, they don't have access to anything without you. If they won't respect timeouts or other punishments, then stop feeding them. You can give them a basic meal of salad greens, nuts, plain cooked beans and rice. No sauces or seasonings. Day after day until they've "earned" a proper meal by cleaning up after themselves and demonstrating decent behavior. Just be specific about your demands. No harm done. No one ever starved off a balanced diet simply because it was bland! But I bet they won't be content with it.

I'm sure if you think about it, there are other things they depend on you for that you can use for leverage. Just be firm once you do.
 

babybibsplus

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Jan 25, 2016
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Is there a man in the picture, if not then try to find a big brother program where they can have time with a man that can help set some rules and help show talk to them about respect for you and others. They also need to learn to earn things. If they have to earn a toy by good behavior or pay for it with their own money then they will act differently. Give a small allowance for good behavior and cleaning up after themselves.
 

Jerseyknox

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