Nearly 4 year old has smashed bay window: how would you handle this parenting situation?

(51 Posts)
MrsCocoa Sat 07-Sep-13 16:37:14

DS (who is generally a high-energy/physically boisterous child) was waving a foam pole with a metal connector bit on the end this morning and smashed it clean through our bay window. Now shelling out £££s for emergency glazing service.

He started off denying it was anything to do with him, but after we sat him down he acknowledged it was down to his actions, but an accident, and said sorry (sort of). We've tried to impress on him how important it is to look after our house and things in it and the seriousness of this specific incident, but I'm not sure the message is getting through, but also conscious that he is still too little to understand the potential consequences of many of his actions. He's four next month: not sure what my expectations should be?
How would you handle this?

OhBuggerandArse Sat 07-Sep-13 16:40:00

Don't let him have poles.

forevergreek Sat 07-Sep-13 16:40:50

I'm not sure you can tell him off really, he's 3. Why did you let him wave a pole around in the house??

Floralnomad Sat 07-Sep-13 16:40:57

I don't see you can do any more than you have done after the incident . Was he outside and smashed it or inside ,because if he was inside then maybe you should be a little more aware of what he is playing with in confined areas.

.... and where were you?

haverer Sat 07-Sep-13 16:42:58

He didn't know it was going to cause any damage. I know the consequences were serious but he couldn't have known that. I wouldn't make a big deal about it and not let him wave poles about again.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsCocoa Sat 07-Sep-13 16:50:24

Just to explain it is an innocuous looking kid's foam-based play kit stored in his toy box. And I do sometimes need to turn my back on him to attend to other child etc ...

reelingintheyears Sat 07-Sep-13 16:50:50

What they all said, he's only three and he didn't do it on purpose.

reelingintheyears Sat 07-Sep-13 16:52:12

It's serious to you because it's expensive, but he doesn't understand that.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 07-Sep-13 16:52:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Floggingmolly Sat 07-Sep-13 16:55:08

It was an accident. We've had several windows broken by footballs; it's unfortunate (and expensive) but I can't see what "handling" has to be done.

You've done enough.

The poor boy is only 3, and it was an accident. What sort of message are you trying to get through to him?

Different if he was always breaking things and had no regard for the house and breaking things, but this was just an accident.

SchmaltzingMatilda that is a horrible suggestion. It was an accident, the consequence of which was a broken window, the poor boy doesn't need to be systematically deprived of a treat to 'pay' for it.

I would only use your suggestion if a child had deliberately broekn something after warnings not to.

Pagwatch Sat 07-Sep-13 16:58:13

He is too young to have the ability to anticipate the consequences of waving around a toy which presumeably you gave him to play with.
If you couldn't anticipate that giving him a great big pole might result in n accident then he can't be expected to.

Tell him not to wave stuff sound in the house as he might hurt someone. Don't lecture a three year old about the seriousness and importance of caring for things in the house.

usualsuspect Sat 07-Sep-13 17:02:00

I would tell him not to wave poles about,then I would tell him no one is cross with him because it was an accident.

Then I wouldn't mention it again.

lisylisylou Sat 07-Sep-13 17:23:04

it sounds like an accident and a boy thing to be honest. Reminded me of when my boy was 4 and he waved a baseball bat into the tv! He'd been waving it around and I had been cooking in the kitchen! It's taught me and Dh not to have big toys in the sitting room and was more of an expensive lesson to us! Don't really see what else you can do about it tbh! As my mum says when I'm stressing about my ds 'he'll be pushing a trolley around the supermarket when he's older just like the rest of us!'

Ifcatshadthumbs Sat 07-Sep-13 17:27:43

Small child waves around foam bat from his toy box? Sounds like fairly standard 4 year old behaviour to me (and I'm a fairly strict parent)

Tee2072 Sat 07-Sep-13 17:28:00

It was an accident. The most I would do is remove the pole from where he can reach it without your help.

Now move on.

Viviennemary Sat 07-Sep-13 17:32:45

He is only three after all. Nevertheless, you should discourage boisterous behaviour. If you don't it will only get worse.

stormedmentor Sat 07-Sep-13 17:32:50

I'm with ohbugger
Don't Let Ds have poles then
OP I send you some strong wine

lisylisylou Sat 07-Sep-13 17:34:19

Stormed mentor can you send me some glasses of wine? Otherwise a bottle would be good haha

lljkk Sat 07-Sep-13 17:39:23

No poles allowed in house.

lljjk - hmm I know it is your home and all. But. You should not discriminate like that. wink

He's a similar age to my ds. There's no way I could expect him to fully understand. I'd make sure you didn't have anything like that inside the house and I'd also be worried about my windows! Not very strong!

Could you perhaps give him a few small chores to do - jobs that are part of taking care of the home, like dusting, polishing etc - partly as a way of him 'earning' a bit of the cost involved in the repair, and partly as way of teaching him about taking care of his home?

Andro Sat 07-Sep-13 18:57:29

Remove the item from his 'inside' toy box and put it with his 'outside' toys (or whatever you do with toys which are only allowed outside'. Explain that mummy has decided that this toy better used outside, where there is more space.

lougle Sat 07-Sep-13 21:08:50

'Could you perhaps give him a few small chores to do - jobs that are part of taking care of the home, like dusting, polishing etc - partly as a way of him 'earning' a bit of the cost involved in the repair, and partly as way of teaching him about taking care of his home?'

He's 3 years old sad

Goldmandra Sat 07-Sep-13 21:39:50

Any toys like that, e.g. light saber are have always been kept where only and adult can access them and supervise play in our house so they temptation to wave them around wildly just isn't there.

I would take this as a lesson learned about which toys to leave accessible. If he starts waving anything else around I'd ask him not to do that in the house and, if necessary, remind him of how breaking the window made Mummy and Daddy sad and that you don't want it to happen again.

I wasn't suggesting hours of housework, lougle - just a couple of small bits of helping round the house. I think nearly 4 years old is old enough for a proportionate consequence.

I think a nearly 4 year old should help around the house regardless. Something I'm struggling with mine but I think it's worth it.

Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 22:31:00

Well, if you couldnt predict what would happen if a four yo waves a metal pole around how was he supposedto?

Let this one go and put in place much stricter rules about what is indoor/outdoor toys /behaviour

Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 22:35:58

Also, get it replaced with safety glass, check your other windows and be glad no-one was hurt.

MrsCocoa Sun 08-Sep-13 00:12:22

Thanks all. Safety glass now in place.
NB. We're taking a 70cm long tube of foam with a metal tip not industrial scaffolding equipment.

curlew Sun 08-Sep-13 00:16:38

How on earth could that break the window?

MrsCocoa Sun 08-Sep-13 00:42:27

Metal connector bit at tip, original Edwardian glass.

lougle Sun 08-Sep-13 07:59:26

See, I agree with 'natural consequences' butt in thus case, he was using a toy stored indoors, intended for indoor use. No 3 year old should be able to risk assess potential property damage from a metal tip that their own parent didn't recognise as a risk. In this case the natural consequence is for the parent to bear -give your child an unsuitable you and a window may get broken.

Pipparivers Sun 08-Sep-13 08:10:12

Almost 4 is definitely not to young for chores. My dc isn't yet 2 and takes his plate through to the kitchen when we finish eating, puts scraps in the bin and then plate into sink. His dirty clothes go into the wash basket. If he spills something he gets a cloth to clean it up. I have enforced this from him being tiny, he is very proud that he is responsible for looking after the house. He can and will do more on an adhoc basis. He isn't an angel and has tantrums bad behaviour etc but I think it really promotes self esteem to share in family tasks.

Saying that I don't think that was your problem with this. It seams to be an accident.

Chubfuddler Sun 08-Sep-13 08:18:02

So if you didn't anticipate said very small metal tip would break original Edwardian glazing why on earth should a three year old?

Lesson learned. It was an accident. End of.

curlew Sun 08-Sep-13 08:25:07

Personally, I'm on favour of "What a shame, that was a pretty window. And now we're going to have to wait in for the man to come and fix it so we can't go to the park after all" sort of consequences for this sort of accident. And it was an accident. We call this sort of thing "an accident that needn't have happened". Not a complete "never mind, just mop it up" sort of accident. Or a "You boneheaded dingbat, what were you thinking?". Somewhere in between.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

outtolunchagain Sun 08-Sep-13 08:28:25

I'd thank heaven that it was a window that was broken and not an eye. I cannot think of any toy that has a metal tip that is suitable for a three year old to play with unsupervised

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SoupDragon Sun 08-Sep-13 08:34:05

Good lord some of you are annoyingly "perfect" hmm

A friends son broke a pane of glass in my bay window with a bendy rubber sword. It's not difficult.

OP, it was an accident. Your DS won't completely understand (after all, it's fixed and thus not important in his mind). You've explained, he's agreed and accepted it - I would leave it at that. Occasionally I may use it as an example to remind him how he needs to be careful "Do you remember what happened when you had that foam pole? Yes? Well, remember to be careful where things may get broken."

Now he has a clear example of why you don't do certain things in the house - it's really the only way to learn things properly.

Rooners Sun 08-Sep-13 08:39:27

I think from the fact that he is only three, you can relax knowing that it was a genuine error of judgment on his part and he will not turn into a house wrecking nightmare anytime soon.

I don't think you need to punish him, or teach him anything apart from the fact it was good that he admitted he did it.

Seriously nothing stronger will even go in, if you try. Let it go and sorry about the expense, and the original glass sad I feel for you!!

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sun 08-Sep-13 08:39:55

The glass is gone now....sad original glass like that was just waiting for someone's elbow or a flying toy....he's 3...there's nothing more to do.

RawCoconutMacaroon Sun 08-Sep-13 09:08:09

I would be much more concerned about the safety issue - your DS could have been seriously injured or worse by a falling shard of glass.

He is way too young to be responsible for this accident, but not too young to be told "be careful, the glass could break and hurt you because it's sharp".

lougle Sun 08-Sep-13 09:36:18

Chores in general yes, but not as a consequence of this.

As only 4 years and an accident with no ill intent, I think chalk this up to experience. Hopefully you can claim on hose insurance.... Has this changed his behavior? Will he abide by a no-carrying-stick or similar in the house rule now? It's always hard at this age as they have so much energy difficult to get rid of but lots of sports etc.. may help. If he has pocket money or special treat you could remove this for a short period, but I would not let it go on too long. Make sure he knows it's the behavior you do not want not him.

Answer from Jill Wheatcroft of Riverside Cares - Jill is a Lecturer in Child Health and Director of Trainng:

Goldmandra Sun 08-Sep-13 16:08:47

If he has pocket money or special treat you could remove this for a short period

Why advocate punishing a child of three over such a long period for what was essentially an accident?. Was he warned that his actions were inappropriate and what the consequences would be if he continued? Is he mature enough to comprehend the implications of no pocket money? In fact is he old enough to really understand having pocket money in any way but the most superficial in the first place?

Sanctions should be used a last resort, imposed following warnings, be immediate or within a short time and developmentally appropriate.

How is a three year old supposed to understand missing out on money to buy a treat a couple of weeks after this incident which occurred as a result of a minor misjudgment on his part?

I was not suggesting chores as a punishment. I thought it was a way to teach taking pride in looking after the home.

When children are older (old enough to have pocket money, and to appreciate that things have a cost and a value), I see nothing wrong in making them pay towards the cost of repairing/replacing things they have broken. Sometimes, with our dses, that has meant doing jobs, by way of reparation - and in this case, I thought doing a few little chores would be a way for this lad to make a contribution towards the costs of repairing the window.

Of course it should be proportionate, and appropriate to his age and understanding.

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