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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?

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.

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?

riverside1989 Sun 08-Sep-13 14:50:43

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:

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

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

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".

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.

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!!

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.

BeerTricksPotter Sun 08-Sep-13 08:30:07

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

BeerTricksPotter Sun 08-Sep-13 08:27:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Metal connector bit at tip, original Edwardian glass.

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

How on earth could that break the window?

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.

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.

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

CreatureRetorts Sat 07-Sep-13 22:17:59

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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