My eight-year-old son mistreated an iPad and broke a screen protector. It was an accident but very easily preventable. Had the impact been much worse, it would have been ruined.

The way I was raised - and still much believe - is that the relatively small cash value (a bit under $10) is much less important than the mistreatment. This is especially true when it isn't his iPad.

Should the cost of replacing said protector come from allowance for general chores or have its own dedicated (and preferably unliked) payment, such as cleaning the bathroom a few times? Should it be handled another way entirely?

  • 1
    To add to the answer given, I believe the consequences of one's actions should be logical if they are to be effective in teaching. It's hard to see cleaning the bathroom several times as anything but punitive, wheras paying for something that needs replacement because of ones actions is perfectly logical. Finally, the manner in which something occurred matters as well. When my kids were young, I bought cheap dishes and glasses, because accidents happen. Apr 14, 2017 at 8:59

3 Answers 3


If your son know the rules in advance and understood that this was not the way to treat the device, then a consequence is fair. If you are feeling like charging him isn't the way to go, you might give him a choice.

  1. You pay for replacement but he does not get the device for a set period of time.
  2. Or, he pays for part of the replacement and loses the device for a shorter period of time.

  3. Or, he pays for total replacement and loses the device for the shortest amount of time.

You can tell him that the choices might be different next time -- if there is a next time.

This might be a great time to discuss how hard you work for the money and explain on his level about budgets and how much income can reasonably be used for this sort of thing. It is never too early to understand that you must meet your other responsibilities before you can buy the 'fun' stuff.

  • 1
    +1 - Nice choices. If he pays fully, does waiting depend on breaking rules? Sometimes accidents are accidents, other times, someone put an item in a precarious situation (I can imagine ?writing? on the screen protector.) The rule has to be known in advance, I would think. Apr 14, 2017 at 15:15
  • @anongoodnurse IMO, that is up to the OP and seriousness of the broken item -- as in how many times the child had been warned to be careful, was he roughhousing or using in in a manner that lent itself to breakage . (He knew better.) A waiting period makes some sense. ("I am not going out again today orI can't buy it until payday." That wait is not punitive. Also imo, a true accident is not punished. That doesn't mean an item is replaced -- sometimes if I break something, I no longer have it anymore, or have to save to replace it.
    – WRX
    Apr 14, 2017 at 17:35

The financial impact will hit harder when it comes out of HIS income, rather than a magical fairy income swooping in to save the day preventing him from feeling the hardship of losing part of his fixed income to his decisions.

You might say half his allowance goes toward the price until it's fully paid off.


If he is to pay for the screen protector, don't force him by taking from his allowance. Allow him to decide what amount to give you until it's paid. Of course, within reason. Taking the money seems like restitution. How many of us like to pay anything that way?

He's old enough to understand he won't be using the item again until it's properly protected. If he pays in full or in 2 payments, when the amount is satisfied, take him with you to the store and have him purchase the item. Walking past all the toys he would have rather spent his money on.

Then explain if it's broken again, that not only will he be replacing the protector, but he's lost the privilege to use your iPad entirely and will need to purchase a tablet of his own to be so careless with.

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