9

So the rule is, during and after dinner no iPad or games. I let her play when she gets home from school until tea time if she wants. That's roughly 2 and half hours but she's rarely on it for that much time as she hops between activities. Anyways.

It's bed time at this point, she grabbed her iPad and I asked her to put it down as she knows the rules. She exclaims she doesn't and has never heard that rule before, chucks her iPad while sulking, onto the lounge which then bounces off and hits the floor. Let it be known she did this exact same thing 2 nights ago to which I also then told her not to chuck the iPad in anger, it could break.

Well tonight it did break. All the bottom is smashed, as it fell onto our tiled floors.

I immediately seen red. Fantasised about planting a big smack on her butt and sending her to bed. Of course I didn't. I had a father growing up who would flog me and my siblings constantly, yell and swear at us, so it's basically my parenting goal to be nothing like him.

She stormed off into her bedroom before she even knew it broke. I walked in several minutes later, basically just said "you're ipad is now broken because you chucked it in anger. That behaviour is not acceptable in this house. Your actions and temper just now have been appalling and I am very upset you acted the way you did. In turn you now have a broken iPad which you will not be getting back any time soon. Lay in bed and think about your actions. I love you. Goodnight."

She did say back "I didn't chuck it in anger! I didn't mean to!" But I told her to stop talking and go to sleep. I'm not going to give her iPad back any time soon, nor am I going to replace the screen.

I honestly can't believe she acted that way. I know kids will be kids. Hormones, outside influences and such make an impact on their behaviour. But seriously her attitude is getting out of control.

I'm a pretty easy going parent, I'm calm, I don't swear or yell or smack. And I know she won't ever be perfect and she's just a pretty normal kid. But it's still hard to deal with. I don't want to imagine when she is a teenager.

What is my best course of action after this?

  • 6
    Pretty much what you wrote in your question: it's an opportunity to teach her that things don't magically replace themselves when she throws and breaks them. Re-explain her calmly when she starts begging for a replacement. (If she were a teenager, I'd also suggest she work her way into buying a new screen to give her a sense of how work goes into buying an iPad.) – Denis de Bernardy Aug 28 '17 at 10:43
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    Possibly this is also a good time to talk to her about correctly handling disappointment and anger. Channel it properly. – DCook Aug 28 '17 at 12:06
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    I'd give her the smashed iPad and ask her to keep it to be exchanged for a new one in a couple of years or when this one would be due for replacement. – Diego Sánchez Aug 28 '17 at 13:40
  • All the good advice from the others on using it as a teaching moment + buy a lifeproof or other shatter-resistant case for the next iPad! – Brusselssprout Aug 29 '17 at 14:31
  • It`s the opportunity to have a 7 years old that DOES NOT have a personal iPad. – Caterpillaraoz Sep 5 '17 at 13:04
8

I found with my kids that it was much more effective for me to let them experience the natural negative consequences of their behavior than it was for me to tell them about the consequences.

So, in your situation, I would have tried to separate the situation into two different issues:

  1. Lying about rules and throwing her belongings are not appropriate behavior in your house. You can speak to her about other options she could have chosen, and any consequences that might arise because she didn't use the behaviors that you expect from everyone in the house
  2. When you break something, it is no longer available for you to use it.

You don't need to tell her about that second issue--if the damage she did to the iPad makes it truly unusable, just leave it for her to discover on her own. If it might still be usable, but you no longer want her to use it, then you can tell her that throwing the iPad broke it, and so she can not use it anymore. I would even try to honestly sympathize with her about the loss--maybe even tell her about a time you broke something you cared about, and share with her how sad/upset/angry, etc. that made you. Note I said honestly sympathize--you may have to work really hard not to end up in "I told you so" mode here.

I believe that alot of anger and frustration that children feel is related to a sense that they have little control over their lives. Rules made by parents can easily feel arbitrary, even when they are explained, and result in anger. But rules made by physics (when you throw something, gravity will cause it to land, and it may break) are not subject to that type of interpretation. By 7, she knows that if she throws something it is going to fall. And the consequence that arose out of her choice to throw something is a consequence that is in no way arbitrary.

7

TL;DR: Dealing with primary emotions is a powerful coping skill, and your daughter needs better coping skills.

Your problem is bigger than an anger management issue. There may be more going on.

I asked her to put it down as she knows the rules. She exclaims she doesn't and has never heard that rule before, chucks her iPad while sulking, onto the lounge which then bounces off and hits the floor. Let it be known she did this exact same thing 2 nights ago to which I also then told her not to chuck the iPad in anger, it could break.

If she really did know the rule (which I suspect she did), then she also lies to try to get her way.

Anger is a secondary emotion. (NB Some classify it as a primary emotion. Many do not.) It doesn't come out of nowhere; something triggers a primary emotion which turns into anger. I'm not going to try to guess what her primary emotion was, but please bear with me as I give a couple of examples.

You're driving along listening to the music on your radio when someone out of the blue suddenly cuts you off, you have to swerve and hit your brakes. A number of emotions can come in a flash before anger appears: surprise, fear, confusion, feeling unsafe (helpless), disrespected, ignored, unimportant, etc. Then you get angry - and rightly so. Righteous anger is important. But say it was no more than someone cutting in line in a queue. Anger helps us to feel powerful - like we have control. It masks the more uncomfortable feelings we get, like, say, powerless and disrespected.

All this to say, you're daughter needs to be aware of her emotions - the whole range of them - in order to learn to deal constructively rather than destructively with them. To do this, she needs a rich emotional vocabulary, because the first step in dealing with emotions is to be able to name them.

If you've not seen one before, google lists of emotions. Start conversations with your daughter ("What did you feel when... why did you feel that... would you call that sadness, disappointment, or something else?") Also, process your own emotions out loud for her to learn by example. ("Daddy's going to be late for dinner. I feel disappointed because the food won't be as good, and I made it special/I feel helpless when there's nothing I can do to change that/whatever." Then show dealing with those emotions constructively: "Well, we can't control everything, but we can still enjoy our dinner together. I wonder if we have time to read a story together before he gets home... (sorry if these are terrible examples, but I hope you get the picture.)

Dealing with primary emotions is a powerful coping skill, and your daughter needs better coping skills.

The second problem is lying to excuse her behavior. I don't know how you feel about lying, but to me, it's an extremely unhealthy behavior, allowing blame shifting and other irresponsible behaviors. But I think that's a different answer.

What I would do

Make her earn her new iPad with good behavior, specifically identifying more complex emotions and exhibiting better coping skills. Assign a point value to each example and decide ahead of time how many points she needs to get a new iPad, and make it significant. Keep the progress chart where she can see it daily, e.g. on the refrigerator. Don't dock points for bad behavior; just good. Discussions of bad behavior yielding insight into why she behaved the way she did should earn her points, so that there's a reward to do so.

Good luck. This will help her when she hits her teens, too.

Primary and Secondary Emotions
Emotional intelligence
Resilience Guide for Parents & Teachers

5

As a child, I used to have an elliptical magnet. It wasn't useful for anything, except for holding pins or as a toy. In a fit of rage, I can't remember what I was so angry about, I smashed the magnet in front of my parents. I don't remember what my parents said, or did, but I remember my magnet was smashed in four pieces and lost a lot of its appeal as a toy.

I think, in your case, there should be no more ipads for a while. Your kid didn't mean to destroy it, but was angry and couldn't controlled that anger. She should learn a lesson from it. You could get her a new ipad, much later, as a reward for something she achieved by hard work. I also think you should sit down with her a few times over the years to discuss how doing things in anger can lead to irreversible consequences. This is a lesson that presents itself to all of us many times over our lives.

2

This could be a good excuse to remove that screen permanently from your child's life. There's a wealth of scientific research associating screen time with everything from decreased social skills to obesity. And learning that there can be lasting (natural!) consequences for willful destructiveness could be a good and important lesson.

My kids (around that same age) have an iPad that a relative gave them. We dole it out to them infrequently, for special occasions. Perhaps for that reason, they treat it extremely carefully. I'm sure they sense I would be perfectly happy to see it destroyed and not replaced.

If you're not inclined to take that advice, here's what I did when my son got mad and threw away a favorite book that I had given him for his birthday. I rescued it and kept it, and then rewrapped it (the same book) and gave it back to him for Christmas that year (instead of buying him the sequel).

0

If she gets allowance or money for chores or anything like that then perhaps she can "work" extra to earn it back and to start saving up for a replacement iPad or a repair.

Regardless, I want to emphasize that this really could just have been an accident. When I go to bed, every night I THROW my phone onto the bed before heading to the bathroom. This is because the bed is a soft surface and there is no chance of damage to my phone when it lands on such a surface. If this was her line of thinking (tossing it onto the couch/sofa) then it is highly likely that she was trying to put it on a safe/soft spot and didn't expect it to bounce off and hit the floor. Admittedly this is not a WISE way to treat fragile and expensive things and should be discussed/corrected once everyone has calmed down.

0

This sounds pretty normal to me. Note, I do not equate "normal" with "acceptable". One of our roles as parents is to create consequences for the normal but unacceptable behaviors that children display.

It sounds as if you are worried that her behavior is getting worse. That is a possibility, and in any case, dealing with her when she has become a rebellious, hormonal teenager will be even more challenging. What you want to do is start developing ways to correct her behavior (or, even better, to teach her to correct herself) now when she is young.

I'm a big fan of crafting consequences to fit the "crime". She broke her iPad in a fit of rage. Et voila. She has created her own consequences. You can sympathize with her ("I'm sorry you broke your iPad and that you don't have it any more, I know you liked it a lot..")

But in order to get her iPad back, you certainly need a way to be certain she won't do it again. ("It costs too much to buy expensive electronics if people are going to break them" "I'm not, I promise", etc, "Okay, I'd really like for that to happen. How can I help you learn how to express your anger safely? How about this..? Do you think that's a good way to let yourself be angry?") Show her that you are applying those techniques yourself, when you are angry, and be prepared to react calmly and appropriately when she brings it to your attention when you fail. She'll be far more likely to imitate you than to simply do as she is told.

Do you read to her? Maybe you could read a couple of books to her about dealing with anger, and then afterwards discuss together how she might apply what she has learned to both the original incident and to other things that are currently making her angry in her life, or things that might make her angry. Maybe at the dinner table you could each talk about a time that you were angry during the day, and whether you were able to apply your safe anger habits. If you failed, tell a story about what it would have been like if you had handled the situation that way you wanted to.

This will help to teach her to "own" her own anger, and make you a partner in helping her to cope with her own problems. Make sure she understands that it is okay to be angry, just not to do hurtful or destructive things while she is being angry.

Here are a few suggestion for good childrens' books that deal with anger:

When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

When I Feel Angry by Albert Whitman

I'm Mad by Elizabeth Crary (also I'm Furious by the same author)

I'm Not Bad, I'm just Mad by Anna Greenwald

Once you have reached an agreement on how she wants to handle her anger, you might consider telling her that before you can buy another iPad (or any other electronics device that might be seen as a substitute) she has to show you that she can use her "good anger habits" for a period of time, say, two months.

When she has a fit of anger and forgets to apply the solutions that you and she discussed before, don't yell at her, just firmly and calmly bring it up "Let's see, we talked about ways to express your anger. Which one is this? Are you counting to fifteen with your eyes closed? Have you taken ten deep breaths?" Then give her a chance to do things "the right way", and if she does, you move on as if she'd done it right the first time. Praise her for making the effort. Only if she adamantly refuses to make the effort should you "reset the clock" and tell her, regretfully, "Oh no, I'm so sad that you weren't able to apply your good anger habits. I'd like to give you another chance, shall we try again?"

Don't set the bar so high that she can't reach it, but don't lower your expectations too low, and once you make an agreement, stick to it.

One final thing: educate yourself about how to handle your childrens' anger. Here are a couple of good articles:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-gail-gross/dos-and-donts-of-teaching-your-child-to-cope-with-anger_b_3202744.html

http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/discipline/anger-management/helping-kids-handle-anger/

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