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When we are having lunch or dinner, my 2.5-year-old son likes to break or throw things from the table. He throws sugar pots, cups, plates, etc. Almost everything that can be broken, he will throw it.

I remember how, just a year ago, we wanted to wash our living room's carpets. We started to move furnitures, tables, armchairs etc. And there was a mess in our living room, but my son liked it too much, he even was very happy. Then we realized that he likes a mess or doing it. When he plays his toys he does a mess in a room, he likes to break toys or rip them more than play with them. I don't remember when it started.

He is very smart. He understands everything, i.e. I don't need to speak with him like with a baby. He already knows what is wrong and what is right, but in the matter of breaking things speaking with him is not helping.

I tried even to show my anger by raising my voice a bit or punishing him somehow (by saying if you break things I will not give you your toys anymore or things like that). And he says: "Daddy apologize I won't do it anymore", but keeps doing it.

When I talk with my peers they saying that parents (especially fathers) should be tough with sons. They should be afraid of their fathers, otherwise it would be very hard to control them when they grow up. Even some people say that I should beat him when he misbehaves in such a way. I can't agree with that, because my son is too young. And I think punishing is not a good idea, no matter the age of our child. I think this habit should be just replaced with something else, and I just don't know how for now.

He is always active, especially in evening in time when I am back home from my job. I think he just doesn't know how to control his energy. I think I really should direct this energy to some other thing, otherwise I am afraid it can be turned into something more, that can really cause some problems.

And here I will need an advice, maybe someone has faced such a problem or knows how to act in situations like this.

  • Search on plates that stick to table. One is Silicone Baby. – paparazzo Nov 3 '17 at 15:23
  • Too short for an answer - yes. Boys like to break things. Provide a time and place and supplies for breaking stuff, and enforce the when and where. For the short term invest in Tupperware. – pojo-guy Nov 5 '17 at 0:32
  • "This is why we can't have nice things". The "terrible twos" aren't a myth. (Well, it's a myth that they end at age 3...). None of this sounds abnormal to me, a father of three boys with the youngest just entering that phase. – user28128 Dec 8 '17 at 4:34
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I'd say this is relatively normal.

My first course of action would be to move anything out of reach that he could break. Begin using dishes for him that don't break, like plastic plates and cups. Don't let him near sugar pots, glass bowls, tea cups, etc.

Secondly, identify why he is throwing it. Is he encouraged by someone when you don't see it. Perhaps in different company, when he throws something people laugh. If that's the case, you have to talk to him and those people to ensure and show him that throwing things is not funny and it's dangerous. Is he frustrated? If he angry when he throws something? If so, identify why he is angry and show him a better way to vent his frustration like using his words and expressing why he is frustrated.

In my opinion, don't heed the words of your peers. Your children living in fear of you and being motivated by that alone to behave is thin ice and eventually it will break. Instead, show him your frustrated. Explain to him as best you can why it's not O.K. to break things, especially things that can shatter and people may step on and get hurt.

Punishment isn't a bad thing. But the punishment must fit the crime. Don't take away toys unless you are afraid he might throw his toys.

The best piece of advice is to be consistent. In your mind, throwing and breaking things is never good, therefore it should never be good. Don't let it go when it happens and always be consistent in whatever method you use to instruct him that it's wrong.

  • He does it only he is home. Is he frustrated? No, before doing it he smiles (Like saying I am going to do some bad things). – Tirr Ns Nov 3 '17 at 5:50
  • When I explain him, he always apologize. When he does it he laughs loud (says Hahahaha) and apologizes after it immediately. Sometimes when I am in good mood I just smile. It is really hard not to smile. – Tirr Ns Nov 3 '17 at 6:00
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    @TirrNs I understand it's really hard not to smile and giggle because, yes, it is funny. But you smiling and ignoring it is just an indicator to him that this time it may be OK to do it. Like I stated, be consistent in your approach. Children are very now creatures. The past and the future have little bearing on their judgement. Only by consistency will little issues like this subside. – SomeShinyMonica Nov 3 '17 at 6:36
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    @TirrNs consistent doesn’t mean strict. It means to always take the same approach in a certain situation. If you say no throwing and breaking things or the punishment will be timeout, then every single time he throws something, then the punishment should always be timeout and you should always do something about it even on the days you don’t feel like it or because you’re in a good mood. If it’s bad behavior, then it’s always bad. The same goes for good behavior. It should be rewarded just the same as bad behavior is punished. – SomeShinyMonica Nov 3 '17 at 7:27
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    +1 for moving breakable objects out of reach. I think we had a 2 foot buffer zone around my oldest (meaning no glass, no lidless cups, no knives) until at least age 2, maybe longer. He had to show he was trustworthy with each object (aka, explain to us the rules for that object) before being allowed to handle it. He still doesn't get glass cups, but because it's easy to drop them by accident, not because of willful destructive behavior. – MAA Nov 3 '17 at 13:11
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My son, same age, does some of this as well, and my mother has stories about me being the same. I think the most important element here is that even though a child this age understands things and can communicate, he doesn't have full capabilities to control his own behaviour. He is not trying to be bad or cause trouble.

Breaking or throwing things is exciting, it is stimulating, and kids enjoy excitement. Even as adults we all likely have found ourselves in a situation where we acted on an impulse even though we knew better, and we have had our entire lives to learn to control our actions.

Cut your little guy some slack, help him try to learn to identify, manage and control his urges, and be ready for it to take time for him to master this.

For example, you can develop a strategy for something to do when he feels the urge to throw or break something. Have certain toys or items that he is allowed to throw, and explain that if he wants to throw something it should be those appropriate items. Or try a strategy of some other exciting action, instead of throwing something, why not clap your hands or jump up and down, or sing a special song.

An example we use with our child is when he cannot get his way, he might begin to cry or tantrum when denied candy or a toy or when he's told it's time for bed. When this happens, we ask him "are you frustrated?" And we have a little "frustration" routine, we say "What do you do when you are frustrated"?? "STOMP YOUR FEET. Say "I'm Frustrated!". Take a Deeeep breath. Now do something else."

If you think about the long term, this skill of recognising and managing his urges will serve him very well throughout life. As we grow up our urges become more problematic, maybe we want to hurt someone who has made us angry, or take something which isn't ours. There is no better time to start learning to control our urges.

I do not agree in any way that this is the right age to instill any fear of you in your child. He is too young and still needs to feel completely safe and loved by his parents. I do believe at some point a foot must be put down, but this should be done in a logical, firm but gentle manner. Don't let your own reactions arise from anger.

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    This. The child is probably sincere when he apologizes, and has every intention of never throwing anything again, but at 2.5 years old, he can't control his impulses. He has an impulse to throw something, and even if he knows it's wrong, he is unable to do anything else. My son does similar things, and is often remorseful immediately afterward. He realizes he's done something wrong, but was unable to stop himself from doing it. In this case, there's no benefit to punishment; just reinforce the rules, and avoid situations where this can happen. – GentlePurpleRain Nov 7 '17 at 20:55
  • @GentlePurpleRain You are absolutely right. +1 for your comment – Tirr Ns Nov 8 '17 at 4:37
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You don't need to be intimidating to stop this, but you should consistently stop it.

Sit with him while he eats and watch him. With a little practice I would expect you can forestall his attempts. I find timely warnings to be effective at disrupting activity known to be against the rules, but if it isn't physically stopping the throwing motion should be possible if you are ready for it.

I am more wary of using too much force than not reacting fast enough, but I am enough quicker than the toddlers I've had issue with that I have been able to achieve consistency with gentle contact. Most toddlers telegraph their actions so watching closely may be a big part of that advantage.

If that isn't practical or effective or if it turns into a game I would remove anything movable from reach and offer him a bite at a time. Two and a half isn't too old to be spoon fed if nothing else works, especially if he is practicing the motor skills in some other way.

While I would not make a big deal about "eating the baby way" or lost trust, I would mention the change is to prevent the unacceptable behavior. Perhaps even solicit suggestions about how else we can deal with it, but unless he's exceptionally mature he's not likely to understand how that works and asking for advice you aren't going to follow causes frustration.

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