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Four year old breaking things

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#1 Hands Up

Posted 02 December 2019 - 07:55 PM

He’s always done it, by being too rough with his toys. We don’t replace stuff he breaks. He knows this and doesn’t even ask anymore. It’s like he wants to see how much he can push something before it breaks. It’s almost always his stuff he breaks but today he broke an expensive tape measure of DH’s.

Other than this he’s pretty good. I mean he’s a cheeky and strong willed four year old but there is no other concerning behaviour. He’s extremely bright, goes to a preschool who have said he behaves well there (and never breaks things).

We are at a bit of a loss. We don’t replace broken toys so this seems like a logical repercussion. He gets over this quite quickly each time. When he broke DH’s tape today he got put in a time out. After the initial tantrum he sang to himself and was perfectly happy.

Anyone else experienced this?

#2 JBH

Posted 02 December 2019 - 08:31 PM

I don’t know if it’s any consolation, but my 12 year old who was like that turns out to have a very scientific mind, and it became clear he was testing the limits of things. He now only breaks things he has identified as suitable for breaking, and he also rather enjoys fixing.

#3 BadCat

Posted 02 December 2019 - 08:32 PM


My child was exactly the same.

They would also poke people with increasing pressure to see how much it would take before it hurt.  It was super annoying. As far as I can tell it was just them trying to figure stuff out.  They grew out it, mostly, some time in their teens.

#4 PooksLikeChristmas

Posted 02 December 2019 - 08:51 PM

I get that a lot from both kids. I try to redirect some of that behaviour. My kids have things they have permission to be rough with. We have a crash mat and various other active toys inside, and an area outside under cover where they can make mess and I give them things to destroy/ reimagine like packaging, old clothes, old tech, bits and bobs. Sometimes we even buy things from the op shop to do weird things to. Water play is also really good for this. I ask them to do a risk assessment and ask prompting questions like “what would happen if..?” “I notice it has glass, I wonder how we can make this Safer to play with?”. They have gotten reasonably good at figuring a lot of it out themselves. Now we have a puppy and they’re really good at identifying risks for him (and risks from him to their things). If they destroy things without permission and a chat first, I will remove items from them that I’m afraid they might also be irresponsible with, and I’ll place them in their rooms to calm down from their destructive mood and keep the rest of the house safe.

#5 MessyJ

Posted 02 December 2019 - 09:41 PM

My 4 year old is delighted with breaking things at the moment - we set up an area outside with rocks and hammers on the concrete where he is allowed to break things, but ONLY in this place and ONLY things we both agree to. He loves to see inside toys (mostly little cars) and see how many parts he can disassemble. We've had discussions about when it is/isn't ok to break things and he does get a negative consequence if he (purposefully) breaks things he has not been told he can.

At other times if he's being rough in general we find an appropriate place (outside) so he doesn't accidentally break stuff in the house.

He's pretty good with a screwdriver too so occasionally if we have an old bit of technology we encourage him take it apart (less destructive than just smashing it!) and hopefully directing him to discover more about the workings of it in a more productive way! Though I think at the moment most of his delight is from the actual smashing process! lol

#6 Hands Up

Posted 04 December 2019 - 07:21 PM

Thanks all. Glad to know we’re not alone!

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