Well we’ve had a very destructive week, I’m afraid.  Birdy has been breaking things.  She knows she’s not allowed to touch the DVD player, but this week she broke two of her favourite DVD’s, trying to get them out of the DVD player.  One was a brand new Dorothy the Dinosaur DVD (Sorry Charlie) and the other one was an autographed Colin Buchanan one (Sorry Al).  They’re both completely un-useable. Then on Tuesday, Birdy snapped her beautiful sparkly purple sunglasses in half. (Sorry Michelle).  Maybe it’s time to move the crystal wine glasses out of the display cabinet, just in case.

Kids will always break things – that’s inevitable – whether it’s just because they’re curious, they’re uncoordinated or they lack discernment.  Kids can’t always distinguish between what can and can’t be fixed again or between what is and isn’t breakable.  So it seems a bit mean to punish them for breaking things if it’s a genuine accident.  In this case, I did punish her for breaking the DVD’s because she knows she’s not supposed to touch the DVD player.  So our punishment was to ban her from television entirely for two days.  (Two days doesn’t sound like much, but to a toddler, it’s a long time.)  With the sunglasses, I felt more unsure, because it probably was an accident… (I break a pair of sunnies every second week myself!) But I decided to punish her lightly as a way of telling her that I want her to be more careful with her things.  After all, she’s two-and-a-half, not a baby, practically old enough to get a job (RANT, RANT, RANT)!

The question I’m still wrestling with is whether or not I should replace what she’s broken.  I’m really torn about that.  On the one hand, I want her to learn that when you break something, you have to go without it.  But on the other hand, each of those things was a gift that a friend or family member chose with love.  And it seems unfair to the gift-giver that Birdy has broken them so soon.  I think I might replace them eventually, but not before she has time to miss them a little.  At this stage she’s only broken her own things, not other peoples’ stuff.  And at least she can’t drive yet.  Thank Heaven for small mercies, right?

What is the worst thing your kids have ever broken or that you broke as a child? (I’m thinking about a story involving my sister, my grandmother and a 400-year-old grandfather clock, but it’s not my story to tell…)  Do you think children should be punished when they accidently break something through carelessness or bad judgement?  Is it a good idea to replace things that your kids have broken, or should they learn to go without as a natural consequence of their actions?

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