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Parenting Question, but need US POV

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I hope no one minds that I'm putting this here.  I saw numerous posts in GD and Childhood Years, but nothing quite spoke to me.


I'm on the fence about how to address my DS's destructive rages.  He's nearly 5, so a lot of it is impulse control and I admit that much of his preferred activity is not necessarily common for kids his age.


The immediate issue is that he JUST got his training wheels off his bike and JUST learned to skateboard within the past month.  YAY!  We bought him a very expensive helmet for the high quality.  Today, he threw it very hard (not the first time) and it broke.  Now it is useless.  :(  The reason for the rage was that he continued to ride too close to me and others, putting us in danger, and actually crashed into me a couple of times.  I took the bike handles to stop him and said we're putting the bike away for now- until he can use it more safely.  This is the point at which he spiraled into violent rage with piercing screams and a threat to kill me.  Again, i understand the age of experimenting and still trying to cope with big feelings.  How can I help guide him away from taking his anger out on his prized possessions?


The other, recurring, situation is his fondness for trying to destroy his musical equipment.  He has a decent small-scale drum kit, and an assortment of electric guitars/amps.  His favorite bands tend to be the ones who smash their gear on stage and in videos. We have talked endlessly about the need to respect his gear, since we no longer have the money to just buy this stuff again.  We explain that they are given gear to smash and that it is easier for them to replace what gets broken. We try to show him examples of musicians who cherish their instruments and treat them gently (snooze, goes DS).  We fully realize that impulse control issues and expensive things are not quite compatible, but he is enormously passionate about his music, and plays for more than an hour every single day.  He is so driven and focused and improves so rapidly with each week!  He doesn't take lessons, but does jam daily with his musician dad- not lessons, just jamming.  We don't want to remove these instruments or have such strong limits that he rarely has access.  However, as a SAHM with a toddler, I cannot actually be in the room when he's playing during the day.  Toddle refuses to keep earphones on, and DS plays LOUD.  :)


So, these are his three main passions:  bike, skateboard, music.


Any ideas how we can help him understand the importance of keeping his stuff in good working order?  It breaks my heart to think of him NOT being able to do these things because of momentary rage or getting lost in a rockstar gear smashing fantasy.


His roughness with stuff is not always in rage.  Sometimes in excitement, sometimes just a destructive whim.  It's somewhat unpredictable, as he sometimes is very mature and careful with his stuff.  


Any thoughts or ideas on how we can keep letting him follow his bliss without permanently damaging his stuff?  We've already constructed a fake guitar from wood just for him to smash.  It was designed to break away cleanly, and reconstruct pretty easily, but he took the destruction to a new level and literally shredded that thing.  He just has this very real need for smashing and crashing and bashing and breaking and learning about what it takes to destroy.  I don't want to just shove that part of him away somehow, and no gentle discipline solutions really seem to touch this level of chaos.


Thanks in advance, folks!  :)

post #2 of 6

well I think its pretty normal for a 5 year old boy to want to smash and destroy, its kind of what they do IME especially when they are quite free range and curious. 


To be totally honest-and this is based on having had a 5 year old boy-I think expecting him to control his desire to smash things might be optimistic. At this age, I think they often do a great job of seeming very rational and nodding away but they just don't really get it. I've never actually had a kid who smashed things but my son was terrible at this age for dismantling stuff and my youngest, now 5, is really awful for incorporating stuff into games and then forgetting where she put it. Of course we explain why we need the credit card to stay put but really, at this age, we also have to be aware that she will hide stuff and we have to change the environment so she doesn't come across stuff we really don't want lost. 


I have to say, if you can't afford to replace the equipment, I would just put it away for a year, or else let him use it but be very alert for warning signs. Sorry-I know you probably want strategies but I don't think there are any. I don't really think a 5 year old is likely to be capable of that much impulse control, not IME anyway. The only thing I can think of is to get him alternative stuff that you don't mind getting broken.


I'd give it a year or two, modelling and explaining to him all the while, and then he probably will get it.


FWIW my kids have played instruments and do play instruments, including at age 5, and the deal was always that they had to be careful with them or they went away. That was always the condition of using them, of lessons, of anything because we just couldn't be replacing stuff. It was never a problem: they knew if the instruments were broken, that was it, so they were careful. But if they hadn't been careful, that would have been fine, we'd have just put them away for a year and tried again.


Re the helmet and bike. Well, eek. If the reality of the situation is that if he cannot ride his bike safely without either hurting others (or making them afraid he will), or himself (now he doesn't have a helmet), I am afraid I'd have to say no riding. Its really hard. I've always said to my kids though that to be able to do stuff like riding bikes, skateboards is not just about whether you can physically do it but also about whether you are mature enough to put up with wearing a helmet (lets face it, who likes wearing a helmet?), can be considerate of others, etc etc. And if they can't do that then the bike or whatever does have to go away, in this case til you can afford a new helmet, which I guess might be a while. Its hard though. All I can say is when they get older and more rational it gets a lot easier. 


All I can say is that regarding his interests, there is plenty of time there for him to enjoy them and in the long run, a period of time now sorting out the destructiveness might pay greater dividends.


Can I just ask, just knowing several adult musicians with tinnitus, is he wearing earplugs when playing the drums loudlly? That would be a real issue for me.

Edited by Fillyjonk - 5/29/13 at 2:44pm
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Yes, he always wears noise reduction earphones. No arguments about wearing helmets either. He's generally mature and responsible beyond his years in these areas... But sometimes he just can't hold back that inner spaz. wink1.gif. Rightfully so!
post #4 of 6

I think then, if he is unpredictably smashing expensive stuff, it probably comes down to either being willing to replace the equipment or saying no to using it. It sounds like you've tried explaining and that that isn't working, like I say I think it sounds as though he's not ready cognitively which is utterly normal.


FWIW I think the issue with 5 year olds often is that impulse control, almost like they lose themselves. My oldest was like this too-very responsible, very helpful...until he wasn't.


Good luck, it sounds tricky. 

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the wisdom and perspective. I definitely feel like it's inappropriate for us to expect him to manage such responsibility. We'll just have to keep the supervision on when using this stuff and stop him before he can damage anything. Cheers, mama.
post #6 of 6

When DS was about 3 or 4 I bought a lamp, the tall kind that stands on the floor. For some reason DS could not walk past that thing without pushing it over. I'm happy to report we still have the lamp and he ignores it now. ;-)


It's difficult for kids who find it hard to control their emotions. DS has broken countless things, from a friend's brand new big screen TV (he threw a water bottle into it in a fit of anger) to a plate glass window (threw a skateboard into it), you name it. He's gotten way, way better now that he is older (he has autism so it is particularly hard for him to control his emotions) and nothing expensive or important has broken for years. 


We basically had to make the decision to either a) be willing to accept that such-and-such may get broken and we'll have to replace it or b) someone has to be with him when he is using or nearby said object or c) object gets put away until he is older. There is really nothing you can do that is foolproof, and even if he got to control 90% of his reactions it is that one time that can undo it all. 


(by the way, now that he is older and has an allowance he understands that he will need to pay for broken items so long as the cost is within reasonable limits for his "income"; and this was something he came up with and that we agreed upon together, btw)

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