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#1 of 17 Old 05-09-2002, 08:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Here is a list of things I have and have not let dd destroy (with and without regrets) in her quest for knowledge about this great new world she finds herself in.

Allowed to destroy:

Her flashcards
Any food on her tray
Any clothes she is wearing (I figure it's my job to get them off in time if she's gonna be messy)
Any toy unable to withstand her play
Several plants on the patio as she helped water them
Several of my clothes which I foolishly wore when she was doing something messy
Magazines, etc




Not allowed to destroy:

Anything with crayons (I have a hard time with this one-my brother and I learned to write our names on the walls of our rooms) "Crayons are for paper only"

Anything with paint (same deal)

Her books ( we repair the tears and try to distract her)

Our books

The dogs and cats


Anyone have similar struggles with what to allow theri children to experiment with to the point of destruction?
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#2 of 17 Old 05-09-2002, 09:40 PM
 
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I struggle with this - when to say no, when to look away, when to stand back and watch, when to get down on the floor and join in.

My 'not allowed' list looks a lot like yours - except we also don't allow the destruction of house plants/vegetable gardens. There is plenty they *can* pick in the yard without pulling up our seedlings!

I remember cringing while toddler ds #2 unrolled half a roll of paper towels, scattered coffee filters all over the kitchen floor, emptied a tissue box or ripped apart napkins at the kitchen table. Wasting paper products really bothers me, so I keep explorations like these few and far between (of course it is often still usuable.)

My ds is now 2 1/2 and I am having a harder time letting him destroy. I guess I want him to move towards appropriate use of all things. He is a bit young for this, I know.

He still plays with his food often, and I can only stand it for a couple of minutes and then I ask him not to/ excuse him. I guess it is just the mess that bothers me. I sometimes feel guilty - who am I to comment on his eating habits? It is his food, not mine.

The other things I have a hard time letting him explore are household objects like umbrellas, kitchen tools, parts of furniture, etc. - nothing overtly harmful. These things can be broken easily, and I am reluctant to allow him to handle them for long.

I think it is great to allow children to experiment with as much as possible. When I start to interfere in my children's activities, I try to stop and ask myself -
Is this truly harmful to anyone/anything?
Does this limit *really* need to be imposed?
What does my comment/action seem like from his perspective?
Am I respecting and honoring this child and his work?

Always striving for balance...
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#3 of 17 Old 05-10-2002, 12:00 AM
 
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I never knowingly let my kids destory anything, though I did consider some paper products as disposable and therefore OK to playwith (it is great fun for a small child to build pyrmids with Dixie cups Coffee filters make GREAT hats).

I bought a lot of their clothes second hand and never worried about them, and we only use washable art supplies.

When my kids were smaller, I took things away from them that I felt were not appropriate and told my child that it wasn't a "good" toy. I then gave them something they could play with and told them it was a "good" toy. I tried to make it something as similar as possible, for example I once replaced a sharp knife with a spoon, it was still a piece of cutlery, just not one that send them to the ER.
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#4 of 17 Old 05-10-2002, 10:05 AM
 
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I wonder too about how much I should teach them to take care of thier toys or just let them mess. Our toys almost all look beat up, the trucks have all been buried in dirt, the trains are all flaking paint (percy looks especilly bad I think he went in the bathtub!) and so on. None of our toys are going to make it to a garage sale.
Do you just let them destroy thier toys or when do you teach them to take care of them?
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#5 of 17 Old 05-10-2002, 01:17 PM
 
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I don't think it's ever too early to start teaching respect. Respect for oneself, for people's bodies (physically hurting someone is not right, for example), for people's feelings, for property belonging to oneself or others, etc.

I know that it takes awhile before they truly understand it, but statements can be made while redirecting and those statements will finally be understood in time. Modeling respect is extremely important, too.

That doesn't mean that you have to keep them from exploring and learning from their environment.

It is setting limits but in a way that encourages a universally accepted value.
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#6 of 17 Old 05-10-2002, 06:19 PM
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Hey LEmom--

I have a garden, as well, and I will always remember the day ds #2 and #3 , ages 5 and 7 at the time, decided that the lily buds were hand granades, and the stems pins. They went through the garden and stripped EVERY bud (I had hundreds). This was a clear violation of my space, it took premeditation (they had their bikes taken away).

Yesterday, my three year old tried to pick a forget-me-not and accidentally uprooted it. This was not premeditated, and he's allowed the forget-me-nots, so he was not in trouble. He brought it to me and said "mama, your gonna have to replace this plant." Good boy, thinks like a gardener.

Dot.mom, hope that kind of shows where I'm coming from on the whole destruction issue. Premeditation kind of makes a difference to me.

DeAnna
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#7 of 17 Old 05-10-2002, 06:35 PM
 
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We have indoor toys and outdoor toys. Any toy that would sustain serious damage if wet or covered in dirt does not go outdoors. So we have a lot of outdoor toys. My aunt got a plastic kitchen complete with dishes and all that at a tag sale, and it's an outdoor toy, for making mud pies. I periodically hose it down outside when you can't recognize it. It never comes inside. When the kids are outside, I expect them to dig in the dirt and be able to bang things around. I just hose them off too! in the shower. I also have "play clothes" for them that are usually from tag sales. I don't care how stained they get, I just throw them in the wash after they've been outside in them and I figure, they are clean enough, they don't need to be stain-free.

For the bathtub, I bought funnels and plastic measuring cups, and other cheap pour-and-dump kind of things. I don't let them take non-bathtub toys in the tub because they either get wrecked or moldy--blech! I had to throw away a ton of stuff once b/c of mold.

I let my kids make reasonable messes indoors. I don't care if the (washable) paint gets all over the table or floor while they're painting. I just wipe it all up afterward. However, they cannot wantonly smear paint on, say, the walls. Also, any household item that they won't break or that won't hurt them is fine with me, as long as they help put it back afterwards.

I expect kids to make somewhat of a mess much of the time, but I don't allow ripping up of plants or books just for the fun of it, or smashing/banging of toys indoors. But, I sometimes let my baby shred up a length of toilet paper. She just loves tearing to bits.

I seem to be a lot freer about messes than a lot of my friends, but I still don't like nice things to get ruined. So I just figure out where I have to draw the line with any given activity in order to allow for some mess.
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#8 of 17 Old 05-10-2002, 10:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by LEmama
My 'not allowed' list looks a lot like yours - except we also don't allow the destruction of house plants/vegetable gardens. There is plenty they *can* pick in the yard without pulling up our seedlings!


I think it is great to allow children to experiment with as much as possible. When I start to interfere in my children's activities, I try to stop and ask myself -
Is this truly harmful to anyone/anything?
Does this limit *really* need to be imposed?
What does my comment/action seem like from his perspective?
Am I respecting and honoring this child and his work?


Always striving for balance...
:

I really like these questions and the perspective they bring...



Hmmmm I hand't considered what to do if dd actually tried to uproot some of my intentional plantings. I guess as her tender ministerings with the hose and water can have proven so disasterous I had better start to think in that direction....

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#9 of 17 Old 05-10-2002, 10:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mallory
Do you just let them destroy thier toys or when do you teach them to take care of them?
I let dd destroy anything that looks tough enough to take her on. We do let her play with some more expensive type toys which are really not age appropriate yet, so we get them out and play with them with her so they'll survive until she is old enough to get more use out of them.
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#10 of 17 Old 05-10-2002, 10:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by dfoy
I don't think it's ever too early to start teaching respect. Respect for oneself, for people's bodies (physically hurting someone is not right, for example), for people's feelings, for property belonging to oneself or others, etc.

And therein lies the problem. When does repect for objects outweigh respect for our children exploring these objects to the extent of their abilities? I don't claim to have the answer.
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#11 of 17 Old 05-10-2002, 10:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by DeAnna Lynn Britt
.

Dot.mom, hope that kind of shows where I'm coming from on the whole destruction issue. Premeditation kind of makes a difference to me.

DeAnna
yeah... dd is only 19 months so the whole premeditation thing doesn;t come into the picture yet...she's just using her body to find out what does what....
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#12 of 17 Old 05-11-2002, 02:00 AM
 
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And therein lies the problem. When does repect for objects outweigh respect for our children exploring these objects to the extent of their abilities? I don't claim to have the answer.
I don't have the answer either, but I do have some thoughts.

I've been thinking that learning to respect other people's objects is a part of learning to repect other people. My children are welcome to explore and destory, but not when it is an item that belongs to another person.

My mother was really good at teaching this to us as kids, and now she has perfected the method in teaching her grandkids. She's not a big believer in baby-proofing, but she provides key child-friendly toys and items in each area of her house, plus plenty of supervision when kids want to hold, touch, or otherwise explore delicate items in her home (her house is full of them). She works hard to impart gentleness and awe. For instance, if my newphew wants to hold a glass figure my mother regards with a great deal of sentimental value, she will take it down slowly and delicately, exclaiming with a quiet voice and full of awe, "My friend Lisa gave this to me. Isn't it beautiful? Would you like to hold it in your hands? Here, be very careful. It would easily break if we weren't gentle." Kids usually model their attitudes and behavior after hers, but of course each child has a different personality for which the approach has to be adjusted. She does this with flowers in her garden (although she does allow for picking of fully grown flowers, if done gently and respectfully), with books, etc. Now I find myself modeling my approach after my mom's approach.

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#13 of 17 Old 05-11-2002, 11:11 AM
 
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Sierra - What you put into a great example is exactly what I meant.

I never meant to imply that objects are more important than people, nor should they be, but rather that sometimes objects are important to people and their feelings and I believe it is my duty as a parent to teach this type of respect to my children.

I am a teacher and have taught at many grade levels as well as having been a principal, pre-k through 12. From my experience I have found that one of the major problems with our public schools is the lack of respect. Lack of respect for children & their needs at different developmental levels, children's lack of respect for other children, children's lack of repect for teachers, as well as lack of respect for property, whether it be other children's property, teacher's property or the school's.

I do let my 9 mo old explore her world. Sometimes this means that she ruins what she is exploring (magazine, etc.). But there are things that are off limits. Her older sister's (17 yo) homework and school books, the computer, sheet music belonging to dd or dh, books. Not everything is a toy. And I think it is OK not to let her destroy those things by modeling and making statement's similar to what Sierra's mother tells her grandchildren, then redirecting the child.

I have a huge thing about kindness and respect. I think we see far too little of it. I hope that I can instill these 2 values into my children.
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#14 of 17 Old 05-11-2002, 11:19 AM
 
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Thanks for sharing, Sierra. Your mom sounds so cool!

I don't have the answers either. I just try to be fair and encouraging to all in our family. I do want my children to respect objects and living things. I admit - I am not always consistent on my approach to exploration vs. destruction. I try to give freedom, *and* instill respect... This is a great topic, dot.mom!

On destroying toys - I usually tell my children (2 1/2 & 6 3/4) what I think will happen if they misuse a toy, and them let them decide what to do. "If you bring the wooden train into the tub, the paint will eventually peel off", "If you pull & twist the dolls head, it may fall off and not fit back on" - you get the idea. Certain toys get more protection - if they belong to one child or are meaningful in some way.

On the garden - As I said, there are plenty of places to dig and green to pick in our little yard. At 2 1/2, my younger ds understands which areas are off limits. We just tell him "Vegetables/flowers are growing there - please don't touch" We have sticks or little wire arch borders to help him determine where seeds are planted. His involement in the planting, care, and harvesting of the gardens surely helps his ever-growing respect for them. We do lose some seedings to play or over-zealous care - but we don't sweat it.

On premeditation - This factor has not come in to play yet with my younger son. He may intentionally detroy something, but it is still just 'play.'

When my older son was about 5 1/2 he intentionally detroyed a lift the flap book, and some dinosaur bath toys within two weeks. On both occassions, I found him sitting in his room, quietly tearing away. I was shocked - since both he and his little brother liked the objects. Was he trying to tell me something? Was he just enjoying the ability to effect a change in the object? I don't know. There were imposed consequences to this destruction, though (he had to help repair the book and was not allowed to play with the *new* set of dino bath toys I brought down from the attic for one month)

I now leave things out for him to destroy as he wishes - usually cardboard boxes that he likes to tear and cut apart in the yard. I think it must feel good - it provides an outlet for all his energy. Of course, he has to help clean it up!

Thanks for all your thoughts, mamas. Can't wait to read some more responses.
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#15 of 17 Old 05-11-2002, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I like this idea of teaching respect for others' belongings as an extention of teaching respect for their feelings. I guess this is where I will go with dd when she does eventually decide to defoliate my plants instead of killing them love.

I am also not consistent either, for instance I will let her rip up old magazines (I think she is trying to make puzzles b/c she will lie the pieces out on the floor and rearrange them and admire her works), but new magazines are off limits until I have read them, an impossible concept for a 1 year old. I wonder sometimes at this age if it would be easier on her if I made more understandable rules (like no ripping magazines), but then we both would miss her homemade "puzzles". I tell myself that I am preparing her for life's inconsistencies when she is upset she can't rip up a specific magazine (I always giver her one she *can*, but then her heart is set on the other), but I'm not sure if this is true. I have thought of keeping forbidden magazines out of sight, but then we will have a public problem in waiting rooms, etc.

I guess it's always the gray areas that keep us guessing
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#16 of 17 Old 05-11-2002, 02:15 PM
 
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Dot.mom, we just had the magazine thing happen yesterday. DS (13 months) was tearing up an old one having a grand old time, but then decided he wanted my new Mothering issue I just got to start reading. That one was in my hands, so it was easy to tell him he couldn't have it. But it made me wonder if I just should put all magazines away until he can understand which ones are ok. Of course by that time he'll be too old to care about ripping up magazines, I guess.
We were on vacation, staying at a condo with no cabinet door locks, and he opened up the liquor cabinet as soon as we got there. On one side were glass bottles, on the other side plastic cups. He went straight for the bottles, I got down there with him and said "Don't play with the glass, play with the cups" and showed him what he could play with. He played all week with those cups and never touched the bottles again. Was that just luck?
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#17 of 17 Old 05-11-2002, 10:24 PM
 
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saraha, i don't think that's luck. i think it's temperment. my dd would never leave the bottles alone, but she has a few little friends who would. just different temperments and personalities, IMO.
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