Natural Consequence for breaking family tambourine? - Mothering Forums
 
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#1 of 9 Old 01-21-2007, 11:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all,

Long story short: my DS (3.5) deliberately broke a family tambourine that we all play with (we have family jam sessions). Lately, this tambourine has become associated with his baby sister, b/c she likes to play with it during these sessions. Today, he stepped on it and it broke.

Both DH and I have lots of sentimental attachment to the tambourine (we got it as a wedding gift) and so we told DS that it made us sad, we felt really disappointed, etc. We also empathized with jealousy of his sister and tried to offer other ways to express it.

In general, we have never mandated "I'm sorry" -- since true empathy doesn't come until later and we didn't want to create artificiality around such a phrase.

So it was beautiful and mind-blowing to watch DS absorb our sadness and say in a voice that felt very real, "I'm sorry I broke the tambourine."

So ... would you leave it at that? I had told him (before his apology) that b/c he broke the tambourine, we'd donate money from his next toy to a new tambourine that he and I would go buy. But frankly, we don't have that kind of money and I'm wondering if his sorry is sufficient, since it wasn't an artificial, "get out of trouble quick" kind of apology.

What do you think?

Becca
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#2 of 9 Old 01-21-2007, 11:50 PM
 
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CAn you have the tambourine reskinned? You can always do this with drums and it is pretty similar.

It sounds like he cares, and you shouldn't try to punish him with the weight of your loss because he can't understand that it has more imact upon you than him as a special gift.

Did he mean to step on it only, or to actually break it? He definitely stepped on it on purpose, but might not have meant to cause permanent damage. It may not have occured to him that the tambourine would be "gone" but he knows now.

I don't know if you should even worry about having him pay in some way for the new one. That sounds like more of an older child's logical consequence, when there is more long-sightedness and a sense of the value of money. You've done fine.

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#3 of 9 Old 01-22-2007, 01:00 AM
 
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Well, the natural consequence is that the family doesn't have a tambourine anymore.

The LOGICAL consequence might be to take money that you were going to use for a toy and buy a tambourine with it (or have it reskinned), but at age 3, he's probably not really able to link the two (or only minimally).

He's acknowledged and apologized -- what else do you want? (Not intended in a confrontational way, but is there anything else you want to do? want him to learn?)

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#4 of 9 Old 01-22-2007, 06:20 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Well, the natural consequence is that the family doesn't have a tambourine anymore.
True, but how much does her DS really care about that? It sounds like he broke it because his sister enjoyed playing it and he was jealous of her. On this basis, the fact that there is no more tambourine for his sister to play with should be a positive natural consequence from his point of view, as he clearly did not like the fact that his sister enjoyed using it.

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I had told him (before his apology) that b/c he broke the tambourine, we'd donate money from his next toy to a new tambourine that he and I would go buy.
I think this is not a bad logical consequence IF there was a toy that he was supposed to be getting soon (birthday, for ex). If he was not supposed to be getting a toy soon, I don't see much point.

But the next time you have a family jam session, your son should be the one who plays the (broken) tambourine.

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#5 of 9 Old 01-22-2007, 07:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Elijah's Mom View Post
So it was beautiful and mind-blowing to watch DS absorb our sadness and say in a voice that felt very real, "I'm sorry I broke the tambourine.
What would concequence add to that?..

I'd just leave it at that and be impressed with my 3.5 yo who was able to genuinely feel remorse. I'd also feel sorry for him, for he mis-estimated his action or could not control his impulse (completely normal for a child his age)

Oh and to you guys. I am sorry about your tambourine
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#6 of 9 Old 01-22-2007, 09:01 AM
 
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Maybe you and he could go to some music store and buy his sister a little cheap kids tambourine as a present. I know you want a nice family tambourine, but this could be something just for her since she was the one who liked playing it so much. Not taking a future present from him, but just getting a present for his sister.

Another alternative, you all could have an art project and make some shakers for her and the whole family (my dd loved shakers when she was little). You could put some beans or metal bearings inside a pill bottle or something, then decorate the outsides with paint or glitter, whatever. That way he could try to make it up to his sister for breaking her favorite shared instrument, but it wouldn't be punishment. It would be a fun project with everyone working towards the goal of solving the problem. The home made shakers could easily become treasured family musical instruments.
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#7 of 9 Old 01-22-2007, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, all. I like Flymom's idea of having DS make another musical instrument ... shakers, or something. I'll try to do that. But at this point, following a lot of the comments made here -- we've decided to really emphasize his apology and go with that. That is what our main goal is.

THANKS!

Becca
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#8 of 9 Old 01-22-2007, 10:02 AM
 
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I just wanted to say I'm really sorry your treasured tamborine got broken. Jealous toddlers are a thing to behold. You must have both felt really bad. That stinks.
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#9 of 9 Old 01-22-2007, 11:03 AM
 
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But the next time you have a family jam session, your son should be the one who plays the (broken) tambourine.
If it were either one of my children, this strategy would break their hearts, and ruin family jam sessions in their minds forever. Maybe this would be okay for a less sensitive child, but I know it would be a mistake in my family.

I would let it go. Put the broken tambourine into a box and save it as a memory. If you think it would help HIS sense of dignity and esteem to make a new instrument, then do so. Otherwise, move on. He acted on impulse and then was genuinely remorseful. Little boy spirits are more important than tambourines.
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