Mothering Forum banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
158 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 5.5 yo ds tends to not play with his own toys in his room & treats it more like a museum. This would not bother me, but I'm finding that instead of playing with things of his interest he instead plays w/ his 3 yo sisters things roughly & annoys her & breaks her things on occasion. He has a huge amount of "boy" energy and I am not understanding why he doesn't play with things of interest to him, like his new pirate ship, etc.

Any thoughts of how to encourage him to actually *play* with his toys rather than keep them up for display? This also becomes a problem when we have friends over...as he doesn't let them play with his things either. And it is a huge meltdown when things are touched or moved, etc by anyone or the cat.

Is this a developmental change? I am trying to find new challenging interests for him - but he is one to always find something to entertain his mind. He still seems to enjoy the toys he has but only wants to play them w/ his Dad and even then doesn't want to touch the "special" pirate ship, or dragons, etc.

I just want to redirect his energy to something other than terrorizing & scaring his sister - as his fallback all the time activity...maybe that's not possible...

TIA
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
902 Posts
I assume you've already had a discussion about this phenomenon with him. What does he say about why he does this? What have you said to him already to encourage him to use the toys for their intended purpose? What is he worried will happen?

Nealy
mama to T (12/02), L (2/06), and O (12/08)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,753 Posts
My ds does a bit of that, mostly with things that can fall apart like lego sets. He does play with them but he also likes to arrange them on a shelf and make what he calls a diorama, a little action scene. He does share with visiting kids but if they don't handle the somewhat fragile toys as carefully as he does he is upset (he comes to me to tell me what happened and to get me to fix it rather than saying anything to the playmate). And sometimes kids just feel free to take apart when he has built (we have plenty of bins of loose pieces for building). So I've kinda encouraged him to put certain, more special, lego sets in more out of the way places.

Does your ds do this only with certain types of toys or with everything? If certain toys bring it out more, I'd make sure he has a range of types of toys, some good action ones like a stomp rocket, a marble run, or r/c cars that don't lend themselves to being put on display. Ones that play well with multiple kids (I guess you'd need two r/c cars then) Maybe your ds would feel better about playing with them if he thought you'd replace them if they broke under regular play (not intentional misuse, lol) or in the hands of another kid. I invested in some glue that works well on plastic so I can fix most things that break. But my ds really does not like broken things. Some kids don't mind scratches or cracks but they really bother my ds. It's not a bad way to be, within reason. And certain toys are most fun when played with daddy, not so fun when played by himself or with other kids.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
....hmmm...his toys, his choice?

As a child, I kept lots of stuff pristine because I decided it was too beautiful to use, like stationary, little note books, erasers, neat soaps. Funnily enough, I found one of my little notebooks today and now use it for groceries
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
158 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
yeah Cascadian hit it on the head - ...his toys, his choice... I know...he's all about choice & believe me he makes all his own choices & everyone elses too.

which I don't have a problem with that - it's the fact that he doesn't treat his sister's things w/ respect...so I would rather him play with something of interest to him....his stuff. He tends to play w/ her things b/c they are not as special to him. & he doesn't care about the outcome of them...or whether she wants him to play with her things - but he doesn't allow her equal play w/ his things although he demands equality (one way equality) if that makes sense.

his answer upon discussion is that they are special & he doesn't want to play with them. he only wants to play with his pirates w/ dad. (not his buddies who also love pirates) which is also frustrating as his friends are better suited for that type of play & Dad can't meet his neverending needs for play.

and everything is special to him. so everything is set aside for display. even recycled cardboard boxes & the like
He is definitely a save it for later guy.

We even have a science museum on our front porch for displaying his collected treasures. So I have embraced this need of his. I just guess his need carries over to most everything in his life. Maybe he does get full enjoyment of his toys by displaying them. I do remember setting up my Barbies & making a "mall" or something but never playing exactly with it - so maybe the set up part is the fun of it...but that was much older...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,403 Posts
Is it possible that he actually prefers his sister's toys? I mean, if she and he each had an identical lego set or whatever, would he still put his own on display and play with hers? Or might he prefer more of whatever type of toys she has, even if those would usually be for a younger child?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,777 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by kylesmama View Post
which I don't have a problem with that - it's the fact that he doesn't treat his sister's things w/ respect...so I would rather him play with something of interest to him....his stuff. He tends to play w/ her things b/c they are not as special to him. & he doesn't care about the outcome of them...or whether she wants him to play with her things - but he doesn't allow her equal play w/ his things although he demands equality (one way equality) if that makes sense.
How about a deal where if he breaks one of his sisters toys, he must let her have one of his.

Quote:
his answer upon discussion is that they are special & he doesn't want to play with them. he only wants to play with his pirates w/ dad. (not his buddies who also love pirates) which is also frustrating as his friends are better suited for that type of play & Dad can't meet his neverending needs for play.
How about you and him make up a box of toys that are especially for playing with his friends. Keep these toys in an easily accessible box. You could probably get it built up a bit with things from garage sales and the thrift store that will already be a bit used looking so less likely for him to feel concerned that his friends might damage them.

And as a PP mentioned, does he actually like some of his sisters toys more? What about his old toys from when he was his sisters age?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
158 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
it's really about keeping his thing special - say 2 identical balloons, same size, same color, he puts his in his closet for safe keeping & plays with hers - with her for some time but then also without her - as in he sits on hers & squeezes it & performs all of his science experiments on hers trying to pop it...afraid of his balloon popping so it's safe in the closet - but that is exactly what he is trying to do to hers - pop it. He wouldn't dream of doing the same things to his balloon. Even though I show him that we have a whole bag of balloons & that there is abundance of it for him - we can always get another or fix it, etc.

I try to make things not have ownership - but that doesn't exactly work as they definitely have different interests so have different play things (not much difference in age range of toys). She does really well letting him play w/ her stuff but when he doesn't treat them w/ respect it becomes an issue. He has that boy tendency to play rough & not the way she wants to play w/ things...& when she tells him to stop the aggression / violence sets in. He is quick to react to her telling him no...and doesn't always listen & respect her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,485 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by kylesmama View Post
it's really about keeping his thing special - say 2 identical balloons, same size, same color, he puts his in his closet for safe keeping & plays with hers - with her for some time but then also without her - as in he sits on hers & squeezes it & performs all of his science experiments on hers trying to pop it...afraid of his balloon popping so it's safe in the closet - but that is exactly what he is trying to do to hers - pop it. He wouldn't dream of doing the same things to his balloon. Even though I show him that we have a whole bag of balloons & that there is abundance of it for him - we can always get another or fix it, etc.

I try to make things not have ownership - but that doesn't exactly work as they definitely have different interests so have different play things (not much difference in age range of toys). She does really well letting him play w/ her stuff but when he doesn't treat them w/ respect it becomes an issue. He has that boy tendency to play rough & not the way she wants to play w/ things...& when she tells him to stop the aggression / violence sets in. He is quick to react to her telling him no...and doesn't always listen & respect her.
I think at this point I would tell my son that his sister's toys are off limits. If he cannot learn to respect them, take care of them properly and listen to her when she asks him to stop before damaging her things, then to me the natural consequence is losing the privilege of playing with them.

If he wants to be toy-free all day then, that's up to him. His toys can sit in his room looking nice while he does nothing, or he can start playing with his own things.

And honestly, with behavior like this I'd really be worried it would flow into every area of life - I used to be pretty OCD about the same sort of thing and it was debilitating. Like, I couldn't use THESE stickers because I didn't have a replacement set, or I couldn't use THIS eraser because that would ruin it and I wouldn't have another to replace it, and I couldn't open THAT box of brand new crayons because I'd mar them and break them and then they'd be imperfect. Unless you help him see that it's OKAY to USE his own things, he may end up a hoarding perfectionist who has to have duplicates *or more* of everything before he feels free enough to use one of them the way it was meant to be used, you know?

Perhaps that's over the top, but that's where I was at a young age.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
158 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
missed your post eepster...

i like the idea of the break swap...these kind of things (if you do this then we do this don't work well w/ him though)

I think what we run into more is how he doesn't listen to her or stop when she asks him to stop & he mistreats her as well as her things. he doesn't get the boundaries of the situation...or how to detect that he has gone too far...

(thanks for helping me find my real needs! as I feel I am straying from my original topic...)

we do bring out certain toys when friends come over & he chooses if he wants to allow them in his room (which is often no) but it breaks my heart b/c I know he *wants* to play certain things w/ his friends but doesn't allow them to at our house with his toys - only at theirs w/ their toys. I do think it's a control / choice issue. He likes to have control & choose everything.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,445 Posts
You might also think about limiting the number of 'special' toys that he has. Each child can get 2-3 special toys that are off limits to other people. Everything else is community property. If he decides that he doesn't want someone playing with a toy, that's OK. But if he's already has 3 toys in the 'special' place, and doesn't want someone playing with a 4th toy, a 'special' toy has to come out of the special place and be accessible to use.

And I think it's a great idea to trade if he breaks his sister's things. So, if he pops her balloon deliberately, she get his.

I think it'll be a rough couple weeks while he gets used to the new system. If he can't get used to the new system after a month, I'd consider seeing someone to see if he does have OCD or something else that's making it difficult for him to be able to use his toys.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,777 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by kylesmama View Post
it's really about keeping his thing special - say 2 identical balloons, same size, same color, he puts his in his closet for safe keeping & plays with hers - with her for some time but then also without her - as in he sits on hers & squeezes it & performs all of his science experiments on hers trying to pop it...afraid of his balloon popping so it's safe in the closet - but that is exactly what he is trying to do to hers - pop it. He wouldn't dream of doing the same things to his balloon. Even though I show him that we have a whole bag of balloons & that there is abundance of it for him - we can always get another or fix it, etc.

I try to make things not have ownership - but that doesn't exactly work as they definitely have different interests so have different play things (not much difference in age range of toys). She does really well letting him play w/ her stuff but when he doesn't treat them w/ respect it becomes an issue. He has that boy tendency to play rough & not the way she wants to play w/ things...& when she tells him to stop the aggression / violence sets in. He is quick to react to her telling him no...and doesn't always listen & respect her.
This sounds like more of a power and control issue than one about the toys themselves. He has this power over his sister when he does things like the balloon in th closet. It's not really that his balloon is special, but that he is stronger, more important, bigger, older, etc than she is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
902 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by eepster View Post
This sounds like more of a power and control issue than one about the toys themselves. He has this power over his sister when he does things like the balloon in th closet. It's not really that his balloon is special, but that he is stronger, more important, bigger, older, etc than she is.
This is what I'm hearing as well. I think as parents it's our job to protect the smaller, weaker younger siblings from any power-games that older siblings play. If he abuses his sister's things, she needs to see that you'll give her justice. (I say this as a former bossy oldest kid.) It's definitely important for him that he be given consequences for this behavior until it stops, but it's even more important for his downtrodden younger sister. She needs to feel that she lives in a benevolent universe, not one where even at home her tyrannical older brother will be able to trample all over her stuff with impunity. Your diligence on her behalf will be a visible sign to her that you value her rights.

I would suggest that he also be required to play respectfully with all jointly held toys. (You mentioned that you try to avoid assigning ownership.) If one person is destroying public property, the law requires that person to make reparations to the public for their destructive behavior. If they didn't, how is it public property? Only one person was enabled to use it.

Nealy
mama to T (12/02), L (2/06), and O (12/08)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,753 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by eepster View Post
This sounds like more of a power and control issue than one about the toys themselves. He has this power over his sister when he does things like the balloon in the closet. It's not really that his balloon is special, but that he is stronger, more important, bigger, older, etc than she is.
. I'd be telling him if he breaks sister's balloon he will be giving her his. At first, I thought maybe he was coming from a place of feeling things were precious because they were rare but you say this happens even when you have plenty of something.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top