Are you teaching your kids to respect their things? I think it’s an important lesson to teach and one they should most definitely learn. What got me to thinking about this topic? Good question. I was recently having a conversation with another mom who happened to mention having to buy a new kindle for their tot. When I asked why (assuming there was something wrong with the product), she shocked me with her answer. She went on to say that her little one had thrown and stepped on it multiple times, brushing the statement off casually as if that’s what toddlers do. My immediate thought was “really”? You’ve got to be kidding me. Am I on candid camera? Where are the video cameras at?
In short, there were no video cameras. Figures. I would have preferred that instead of having to break out the ol’ poker face as if I weren’t completely taken aback by what I just heard. I felt a little pressure as she stood their waiting for a response so I quickly mustered up an “oh jeez, really”? It was difficult for me to keep my eyes from popping right out of my head and into her iced tea and blurting out “Are you friggin’ serious woman; What is wrong with you”? Of course I held my tongue and tried to change the subject. Awkward!
RESPECT YOUR THINGS (for the love of God)!
I hate to use my husband as an example, but yep I’m going to. He’s pretty hard on his things. He doesn’t take care of them very well; never has. I can’t tell you how many things he has broken. And when he’s not breaking things in his spare time, he is abusing them (of course, not purposely). I just don’t think he always knows the correct way to treat and care for this things. Not sure if it comes from laziness or from not being taught as a child. Either way, it makes me crazy. Especially when one of those things just happens to be an expensive item. We may as well have flushed the money right down the toilet. With that said, I tend to be more vigilant when it comes to Alivia and how she treats her toys, clothing, furniture, etc. I don’t allow stepping on toys (including books), clothing, or furniture. Hands must be cleaned before touching or playing with anything. Throwing of objects is not allowed and results in that object being taken away. Items must be appropriately used for what they are intended for. No mini golf clubs being used as bats. No stuffed animals being used as balls. No story books being used as coloring books. No furniture being used as climbing structures. No hair elastics being used as bracelets (a great way to cut off circulation). Pool floats are to be used in the water and not in the living room to jump on. I could go on forever but I think you get the point. Most importantly, and a huge pet peeve of mine, is keeping toys that contain pieces or parts together. If toys have parts or pieces, I keep them in Tupperware containers in her toy box. For example, Alivia has the game Hungry Hungry Hippos and loves to use the little balls to roll around on the floor (a great way to lose them). Then what? The game becomes useless. Additionally, she has the game Trouble which contains thimble like pieces she loves to put on her fingers. I love that she’s creative but there are toys that would better satisfy her desire to create such as Legos, building blocks, or crayons and paper!
So here are some tips to help teach your child to respect their things.
TIPS FOR TEACHING YOUR CHILD RESPECT FOR THEIR BELONGINGS
- - Lead by example. Keep in mind children learn mostly by example. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO”. If Mommy and Daddy are respecting their own things, don’t be surprised if your child starts to as well.
- - Show your child how to care for their things (this includes teaching them how to use them correctly). It’s a habit in our household that when a new toy is purchased we show Alivia the correct way to use it. For example, her mini golf clubs. I show her the correct way to hold the clubs and how to hit the ball gently. In my experience, children learn better from seeing it done. Equally important is to assign toys a place to be stored in your house while they are not in use, whether it be a toy box, closet, or cabinet, etc. Encourage them to pick up after they are done playing.
- - Give them the opportunity to earn money so they can purchase their own toys. You can have them help you empty the dishwasher or take out the trash in exchange for a few coins. You’ll be surprised how quickly they’ll learn to take care of their things when they realize a toy they’ve just broken will not be replaced by you and that they’ll have to crack open their piggy bank! This is also a great opportunity to teach them the value of money.
- - Introduce consequences (assuming you haven’t already). Every action has a consequence. Let’s say your child is playing with a toy car and decides to chuck it down the stairs resulting in one of the wheels falling off. This would be a good time to explain that things can break when they aren’t taken care of and that broken toys can’t always be fixed. They may think twice before doing it next time if they realize a broken toy has to be thrown away. When you find them mistreating their toys, don’t be afraid to take some action. With Alivia, I make sure she knows I have no problem taking a toy away. Luckily I haven’t had to do this yet since I’ve been blessed with a good listener. If you use this method though, I recommend discussing with your child the reason for the toy being taken away and what you expect of them in order to earn it back.
- Hold them accountable. When they break something, explain to them they will be responsible for replacing that item.
- Lastly, remember that good behavior should NEVER be overlooked. When I see Alivia exhibiting respect for her things, I’m quick to praise her! This is extremely important. In fact, it may entice them to exhibit good behaviors more often! Not to shabby for us parents!
Teaching your child to respect their things has long term benefits too! If I respected my belongings when I was younger, I would have had some memorabilia to share with Alivia today. Stuff like artwork from my elementary school days, my cheerleading uniform, love letters from childhood crushes, prom dresses, and journals, etc. Children with an understanding of respect for tangible items are more likely to grow up respecting other people’s belongings as well! And let’s face it, that is a great quality for a person to have. They may even have a broader understanding of the word respect so when it comes time for teaching them to respect people, they may catch on quicker or with little effort!
(When they are this cute, it can be difficult to discipline, stick to your word, and be consistent. Trust me, I know. It’s a challenge, one I constantly struggle with, but in the end I always do what needs to be done. It’s important to never doubt yourself and remain confident that you are helping them be the best person they can be!)
So now that I’ve said all I need to say, how about you? What are you teaching your child about respect?
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