Destructive Behaviour In Toddlers

destructive behaviour in toddlers

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I’m currently sat in Costa with a coconut latte and a toastie, enjoying a rare couple of hours of peace and quiet. It’s half term and the twiglets are at a Playball camp for the morning. I’m trying to relax and appreciate the time to myself but I can’t help but think about the fraught, stressful few hours we had before we left the house earlier. Destructive behaviour in toddlers can be so difficult to deal with!!

Just normal toddler behaviour?

So I may have mentioned before but H can be really destructive.

Sometimes I just put it down to usual toddler behaviour. I’ve even wondered about it being a bit of a ‘boy thing?’ I’m not really too keen on referring to behaviours as specific to a particular gender, but the fact is there are biological differences. This article from What To Expect states that boys are more physically aggressive than girls, so maybe that could explain it?

Or is destructive behaviour in toddlers something to worry about?

Anyway, sometimes I think it’s just normal. But other times I do worry a little as to whether H should be quite as destructive as he is. I don’t know if it’s actually worse at the moment, or just seems it, but it feels like it’s been one thing after another recently.

He just seems to go out of his way to break/rip/destroy things. If C has built a big Duplo palace he’ll go over for no reason whatsoever and break it into pieces. He’ll rip up special drawings he’s done at nursery, even when he’s proud of them. He takes the paper off crayons and breaks them in half. He deliberately drops things down the back of the sofa – toys, my phone, anything he can get his hands on. He’ll break bits off of their toys, tear pages of books on purpose – I could go on.

It’s not usually when he’s angry that he does these things. More often than not, there seems to be no reason for it at all, which is incredibly frustrating. I don’t know if it’s his way of testing the boundaries – like he’s just checking whether or not he’ll get the same reaction each time. Or if it’s purely just experimentation? Literally just to see what happens. According to this article, it is very normal experimental behaviour, but I still can’t help but wonder to what extent is it normal?! I can’t imagine that all toddlers are quite this destructive!

destructive behaviour in toddlers

It seems so ungrateful…

It just annoys and upsets me so much as it seems so mindless, and also so ungrateful. I really want to bring the twiglets up to feel grateful for what they have and to know that they’re lucky to have toys/books etc as some children don’t. And that they therefore need to look after their things and take care of them. So it does really get to me when H just seems to have no regard at all for their stuff.

This morning’s destruction

Anyway back to this morning. So we’ve had a number of incidents recently of H deliberately being destructive. And then today, I was downstairs quickly tidying up the breakfast things in the kitchen and the twigs had already gone up to start getting dressed. I could hear them giggling and squealing – never a good sign as it usually means they’re up to no good.

I went up and H was in the bedroom with the gate across their door shut. C was on the other side. H had balanced the roof from their dolls’ house on our laundry tub (which he’d somehow got hold of) and he was jumping up and down precariously on top. When I looked at the dolls’ house I realised he’d broken a chunk off the top of it.

I lost my sh*t at this point. Bearing in mind, I’ve had to speak to him sooo many times lately about why it’s important to look after our things etc. So I was so upset that he just clearly didn’t give a flying f**k.

The dolls’ house had been their main Christmas present. A joint one so it wasn’t even just his own things he was messing around with. We’d talked specifically before about being very careful and gentle with it as it was special, yet here he was throwing it around and jumping on it!

So, I was furious. I’m ashamed to admit I really shouted at him. I told him he didn’t deserve to have any toys and put all of his cuddly toys from his bed into a bag, saying I was going to give them away to someone who’d look after them. This sounds really harsh as I’m typing it; however, he wasn’t really that bothered to be fair. Just waved at them and said ‘bye’ – despite the fact there were some of his most special and loved toys in there. I swear to God I’m raising some kind of psychopath πŸ™

Mum guilt

Anyway, after I’d shouted at him, I was inevitably flooded with guilt. I worried that he was going to grow up terrified of me and be emotionally scarred and turn out to be a really angry child (even more than he already is!)

It all sounds a bit irrational now but you have these thoughts in the heat of the moment, don’t you? Anyway we both ended up crying and I cuddled him and told him I loved him but that it made me really sad when he broke things on purpose.

I’m not sure whether he really felt sorry for doing it. I don’t know if they’re capable of actually feeling genuine remorse at this age? But anyway we made up and managed to get out the house, but I’m still feeling pretty crappy about it all now.

I think what upsets me the most is when I really lose my temper. I hate doing it as I feel I should be a bigger person than that and have more self-control. I’m the bloody adult ffs! But sometimes I just can’t help it πŸ™

Hopefully the destructive behaviour will improve with age

I know the twiglets are only young – I think I sometimes forget that they’re still only three. So hopefully H will eventually understand that he’s lucky to have toys/books etc and will respect them more. I just wish I knew how to deal with it in the meantime. Anyone else have a particularly destructive child and have any advice on coping with destructive behaviour in toddlers?

Thanks for reading! Til next time,

Hannah x

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  1. Oh we have several of our own experiences over here but it’s E who is the main destroyer. I also end up losing my sh*t and like you want them to appreciate and be grateful for what they have. I’ve just ordered the β€œHow to talk to Little Kids so they will Listen” book in the hope there’s a hidden gem in there on dealing with this type of scenario. I’ll let you know how we get on but you’re definitely not alone xx

  2. Every child is different and I can imagine how difficult it is for you. My two girls never had a destructive behavior. They never break toys and things as we taught them to treasure them just like the way we value the things we have. I guess in time, your kids will learn how to value their things.

    1. That’s good. We’ve always tried to teach them that too – they are a lot better these days thankfully!

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