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« The Unthinkable | Main | Progress, and a rantastical late night tangent of some sort. »

October 31, 2007



Can you remind me exactly how old your boys are?


"there, there, dear. It's going to be okay. He will grow out of it...and probaby into something else." wanted comfort! And ideas!

I am, by the way, a mom of two bioboys who started out tiny and a handful of foster boys who came to me full-size.

I don't think it is separation anxiety either. I don't think it is any sort of expression of any sort of anxiety. I think it is FUN!

Just listening to it sounds like fun. And when you got to unplugging the monitor, oh I laughed. What a smart, aggravating little boy!

I recommend a cage. A nice cage, but a cage.

Okay, not a real cage, but a place where you can confine him where he can't do this -- for long enough so that you can pee or long enough for him to sit and be really really bored and alone while you clean up the mess. He doesn't get to watch. He doesn't see you doing the work. He doesn't know exactly when you will be done. Someplace NOT FUN.

Do you still have the crib? Can you get one of those tent things for it?

I know this could be another impossible solution, but it is the only thing I can think of. You know, other than waiting for him not to be two anymore.

Well, that and getting him into day care or preschool or hiring a sitter...

Yeah, that was helpful.

By the way, I distinctly remembering telling my sister, who wanted to know what to give Brian for a present when he was two, "Oh, just a wooden spoon to carry around while he dismantles the house."


I have loads of sympathy and no helpful suggestions. I'm too worn out by the utter relentlessness of it all myself, and we have yet to hit the Destruction Phase.

I will say this: Those boys are cute as all heck. Oh my gosh.

Wish I had more to give you. I'll be back here looking for tips from your other readers :).


Duct tape his hands to his body.

That's all I've got.

Surely it will pass. If not, he has a happy career in demolitions ahead of him.

I'd send you some tranquilizers if I could, and let you decide who in your house should take them.


I am so sorry that he has to be so tough! I agree with Yondalla about the cage but on the side of a playpen or room. Do you have a room that you can place him in that he can't get out of when he destroys things? A room with nothing in it? How about a playpen (I suppose he could climb out of it though). How about making him go with you wherever you are (although I agree this will be a pain for a while). Something as a punishment for what he is doing. I agree also that he is thinking this is fun. Somehow that has to be stopped - I just wish I could think of how too.

I also understand your parental advice before having your own kids - I think we have all done it and have all looked back and apologized to those we did it too. Don't beat yourself up too hard. Keep your chin up and perserve as much as you can to let him know that you do NOT appreciate him destroying things. Does he do this when you are at D's house?

Hugs to you and I hope something kicks in and subsides soon! =)


I'm pregnant with a (surprise but so, so welcome) boy, and you are scaring me.

I have no advice, but this sounds really hard. I think Yondalla's advice is good, someplace that really is not fun while you clean up.

I hope it gets better. Soon.


What if you gave him a box of stuff that he could destroy? Or got a big cardboard box that he could crawl into and tear apart? Part redirecting, part recognizing the need to destroy? My son does this when he's been in his room alone too long. I put him in his room with a baby gate across the doorway when he needs to nap but doesn't want to. If he's in there past an hour without sleeping, he starts ripping up books, tearing things off the wall, etc. So with him, it's boredom, I guess. Maybe if you gave him a box full of things that were easily crushed or torn -- dixie cups, egg cartons -- he might focus on that instead of your house. Not much of an idea, but it's all I've got.


Far be it from me to contradict Moxie, so I expect she's right. It's a phase, it will pass. And I can relate all too well to the feeling of being too tired to deal with a particular behavior and letting it slide.

FWIW, when my kids refuse to help clean up, they have to sit in a chair. BUT. I don't clean up for them. They sit in a chair until they're ready to help. It's a battle of wills, but I'm fine letting a mess sit and letting them sit until they clean it up. There have been a few times that I've had to walk them around the room, "helping" them pick stuff up and return it to its place because it's been bedtime. If we have to leave the house, I WILL leave the mess until we return and then say, "Oh, I'm so sorry you didn't pick this up earlier. Would you like to sit in a chair or pick it up now?" and resume battle of wills. I've never lost this battle and they're pretty accepting that I will never give in.

What I find amusing about Aaron is that he's so sneaky. I have a sneaky one, too, and I worry about when she's 15. If she was deliberately causing messes, I would do the confining thing like was suggested above. Hauling him with you is also a good idea, but not great for your sanity.

My husband talks about when he was little (3 or 4) and loved to read. Unfortunately for his mom, he didn't just like to read a book and then return it to the shelf. He had to haul all the books off the shelves and read while buried beneath them. He was bewildered by her despair. I think many toddlers just enjoy clutter~and destructiveness is fun, too.


No ideas at all, especially since I've got none of the little buggers myself, but oh, Linda, there, there. You deserve at least that! How aggravating! If I lived in Oregon I'd come over and give you a break though.


I'm not a parent, just a babysitter with a good background in child development, etc. So, I cant begin to imagine what it must be like for you. Sorry Aaron is being difficult. If I lived near you Id come babysit for free!
Maybe its just a stage. The only thing I can think of is to manage the enviroment, but it sounds like you've already done that quite a bit and that you don't want to put more things up high, etc.
My only other suggestion would be to give him an area that he can mess up--a bunch of soft blocks or whatever, paper he can tear to bits, etc--in some corner and define it with duct tape or something. Then tell him he can do whatever he wants in there, but not in the rest of the house.
Might be worth a try?
He will stop, though. At some point, it will definitely be over!


I've been thinking about this, and I asked my child therapist husband, and all we come up with is that he's pretty young to remember consequences or even connect them to his actions. So, I agree with people who say give him some area or stuff he can destroy, but also keep him with you as much as possible, and make the cleaning up part very matter of fact and not fun. Linda's suggestion about the chair is good, and I think it would be good to make the clean up low key. (Which would be very hard, because I would yell, honestly.)


You are a really nice mom. If Aaron was MY mother's child, that would have been a swift spanking, make no mistake. I can't believe he crushed stuff into the couch! On purpose! Take pictures to remind him of your sainthood when he's older.


Like Kate, if I had done this as a child, I would have been spanked. It's things like this that leave me--with all my own professional kid toolkit--flumoxed, too.

Nat isn't this bad, but she comes the closest to this kind of behavior when I'm attending to Selina. It is obvious to me that in her case, she is trying to get attention. So I usually park her, wordlessly, in time-out and refrain from any other attention for a while. I have managed to make her clean up a few times but it was like pulling teeth. (I mean clean up these rage-type messes, not every day cleaning up--she's okay about that.)

I just don't know. We use a baby gate now, over her bedroom door and she can't get past it. So in the morning, she plays in her room but can't get to the kitchen, for example. We also put little hook-and-eye type fasteners on the top of the bathroom door and a closet door to keep her out of those in general. I guess whatever form of corralling you can come up with is my only advice.

Here's hoping he outgrows it soon.

Oh, and get a frickin' baby sitter. Really. Get one. Just a couple hours a week keep me from losing my mind.


I just started working outside of the home. Between being a stay at home mom and a working mom being a stay at home mom is much harder.
I have to block my son out of everything or he will pull everything out and make a huge mess.
Hoping things will get better soon.

Lucía Moreno Velo

I have no advice, but as the mother of a child who does not ever destroy or mess anything due to her many emotional problems and insecurities (no object permanence at 3, things breaking and messes make her anxious, cannot be alone for any amount of time), I can advice you that everytime he pulls one of these things you remind yourself that he is a self-assured, healthy child and this, too, will pass.
As for me time, you definitively need it. Can't you find some kind of volunteer to babysit for you through any organization (church, community center, association of people with disabilities)? I have a home based bussiness and I have now two interns from a college. They earn credits for their work. Maybe your local college has a child care or child psy mayor that offers interns? And, since you are home schooling, maybe an education mayor would be interested.
Good luck



This will sound stupid, but if your kid's hair isn't really long, try him out on a big wad of sticky tape. Often, our kid was looking for tactile stimulation and the passing of a tape ball hand to hand (with that slight stickage hesitation) and the schwocking it to the furniture and peeling it off and the picking up of carpet fuzz...well, it was big fun. We used a tape wad about twice as big as her palm (and half as big as her head). It's low tech.

Yes, she was a destructor. I would counsel against the deconstruction kit as it is very hard for kids his age to distinguish between "what mom allows me to tear up" and "treasured family photos." Don't ask me how I know this.


I hear you. Oh, the ideals we have BEFORE we have children. I had this perception that if I provided plenty of love, structure, and mental stimulation; I would produce a "the perfect human being". I was sooo naive about having children. Little did I know that she would come out with a personality of her own. And that I couldn't possibly be supermom 24/7.
My daughter and I have reoccurring phases where we butt heads. She's very stubborn and smart. What's worse, she's on to some of my strategies.
If you haven't already tried it, here's a suggestion: totally and completely ignore when he has done something. Don't even clean it up until he's forgotten what he's done. Of course, unless it's hazardous to leave it unclean. If you're not willing to leave a mess, talk to him about something else totally different while you're cleaning it. Try it for a couple of days, and if doesn't work; it will probably fade on it's own.
I've been reading your blog for a while now and I know you are a very good, conscience parent and his motivation is probably just the little added extra attention he gets. He's probably also testing his powers of manipulation. Good luck!

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