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Creative Parenting: Burning a Toy

Posted by on Oct. 2, 2012 at 9:03 PM
  • 21 Replies



Question: Would you ever consider extreme measures such as burning a toy to shock your child into changing their behavior?




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Total Votes: 26

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Hi! I have a daughter who just turned four a couple weeks ago. 

The backstory is, my husband and I are both in the military. He and I have both deployed since our daughter was born. I deployed for six months last year. Shortly after returning home, I broke my spine in an accident- and have been unable to effectively discipline my daughter since the injury. 

She has exploited my inability to pick her up, so I cannot put her in the corner. I read every book, and tried every discipline method I could- but to no avail. I tried time outs, yelling, building her back up, a reward system, throwing away toys, spanking, reasoning, ignoring, rewarding good behavior- but every time I tried to correct her, it would turn into over an hour of screaming, her trying to hit me, and general misbehavior.

Finally I reached my wits end. I explained very calmly that the behavior was not acceptable (that time, she hit me when I tried to put her shoes on), and explained there have to be consequences for her actions. I told her that I would destroy one of her toys if the behavior continued. At that point she hit me again. I took a toy she doesn't play with often, and went outside. My daughter followed me. I was going for shock value, with the point being that I could teach her a lesson that she wouldn't forget. I burnt the toy. I explained that the toy would never be back, and that if she continued to misbehave other toys would follow. For the first time, she stopped crying and screaming and followed directions- the model child.

The following week, her behavior was a complete 180. I had to burn one other toy, but the change in her is incredible. She is happier, behaves well, and listens to me the first time I ask her to do something.

My DH's family were over for a party, and my daughter explained that she acted bad and the toy went away- pointing to the back patio. I explained that I had burnt two toys to help control her behavior. The following week, I received lengthy e-mails from 3 relatives on that side that said they were very concerned, I need counseling, and that I am turning my daughter into a serial killer.

I am a logical person, and have not yet responded. I feel that sometimes creative parenting is necessary to help mold our children. My daughter is extremely healthy and happy, and the Doctor just said she was one of the brightest children he has examined in her age group. I feel it is not okay to allow a 4 year old to run a household, and do whatever she wants- and I found a solution that worked.

I wanted some input from other parents before I reply to those family members. Perhaps I am not seeing something. My daughter has been educated on fire safety, and any time she has consequences I explain what behavior caused those consequences. I am also very consistent as far as rules. I read a lot about parenting, and truly do want what is best for my daughter- any thoughts?

by on Oct. 2, 2012 at 9:03 PM
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Replies (1-10):
by on Oct. 2, 2012 at 9:06 PM
Honestly pick one consistant discipline method... trying them all does nothing. if you stick with a time out, be consistant with it... follow through! I avoid fear and imo destroying their toys just scares them into good behavior instead of teaching them behavior... hope that makes sense
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by on Oct. 2, 2012 at 9:56 PM

Thank you for your input. I should add that I did not try each discipline method in conjuction with one another- I gave each a few weeks to see how it worked. I do not know that it scared her, she seems calm about it. She explained it to her aunt in the following words, "When I acted bad, Mommy burnt my toy." She understands the action/consequence relationship - but I agree with your point that teaching, rather than scaring, is better parenting. This is one of the primary reasons I do not think spanking is effective.

by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 6:54 AM

No I would not.

by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 7:02 AM
Well, for starters you are teaching her to burn toys when she's angry, which isn't good. I think if you are using fire to destroy what your 4 year old loves, you have a problem. It's violence to something she cares about. Of course she is going to do what she is told. Has it occurred to you that the fact that she has not had her parents since she was 6 months old might be a factor? The parent-child relationship is bound to suffer. You can't just walk in and think "I said it, she should do it" when the foundation isn't there. She's going to have few memories of you in early childhood. Do you want the image of you setting fire to her stuff to be her memory? I think you all need to go to counseling.
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 7:09 AM
I wouldn't burn their toys. I have had my boys go get a toy and they physically drop it in a Goodwill box themselves if they are really out of control. They have both had to do it twice. My middle son is 4.

Sorry you are having a rough time with your dd.
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 7:13 AM
Never. My great-grandmother burned my grandpa's teddy bear when he was a kid. Threw it in the fire right in front of him. The pain in his face talking about it some 60+ years later still bothers me.

Kids are tough sometimes, but I feel there are so many other ways to get through.
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 7:14 AM
Omg. I don't agree with it, and I'm sorry that I can't say more without being disrespectful.. good luck to you
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 7:25 AM
1 mom liked this
To keep from upsetting you I am just going to say I do NOT agree with setting a childs toy on fire to get them to mind:'( good luck with your daughter..
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 8:30 AM
Not fire.
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 8:32 AM

I used the hammer method (smashed toy with hammer) on my two grown sons, it worked the first time on my middle son, oldest lost a few toys before he figured it out.

With my youngest, they get bagged up and hauled off.

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