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Creative Parenting: Burning a Toy

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




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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
Replies (11-20):
by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 8:57 AM
My 11yr old had this huge stuffed dog she continued to leave outside .... after explaining to her it doesn't belong outside at all ... for a good 6month time span ..... I told her that the next time she left it outside it was going in our fire pit .... needless to say the following wk she took it outside again and left it out there .... it went in the fire and she hasn't left her toys outside since .... this was 2 yrs ago
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 9:18 AM

I usually just take them away. I would never do that.

by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 9:18 AM

I don't agree with destroying a child's toys.  

We just take things away.  They can earn them back or they can donate them.

by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Personally I would never burn my children's toys. I do however believe in creative parenting & feel that each child is different & what works for one child may not work for the other. People used to laugh @ me when I would tell them how I would punish my daughter when she was about 4 or 5. My daughter has always been a tomboy & never liked wearing dresses, pink, or anything "girly" so when she would misbehave/not listen I would make her wear a dress. She also had really long hair & would only want one ponytail. Well, on days when she really misbehaved I would comb her hair and put her 8-10 ponytails, if she still did not want to listen I would then put different color ribbons or rubber bands in her hair. She hated it! Now I'm going thru the same thing with my son, misbehaving/not listening, & I am in the process of finding what punishment works for him. The things that I find work the best with him is no tv & no juice with his meals (only water) he doesn't like either of those. It's all about finding what works for your child. Good Luck 2U!

by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 12:14 PM
I wouldnt burn my kids toys
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 12:18 PM
No I wouldn't do that.. I don't have any advice.
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 5:52 PM
No, I would not
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 8:55 PM

Nope, that's a bit extreme.  I usually take away their favorite toys and turn off their favorite cartoons and they'll get the hint.

by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM
While i wouldn't do that, i don't see how it is any different than the parent who throws, donates, or otherwise destroys/removes a toy from a child's possession

That being said, i would probably not even respond to their emails. I'd they bring it up in person, thank them for their concern and change the subject. Additionally i wouldn't confide with those family members again.
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Dh and I would not do that.
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