Some very young children have a difficult time being convinced that all property is not a toy that’s theirs for the taking. They might want to hang onto the beautiful metal barn doors you have just installed in the house and slide as the door opens. Children feel emotions much more intensely than adults and don’t yet understand the importance of using words or something else constructive like drawing a picture to express themselves. As a result, some take it out on the first object that they see. It’s even worse when it’s someone else’s property. You don’t want your child to grow up with a legal record for property destruction.
Today, it’s also not uncommon for kids to play with a new toy for less than ten minutes and then toss it aside—unless it’s something electronic.
Fortunately, it’s not hard to convince most kids to be respectful of property. Here are some simple ways you can do so.
1. If they’re not the types to value neatness, you could at least teach them to look at putting their toys away as a safety measure. For example, leaving toys, etc., scattered all over the floor can cause people to trip and fall and get injured. It can also cause the toy to break. Also, if they’re borrowing a friend’s toy, the friend will likely get upset if they break it and they’d probably feel the same way if a friend broke one of their toys.
2. Teach your children to be especially careful with something that they’re borrowing. For example, their friend could get upset if a toy is broken. Also, if they damage library property, have them confess it to the library staff and help you pay for it or ask the staff if there’s something that they can do to make up for their mistake, such as learning how to check materials in.
3. Don’t hesitate to use a collateral system. Make sure that it’s something that they highly value. For example, if your son mainly uses his iPad to play videogames or your daughter’s iPod is like a gold coin to her, take those away and chances are they’ll help get ready for dinner or clean their rooms just like that. However, a little caution may be warranted as reward systems usually work only for so long. However, this can also be one of the first opportunities to teach them how financial credit works and how the bank or loan agency takes away something of value, such as their car, if they don’t pay their credit bill on time.
4. Teach them the danger of improper use of things, such as ladders. For example, climbing backwards on or trying to dance on a ladder can lead to a fall, broken bones, and a hospital stay. If your child is one who tends to get into everything, teach them to explore the bigger new things under adult supervision only.
5. Teach them how things work. Children tend to see being part of the process of “grown-up” things as an adventure. As a result, whenever they mess up with something—particularly the first time—instead of punishing them, you could see it as an opportunity to teach them how it works and why it’s important. For example, if they clog a drain, you can use that as an opportunity to educate them about plumbing systems.
6. Finally, you can also teach your children about how much of a privilege it is just to be able to have toys. Show them videos about homelessness. Have them volunteer in a soup kitchen or a local organization for the homeless with you for a day. You likely won’t be disappointed.
Kids and Updating the Home
Fortunately, updating your home can be done on a budget. Just consider what you need the most. For example, if your cords are a mess, you could get a cable strip or ties to organize them.
If you’re not satisfied with your furniture, you can simply rearrange them, buy new fabric, or replace one that’s really getting old and gritty. It’s also much cheaper and less wasteful to update your fabrics than to replace all of your furniture.
Teach your kids to respect the changes you have made to your home. Maybe let them help you with some of the ideas and decorating. When they have helped create something, they will want to take care of it.