Saturday, December 28, 2013


We had a question from a young mother recently. She was concerned that her 5 year old son had broken a friend's toy:

"Yesterday, James was playing at our neighbor's house before Christmas dinner and broke his toy gun by mistake... just not thinking his actions through, no bad intentions. When I heard about it I immediately texted the mom and offered to replace the toy gun, to which she replied, "Don't worry about it, it was just a cheap toy."

 If one of James' friends broke one of his toys, I wouldn't expect that child to replace it. I would tell James that it was his responsibility, that he made the decision to let the other kid play with his toy and that accidents happen. On the other hand, if I loaned something of mine to another adult and they broke it, there are some things I would tell them to not worry about, but there are some things I would expect them to replace or at least pay for.

I feel like I want James to use his money to replace the gun. He currently has enough, but he's been saving up for a specific toy. Should I listen to the mom and not worry about replacing it, or should I make James replace the toy? One option I thought of was I would pay for half of the toy gun, so it wouldn't take as much of James' saved money. We could also help him do lots of extra chores during Christmas break to quickly make more money, and hopefully buy the toy he has been saving up for. 

I keep going back and forth and could use some guidance."

Thanks very much, Jennifer
This is our response to such a scenario:

Talk the situation through with with your child.     

a) If he seems remorseful and didn't break the gun in anger, out of spite or through 
    sheer recklessness, then it was an accident and explain that accidents do happen. 
    He does need to say he is very sorry that it happened. In this case his savings should 
    stay intact. He could possibly offer his friend one of his toys or do a chore for the 
    neighbor if you felt it was appropriate, but if it was an accident, such an action is 
    up to you.  

b) If he did not tell anyone about breaking his friend's toy gun and someone had to get 
    him to admit he did it, then that is a different story. He needs to know it is better to 
    be honest and say exactly what happened, apologize and also make amends. Explain 
    that if he tries to hide doing wrong he will lose friends. To made amends, he needs to 
    use his own money to replace the gun, or do some chores for you so he earns the 
    money to replace the broken toy. 

c) Talk to him in general about being careful with toys or personal possessions 
    belonging to someone else. 

 If a child within a family breaks a sibling's toy, similar advice is advised. It is also a good
 idea to try and identify the cause e.g. 
1) Is the child jealous of the toys another child is getting?
2) Is this child becoming angry because he/she feels they are not getting enough 
3) Are the children spoiled with too many toys and are not respectful of them?  
4) Was it an accident? 

Deal with the root cause as soon as possible to restore harmony in the home.

By talking these situations through, it teaches your kids the right response when accidents happen. This should also teach him how to react in a forthcoming incident if a friend comes to your place and accidentally breaks something of his.

Written by Brian and Sally Burgess

1 comment:

  1. it was a plastic made video game set and was around seven inches by length and four inches in width. The entire body was made of durable plastic and the keys were yellowish. The most favourite game of mine was the car race.