12 answers

My Kids Are Destroying Our Home!

I need some help from anyone who has a similar situation to mine. I am the mom of 4 kids ages 6, 5, 3 and 20 months. It seems that everyone of them excluding the baby has no regard for personal property. my son received a game recently as a gift and i told him to wait to open it until he and I could play it together as there was little pieces and they would get lost. Of course he did not listen and within 5 minutes the entire game was torn apart and the little pieces everywhere. the game was ruined and had to be thrown away before we could even play it 1 time. they get ahopd of pens and draw on tables, walls, etc. I know alot of people out there would say i am not spending enough time with my kids. it is not true. i spend lots of quality time with them but a few minutes a day I need to fold a little laundry or quickly put the dishes in the dishes or whatever. i read to them every night, play with them after school and sit and talk with each one everyday. they do do chores around the house and earn a small allowance of 1.00 per week. when they misbehave privelages are tken away and i stick to it. We have lots of tears, a talk about the right way to behave and they promise to think about their actions. the next day it starys all over again. i love my kids but they are tearing my house apart and because there is 4 of them it seems overwhelming and impossible to control them all at times. any suggestions?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

So here is what happened so far. I got alot of great and interesting advice from all of you on this. Many of the things you suggested we are doing or have tried but a couple of new ideas were brought to my attention. Someone suggested a locking cabinet that pens, scissors, etc are put in. We are buying that today and all writing, art aand otherwise items that can destroy will be in there. they will have to ask for them. Next. someone suggested we throw away. We did that and filled an entire garbage back with junk from the family room. we organized the toys that were left and my son said to me when we were done. Looks better in here mom. Hmmmm We also bout about 12 of those magic erasers and each child even the baby was given one to clean pen off walls and tables. they did it! I think they actually liked it. next someone suggested that at the end of the day before bed it is their responsibility to put their things away. give them enough time to do it. tell them 1 time and then when they go to bed whatever is left on the floor bag up and put it in the garage. I did that but took it a step further. i told them that whatever was left on the floor would be thrown away. i reminded 3 times to clean up, gave them a little over an hour to do the family room and their own room. the family room was challenging but after 50 minutes most of it was done. i told them they had about 10 minutes left to do their rooms. and i finished the dishes. I told them i was coming up now to check the rooms and give the baths and i did. The rooms were not spotless but pretty darn good. Certainly can live with it easily. they were very proud of themselves and said to me Do you like how i cleaned my room? Of course I gave lots of praise, told them I was proud of them and gave out lots of hugs and smiles. I asked my son after the bath why he cleaned up today and he said to me mom I don't want my things thrown away. they actually got the message. I am going to keep on this until it becomes a habbit. thanks for all the suggestions. i think we are now on track.

Featured Answers

I also have the same problem. I spend plenty of time with my kids (home-schoolers)but they do the same thing. My kids are 8,8,4,2,and infant.
I walk behind them all day, cleaning up their 'war zone'. It is the only way I have found that works. I have rewarded, punished, and forced them to clean it up.I rotate their toys and limit the amount of toys they do have. I I stick to my rules, but it never helps,they just team up and they are too fast. Nothing worked- and neither does what I'm doing!!!!
Let me know when you find something... Please!

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Hi Debbie- i feel for you but as you can see you are not alone... i have 3 girls and i feel like i can never keep up with the mess either!! I go threw their things about 1 or so a month and save some things to take to a kids consignment and use it towrds other things i can use for them or we donate it.I also had markers & crayons on our walls and tables- i now have only washable ones & still keep them in a little box up where they can't reach them.I also have them put toys away before bed so toys & clothing don't get out of hand.It makes me crazy when i see the house such a mess so i'm really trying to keep on top of them and having them do it and not just myself.I also agree w u on holding onto some of the toys for your attachment,like when my sister gives the girls toys or stuff animals,it's harder for me to get rid of them because i don't want to have any hurt feelings....well just wanted to let you know u aren't alone-

1 mom found this helpful


Some great ideas already but I did have something that also helped the disregard for personal property.

First I brought my 3 children together with their toys, books, games etc. and we went through everything. I found out that they had too many things that they really didn't want. How many things do your kids have that you, family or friends have given them that were not really to their liking but they still have? Get two big trash bags and mark them "Give away" and "Trash". Go through everything and let the kids decide if they want to "Keep" or "Give away". I found that some of the things my children had were items I thought they should keep not items that they wanted to keep. I had to also learn to let go and give those things away. Anything that was broken, missing pieces or ripped pages was put into the trash bag. After we were done going through everything we went to their rooms and literally found a place for each item. The children helped me decide where everything would be put away. This way they couldn't say that they didn't know where to put something away when they needed to pick it up. If there wasn't room for everything still, we had to get rid of even more one by one until everything fit.

The week after we did this purging I put into action a new set of rules for toys, books, games. When they went to bed they were to go around and pick up everything that was still left out. I gave them one warning that things were out and needed to get put away. I didn't worry if they didn't listen to me because they knew that if anything was out after I put them to bed, those items would be gone for a week to a month.(We adjusted the time limit with their age and their level of obedience) I then put those items into a box up in the garage with date marked on the side of the plastic bag they were in. Sounds tedious but it actually was quite easy. At first they didn't seem to care about the items they left out because they had other items in their rooms to play with. But as they lost more and more items their rooms became almost empty. Oh, and one of the rules was that no toys, books or games would be purchased if they had items in the box. It actually didn't take too long for them to slowly realize that they didn't want to leave things out. One of things I loved about this was that there was no yelling or nagging on my part. That was worth it's weight in gold. One time one of my sons had a major temper tantrum and I sent him to his room where he proceeded to trash the whole room. I told him that if he hadn't picked up everything by bedtime, he would lose everything for a month. This gave him plenty of time to accomplish this. He didn't pick anything up so after he went to bed I boxed EVERYTHING up and he never trashed his room again. Never threaten them with something you can't back up or they will just take advantage of you.

If you don't have a garage or a place to put their boxes out of place I recommend you rent a small storage unit. It will be well worth it and you should only need it a couple of months. After they realized that I was serious about our rules, they only had intermittent times of leaving things out and after that I usually only had a bag or two of items to put up.

Hope this helps,


1 mom found this helpful

First of all, please give yourself a pat on the back because it sounds as if you are doing an awesome job. Four little kids and your own business - that is a lot of work! Here is something that was recommended to me recently and has been working for us. Write down a list of 10 things your kids love to do on the weekends. A separate list for each child. Put it on the fridge or somewhere in the family room. Every time they misbehave, they have to cross something off the list. I don't know why it works, but perhaps them personally having to delete an item they love to do, is part of it. Another thought is for them to gather some of their own toys to donate to less fortunate children. I'm trying to instill in my children that they are so lucky to have so many things and that mommy and daddy work hard to give them a nice home, clothes, toys etc. and it seems to help them have a sense of appreciation for what they have. When we donate items to others, it further instills that message (I bring the children with me when I do it). I'm sure you'll get tons of great ideas and advice and I look forward to reading it all. Thanks and best wishes, C.

We too have gone (are going) through this. I built a cabinet in my house, it's pretty and decorative (you could use anything though) and it holds ANYTHING that can be used to write, draw, paint, be stick on (we have a sticker problem), glued or other wise permanently affixed to anything. Then I cleaned everything, and sorted out their rooms, and organized everything. After that its up to them. We stop and clean up everything 3 times a day, they have 10 minutes each time and what ever is on the floor after the timer I throw away. I know it sounds harsh but the first few times they actually watch their stuff get thrown away they care.

Now for the destroying part, well anythings they break gets thrown away and NEVER replaced if it is theirs, and if it is mine well then they have to "work it off" so to speak. Or I take away a favored something for a few days or a whole week if needed. My kids are in the same age rang as yours 3 and 5 and this seems to work.
Also I have learned that anything that is really important (like the game you wanted to play) needs to be taken and put in the cabinet till it's time, I forgot all the games are also in my lock cabinet.

I hope this helps give you some ideas, all families are different and function different, but this is what works for us. And don't worry if you know you are spending the time needed with your kids don't let other make you feel bad. LOL, all I wand was to get my 4 breakfast dishes done and in that 5 minute make my daughter climbed up and got down the scissors out of my purse (she had seen me put them in there to take with me that day) and cut off all her hair. Kids work fast, my bottom line theory is nothing in the rooms that can be broken or used for harm, and everything else is in closets or cabinets where it has to be asked for.

Sorry for all the long windedness, I'm not usually so bad.


I also have 4 kids that were destroying our home. I know exactly what you are dealing with. My kids are older though. I am their step mom, and they moved in with us 1 1/2 years ago. They are 7-9-11-and 12 right now (the 12 year old ;moved back with her mom 6 months ago). They came from a home with no boundaries, structure or chores. They still destroy things, their rooms are still a mess, but it's much better. Just stay on them, and they will turn around. I think it takes them time. We have tried everything, but now, we give them money if they do their chores, and are ready for school on time with teeth brushed and bed made. I keep track of how much money they make each day on the calendar, and at the end of the week, I give them the money in cash. We used to go to Target for toys, but now they like to go to borders and buy books. They are able to make $15 a week (i know it's a lot, but it's the only thing we found that works---and they dont always make the money), $5 from each of them goes into a computer fund, the rest they get in cash. The oldest usually makes about $9 in cash, the second one about $4 in cash and the youngest usually makes $1 in cash. He is usually crying at the bookstore because he doesnt have enough to buy anything, and I tell him he needs to think about that during the week....
Anyway, I make sure that eveything is picked up and put away (by them) before they go to bed. (they still leave towels on the floor in the bathroom and clothes on the floor instead of in the laundry basket). Tehy still have to be reminded to take their plates in after meals...but it's getting better. Another thing with the toys--because they were breaking them, small pieces everywhere, dogs chewing on them....we told them that we were not buying them anymore toys except for xmas and bdays, if they wanted toys, or batteries for their toys, they had to buy them with their chore money. I think they are respecting their stuff a little more now.
IT's amazing how far they have come.
I think if you went on a shopping trip with them once a month were they could spend their hard earned money, they may start to value it and see why they have to take care of things.

I also have the same problem. I spend plenty of time with my kids (home-schoolers)but they do the same thing. My kids are 8,8,4,2,and infant.
I walk behind them all day, cleaning up their 'war zone'. It is the only way I have found that works. I have rewarded, punished, and forced them to clean it up.I rotate their toys and limit the amount of toys they do have. I I stick to my rules, but it never helps,they just team up and they are too fast. Nothing worked- and neither does what I'm doing!!!!
Let me know when you find something... Please!

Hi Debbie, I am a stay and home mom and I have 4 kids also and I often feel this way. I just wanted to recommend a book that I've been reading lately. It's called Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort. It has really helped me take a second to acess the situation before reacting and kind ways to help my kids figure out how to behave respectfully. Hope you find the help you need!


(This worked for a friend of mine with three kids)
Try this: next time they start up, just go into their rooms and start bagging all their toys and games - EVERYTHING! Leave just what they need, bed, sheets, clothes but take every thing else out! Then make them clean up their mess (DO NOT ASSIST THEM!) and then explain that since they are not respecting you, their home or their possetions, they are loosing everything until they start showing respect for their surroundings. (But most epecially - you!) Once they do, then they can EARN back their toys and games - but you have to do it very slowly, one toy a day if they are good all day. Something like that. It might take them a few months to earn it all back and that's okay! But this is a lesson that they will take into their adulthood. Enough is enough! Put your foot down and bag it all! I hope this helps! Stick to your guns! You're the Pack Leader! They must show you the respect that you are due! Good luck!!

I feel for you!! I only have two and my house is also destroyed. The only advice that I have is to structure the environment for "wear and tear". We are in the process of putting in laminate flooring which cleans up like a breeze, and we have very strict rules about eating - ONLY in the kitchen, not in front of the TV, etc. I don't let them have any markers unless I am watching them and if they want to do any other art projects (playdoh, glue)they do them in the garage on their little craft table. As for the toys with millions of pieces - forget it. Throw them away or else re-gift them to a single-child household. It is just not worth it. We purge our toy collection regularly, and most of the time, the kids don't notice that a toy here or there is missing. We really don't keep too many toys around. If they haven't been playing with it for awhile, I just sneak it out in the dark of night, put it in a black garbage bag and donate it to a preschool or something when they are at school. My husband is more stressed out about the destroyed home than me. I guess I just figure that when they are older we will get a new sofa and other nice things, but for now, we will try to enjoy these messy destructive creatures that we have spawned without having unrealistic expectations about having "everything in its place"

Good luck!

Hi Debbie. My hat goes off to you, as I only have one, so perhaps I'm not the best one to give advice, but I just had a thought on that game. I'm sure you knew, based on past experience, that there was a pretty good chance that would happend when you told your child not to open it, so in a way you set him up to lose (and yourself). You should have taken it and put it away where he couldn't reach/find it and tell him that you will play it with him later, after he does something you want him to do and when you're ready (after you do the laundry, etc.). You also might want to have them do laundry and dishes with you (they can pull out and hand you the non breakable items from the clean dish washer or into it with dirty ones you hand them. They can help sort socks, too, and practice folding towels, etc. Involve your children with you and let them learn responsiblity with you. Same thing when you got shopping. Make a list and divide it and let them help put food in the basket and practice counting the oranges, finding the cheese, etc. Finally, try to create games that they can do togehter that are fun and report back to you (like a treasure hunt that you set up with clues that you hide or something) while you are doing something to keep them busy. Have them do a craft together, with the older ones in charge and helping the younger ones to help create something that involves teamwork, etc. Good luck. G.

Hi Debbie,
Sounds like you are a very busy woman with 4 kids and a business to run as well. I'm sure it can be overwhelming at times. Have you tried the token system with the kids? It is like the concept of earning an allowance. If they stray away from certain negative behaviors and behave the way you want them to you will reward them by taking them somewhere fun or giving them a treat. If they can't abide by your rule(s) they will lose out on the activity or treat. You can tell them it is they're choice how they would like things to turn out...they're behavior determines it. All the kids have to work together. If one child is out of line he makes the others lose out as well. This way it will be a joint effort by all the kids to keep in line. I hope this helps! Happy Holidays!


Do your children do chores? My daughter started cleaning her own room at 1 yr old. I don't mean she picked up her toys. She actually changed her sheets, made her bed, dusted, vacuumed and washed walls... all with help of course.

My point is that children need to recognize how much work goes into keeping the house nice and they need to appreciate the hard work by not destroying everything. Sadly this still may do nothing for a while. It is a long process. Some children pick up on it sooner. My 8 year old still needs constant reminding while my 2 year old won't open a new toy without a ziploc baggie close at hand to keep all the small pieces.

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